Tuscaloosa Air Show

When we saw on the schedule that the Blues were coming to Tuscaloosa, we knew we had to go!  Tuscaloosa is only about an hour and a half from Meridian so it made for an easy Saturday day trip.  While the weather has been fickle this month, it's been pretty nice overall with most days in the 70s.  Unfortunately, Saturday's weather called for temperatures in the 40s!!  After last weekend's weather in Jackson, I knew to show up prepared for the cold.
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We arrived in Tuscaloosa around 10am and parked at a K-Mart to take the shuttle to the Tuscaloosa airport where the air show was happening.  The shuttle was free and the line moved quickly.  The airshow was really reasonable ($10 tickets at the gate) and had a huge turnout.  The only downside to the day was the COLD!  We walked around the static displays and then met up with friends to watch the show.  I got to walk through an Osprey and was shocked by just how big they are in person!
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The T-45 (the jet Rob flies here in Meridian) was one of the planes in the static displays.  It was actually really cool because my friend Rachel's boyfriend actually got to fly the T-45 to the airshow and then show people the plane.  Even cooler than that, he had dinner at a big reception with the Blue Angels the night before and long story short was able to fly in Fat Albert during the airshow!  So cool!
Tuscaloosa Air Show
I am convinced that nothing beats watching an airshow with a bunch of flight students.  They are seriously like big kids when it comes to planes and their giddy energy is contagious!  It was so fun to see how excited they all got watching the F-22 or the Blue Angels buzz overhead.  It's hard to believe that one of them could actually be a Blue Angel one day!  You never know :)
Blue Angels Air Show NAS Meridian
Photo Courtesy of the Blue Angels Facebook
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While the airshow was great, it's official: nothing beats the Blue Angels Homecoming air show on Pensacola Beach!

Lady Eagle Day: Vt-7 Spouse's Day at NAS Meridian

I have been looking forward to Lady Eagle Day pretty much since we first moved to Meridian.  Once a year VT-7 and VT-9 have their annual spouses day and VT-9 had theirs last fall, right when we moved here.  Rob was assigned to VT-7 so I anxiously stalked their pictures and waited excitedly for our turn to come around!
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Lady Eagle Day is designed as a full morning for the spouses to really get an inside look at what our husbands do each day as flight students.  I thought I had a pretty good idea with all of the studying and conversations that happen around our dinner table but I have to admit, I was pretty amazed by just how much goes into flying that T-45.  I've always been impressed by my husband but this event added a whole new level of appreciation for what he does.
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One of the things I was most excited about was getting to wear Rob's flight suit and "my" patches.  The Officer's Spouses Club ordered the VT-7 patches for us in hot pink and we got our own name patches with our own call signs.  But I think I overlooked one thing --- the nine inch height difference between Rob and I!  Oops!  I was a little overwhelmed when I first tried it on but we worked some safety pin magic and I think it turned out pretty great.
lady eagle day vt-7 spouses
The day started with breakfast and mingling in the War Room.  We heard a welcome speech from the CO of VT-7 and then headed out to the vans for transportation to the line shack.  This was one of my favorite parts of the whole day.  Armed with ear plugs, we walked out to the flight line where the planes were practicing landing and "bouncing".  It was amazing to see the planes flying that close!
line shack meridian
t-45 plane bouncing
After the flight line, we broke up into groups.  My group first headed to the control tower to learn all about what is happening "behind the scenes" with the air traffic controllers to keep everything running smooth.  Next, we went down to radar to see even more of what goes into keeping those planes safe in the sky.  It's pretty incredible how much hard work and how many moving parts go into keeping these pilots safe.  I have to admit, I think I'm pretty smart but so many of the things they explained were totally over my head!
Air Traffic Control Tower NAS Meridian
After ATC and Radar, we headed to the sim building to fly our first simulated flight in the T-45!  I was so nervous but had an awesome, patient instructor!  I am proud to say I did not crash the T-45 (simulator) and buzz the aircraft carrier and did a loop!  Just call me Maverick ;)
t-45 flight simulator
Our final stop of the day was paraloft to try on the guys' gear.  I am always shocked by just how heavy everything is!  While I tried my best to pull it off, nothing beats a man in flight gear! We had a lunch catered by Cater's Market and watched some awesome VT-7 flight videos.
paraloft marine jet gear
Lady Eagle Day was a blast and I love the community here in Meridian.  I feel like events like these give me such an appreciation for what our husbands do each day and give us spouses a chance to really get to know each other better.  It's hard to believe we have already been in Meridian for seven months and as small as the town is, I am really loving our time and feeling so blessed by our experience here.
VT-7 Marine Jet School

Tips for the Hal and Mal's St. Patricks Day Parade in Jackson, MS

Earlier this year my hairdresser told me (and yes, hairdressers are the best information sources in small towns!) that Rob and I had to check out the St. Patrick's Day parade in Jackson, MS in March.  She said that people come from all over and that we would love it.  I made a mental note and tried to look for more information about it.  Bits and pieces here and there but I couldn't find any solid tips for the parade other than the date, history, location and that supposedly 75,000 people attend (which I thought had to be a typo but turned out to be true!) 
Hal and Mal's Parade Rain 2015
We love adventures and decided to just check it out and see what all the fuss was about.  Although the weather was less than ideal and we were not really prepared, the parade was so much fun!  I can imagine it being it being a super fun way to celebrate spring on a gorgeous day and if, for some reason, we are still in Meridian next March or another March in the future, I would definitely go back (more prepared!)
Jackson St Patricks Day Parade Tips

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Hal And Mal's Parade Tips
The Event is rain or shine!
The weather was really unfortunate this year, pouring down rain and cold, but the parade carried on.  Check the weather and come prepared.  Tents, umbrellas, rainboots, and warm clothes are a necessity on rainy parade days.  Also I suggest bringing a change of socks/shoes in the car to change for toasty toes on your drive home.

The Parade starts at 1pm but the festivities start much earlier!
The best comparison for the parade that I've heard is that it is a cross between "Mardi Gras in New Orleans and an SEC football tailgate".  While the parade starts at one, the pre and post parade are equally as important as the parade itself.  Tents line the parade route early filled with spreads of foods, adult beverages, chairs, music, and other party essentials.  While researching for our trip, I couldn't find any of the "rules" about alcohol but from experience the only rule I could see was "there are none!"  It's free to set up your "plot" and I highly recommend it!  Plus a tent can help protect you from the elements, whether that is sun, rain, or just beads!  I recommend bringing your own spread of food but there are also food vendors every block or so. 

Parking is easy
We paid $10 to park in a lot but there was tons of street parking.  We parked behind the Trade Market and had a quick, easy walk to the parade route.  When in doubt, ASK!  There are police officers everywhere more than willing to help give directions.

Stick around for the after-parade party
After the parade, there is a giant street party with live music and entertainment outside of Hal and Mal's.  While we were too cold and wet to stay this year, it seems like it would be a great time.  The parade is free but the after-party does require paid wristbands (this year they were $20) and no coolers are allowed at the after-party! 

Wear GREEN and have FUN!
This one might be an obvious but wear green and feel free to come decked-out.  Costumes, glitter, beads, boas, and GREEN are everywhere so you don't have to worry about looking silly!  Come with a good attitude, have fun, and be safe! 

The Superfood Power Bowl

My usual lunch is a sandwich.  Why?  Because it's quick, easy, and doesn't require me to do extra dishes.  Those are pretty much my requirements for lunch!  Quick.  Easy.  No dishes.  But this week since we had so many fresh ingredients in the house, I decided to try my hand at meal prepping and see if I could have a lunch that was just as easy but a little more adventurous than my typical sandwich.
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Enter: the power bowl.  The power bowl is just that: a bowl full of foods that will give you energy.  Part starch + part protein + part veggies, these bowls are totally customizable and will leave you full for hours.  I made mine with quinoa, butternut squash, kale, mushrooms, caramelized onions, chicken sausage, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  But the real question is did it pass the lunch criteria test?
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YES!  On Sunday night, I prepped everything for a week's worth of lunches and put them in labeled containers in the fridge.  Each day, I just measured out a portion of each into a bowl and heated it up.  Quick, easy, and no extra dishes!  The options are really endless with the power bowls so I think this will have to be added to the rotation.
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Whole Wheat Zucchini Harvest Muffins

Last week, I woke up early to make muffins for the #SelflessSelfie campaign and was looking through my fridge for inspiration.  I saw a zucchini and remembered seeing a zucchini bread recipe in the 100 Days of Whole Foods cookbook and thought I could adapt for some harvest muffins.  Everything from that cookbook turns out delicious so I shouldn't be surprised but oh my goodness were these absolutely delicious.
Whole Wheat Zucchini Harvest Muffin
The perfect balance of sweet and hearty--these muffins are delicious for breakfast, as a snack, or even with dinner.  Rob and I tried one straight from the oven, for taste testing purposes of course, and could not stop devouring them!  With only natural real food ingredients like whole wheat flour, zucchini, and honey, these are guilt-free to snack on in our house!
Whole Wheat Zucchini Harvest Muffin
Whole Wheat Zucchini Harvest Muffins
Adapted from: 100 Days of Real Food

3 cups of Whole Wheat Flour
1 TBS Cinnamon
1.5 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
3/4 Cup Coconut Oil, Melted
1/2 Cup Honey
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Large Zucchini
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans
1/4 Cup Raisins

Preheat oven to 325
Grate zucchini (I threw mine in the vitamix and pulsed into small shreds) and chop pecans.  Set aside.
Mix dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
Stir in wet ingredients: eggs, oil, vanilla.  (Batter will be very thick)
Fold in zucchini, pecans, and raisins.
Scoop into muffin tin (with liners) and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday Getaways in Birmingham!

This was one of those weekends with nothing planned that we knew we had to get out of town.  I love living in Meridian, I really do, but as for things to do in the town itself...there isn't much if nothing is planned or scheduled.  Luckily, there are so many awesome cities and towns just a short drive away, within bounds, that there is always somewhere to explore.
First Avenue Rocks Indoor Climbing Birmingham
After weighing the practical and fun sides of some different places, our finger landed on Birmingham on the map for this Saturday.  Birmingham is about two and a half hours from Meridian and a super easy drive.  (We went this fall for Rob's birthday)  We woke up in the morning, got ready quick, and started the drive.  We stopped about halfway in Tuscaloosa to grab iced coffees from Dunkin' Donuts (as good as I remember!) before finishing the drive.  First stop in Birmingham was First Avenue Rocks.
Meridian Weekend Getaways
First Avenue Rocks is a 5,000 square foot indoor rock climbing facility.  Located in an old warehouse downtown, it was the perfect spot to do something active while the weather is still "not so nice".  I've never done anything like this before but figured I was pretty active and would be able to wing it.  Holy geez, this is a lot of fun but quite a workout!  I don't know why but I pictured myself being harnessed in but the majority of the gym was free climbing (no ropes/wires).  After getting over my initial jitters, we had a great time climbing and my triceps and shoulders definitely felt it the next morning.
Urban Standard Birmingham AL
We worked up an appetite while climbing so we grabbed lunch at Urban Standard.   Rob and I split the pimento cheese sandwich and the duck BBQ.  The pimento cheese was a little eclectic for my tastes but the pulled barbecue duck with pickled granny smith apples....amazing!  I would definitely like to come back and try their coffee and breakfast.
21 Day Fix Meal Planning
After lunch, we hit the more practical (but still fun for us!) stops: a two story Target (dreams do come true!) and Whole Foods.  We spent a ridiculous amount of time in both and loved every minute of it.  Thank goodness we packed a cooler to bring home tons of goodies.  A fridge full of healthy food made for an easy and inspired week of meal planning!

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