Friday, August 26, 2016

Military Veterans Make Great Employees

3 Reasons Military Veterans Make Topnotch Employees

by Nick Baucom

Politicians call them heroes and strangers thank them for their service.
But when their enlistment comes to an end, veterans need more than a pat on the back as they return to civilian life. They need jobs.

And increasingly, they seem to be getting them because the unemployment rate among veterans has been on the decline in recent years. In May, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.4 percent, down from 5 percent for the same month in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That compares to a 4.7 percent overall unemployment rate.

“I think in the last several years there has been a focus on the importance of hiring veterans and many businesses have taken that to heart,” says Nick Baucom, a U.S. Marine veteran who makes hiring veterans a priority for his company, Two Marines Moving (

“But probably the biggest reason that the unemployment rate for veterans has trended downward is that, as a group, veterans bring with them experience and attitudes that make them great employees.”

Baucom’s moving company employs more than 100 veterans between its two locations – the Washington, D.C., area and Miami. He wants to hire more because his company is booked three to four weeks in advance and he could use the extra help.
“But with the unemployment rate for veterans dropping, it’s becoming more challenging to hire them,” says Baucom, who also is the author of “On the Move: A Marine’s Guide to Entrepreneurial Success.”

 “I can’t complain too much, though, because I’m glad so many other employers are seeing the benefits of having veterans in their workforce.”

Baucom says there are several reasons veterans make top notch employees, including:

• Their tenacity. Veterans know what perseverance is all about, if for no other reason than they survived boot camp, an arduous challenge that puts a person’s fortitude to the test. Marines, for example, must prove they can hike 20 miles carrying a fully loaded pack.

• Their decisiveness. People in the military don’t always have the luxury of taking all day to analyze a situation before making a decision. Yes, they must gather data and understand it thoroughly – but they understand the need to do it expediently. “A 90 percent solution now is better than a 100 percent solution later,” Baucom says. “Both in the Marines and in the business world, I’ve found that waiting for that 100 percent solution just leads to paralysis.”

• Their initiative. Anyone in the military learns to follow orders. But they also understand that there are situations when they need to take action in the absence of orders. If something needs to be done, they don’t have to wait to be told.

“I know that Marines go through quite an ordeal in their training and in carrying out their missions,” Baucom says. “When we ask them to move a piano, it probably doesn’t seem all that difficult in comparison.”

Nick Baucom is the founder and owner of Two Marines Moving (, a moving company that has operations in the Washington, D.C., area and Miami. Baucom, who also is the author of “On the Move: A Marine’s Guide to Entrepreneurial Success,” served in the U.S. Marines from 2002 to 2008, and was in Iraq in 2003.

Friday, August 5, 2016

It's Grillin' Time


Keep the grilled fired up after cooking dinner for this tasty dessert that is peachy keen!

• 3 large peaches, cut in half and pit removed
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup brown sugar*
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• Vanilla ice cream

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
2. Cut ripe peaches in half, remove pit and put peach halves in a medium-sized Ziploc bag
3. Add vanilla extract, brown sugar* and cinnamon to the bag and close
4. Gently turn bag to coat peaches with mixture
5. Arrange fruit flesh-side down on the grill or grill pan. Grill for 2 minutes or until a nice grill mark appears on the peach. Flip fruit to the skin side and cook for another minute.
6. Serve warm peaches with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and enjoy the peachy keen sweetness
*To make a lighter version of this dessert, substitute two tablespoons of honey for brown sugar.

Recipe courtesy of Everyday Gourmet with Blakely (

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Inman Park Restaurant Week Gets Underway

Inman Park Restaurant Week Gets Underway
Annual Event Takes Place through April 3
By Shandra Hill Smith

You don’t really need an excuse to visit Inman Park. The vibrant area with its impressive dining options and overall vibe indeed is a draw. But if you haven’t had a chance to experience all that is Inman Park, head on over this week to get your foodie fix.
Inman Park Restaurant Week takes place March 28 to April 3 and features 13 participating restaurants.

The list includes Pure Taqueria, Rathbun’s, Keith Rathbun’s Steakhouse, il Localino and others.

Menu price points, with three-course meals, include $15, $25 and $35. This marks the sixth year for Inman Park Restaurant Week.

“New restaurants are always popping up around Inman Park,” says Marco Alarcon, director of Inman Park Restaurant Week. “Hosting this restaurant week is a great opportunity for Atlanta residents and visitors to try a new restaurant — or even a few — at a great price.”

At Pure Taqueria, located at 300 North Highland Avenue NE, choose from a $15 menu that features appetizers such as Queso Gringo, a traditional Mexican cheese dip with pickled jalapenos; entrees such as Pollo con Tequila y Limon — a grilled chicken breast with tequila lime cream sauce, roasted poblano and red peppers, chorizo rice and choice of beans. Desserts include Queen of Cream Ice Cream and sopapillas or cinnamon sugar pastries.

Some of the other entrée options include Salmon Enchilado, chile-crusted salmon and corn cakes with guacamole, charred tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, queso fresco and cilantro; Enchilada de Vegetales and Tacos de Costilla de Rez or braised short rib tacos.

Food isn’t the only winner here. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere comfortable and inviting and the music a welcome touch.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Barnum & Bailey Presents Circus XTREME

Last Look at Elephants in Long-Running Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

“XTREME” Returns with Retiring Elephants, Dancing Poodles and Other Popular Acts

By Shandra Hill Smith

In Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Circus XTREME, Alex and Irina with their delightful dancing poodles are back, as are the age-old Asian elephants — but, for the latter, this time for the final time. This year, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced the May 2016 retirement of the traveling elephants. Your last chance in Atlanta came during performances Feb. 10 to 15 at Philips Arena in Atlanta and Feb. 18 through this Sunday, Feb. 28 at Infinite Energy Center in Duluth.

Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, plans to move the elephants to its permanent home at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.
Other acts will remain, including the aforementioned entertaining Dogs of the City act and the electrifying The Art on Trampoline (freestyle sports) featuring acrobatics launched off trampolines. As the audience cheers them on, athletes propel themselves higher and higher, leaving many holding their breaths and others, like the female patron one seat over, gasping.

Another astounding act audiences will find is Mongolian Marvels, a troupe of strongmen, showcasing the Mongolian cultural style of the strongman, while, at other parts during the performance, contortionists bend their bodies in amazing fashion. One Mongolian Marvels highlight features the troupe building an eight-person pyramid with a combined weight of more than 880 pounds!

It’s one of a kind and extreme all in one package! And what more would you expect — from a show that works hard to prove year after year it’s The Greatest Show on Earth.

More info:

Images Copyright © 2014, Feld Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission from Feld Entertainment

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Jordan takes the spotlight

 As Hollywood gears up for the 88th Academy Awards to be held on February 28, 2016, the Kingdom of Jordan has once again provided the backdrop for three key Oscar contenders in two categories.

Jordan, the famed Middle Eastern monarchy of stability and safety located on the east bank of the Jordan River, boasts a diversity of locations and a strong production infrastructure that have lured top film and television productions for decades. Oscar has often honored classic movies shot in Jordan with its top awards, including giving prizes to “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

At this year’s glittery ceremony, “The Martian” contends for Best Picture and in six other categories, after director Ridley Scott chose Jordan’s UNESCO World Heritage site of Wadi Rum as a stand in for the red planet. Best Foreign Film contender “Theeb” (Jordan’s own nominated entry), director Naji Abu Nowar’s BAFTA award-winning coming-of-age story set amidst World War I was also shot in Wadi Rum, creating a completely different representation of that spectacular sandstone valley. And “A War,” Denmark’s Best Foreign Film nominee, used other striking locations in Jordan to tell its more modern story of conflict, as it follows Danish soldiers fighting during the recent war in Afghanistan.

There are good reasons that filmmakers as well as television crews from around the world often choose Jordan – a veritable modern promised land of opportunity -- as the place to work their creative magic. The Royal Film Commission - Jordan provides both local and international productions with comprehensive services, ranging from scouting and suggesting spectacular locations (both wildly natural and sophisticatedly urban ones) to offering a modern infrastructure, skilled crews, financial benefits, tax incentives (including exemptions of the 16-percent sales tax, customs duties and the withholding tax on foreign crews), no- or low-cost permitting fees and an always secure environment in this country that is universally acknowledged as the safest county in both the Middle East and the entire Arab world.

And all these advantages are found in a place where English is widely spoken, the weather is generally moderate and unique, unspoiled ancient historical and multi-religious sites offer a breathtaking choice of visual possibilities. Is it any wonder that the world’s best filmmakers, including Ridley Scott (who shot both “The Martian” and “Prometheus” here) and Kathryn Bigelow (who made two Oscar-winning movies, “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” in Jordan), have returned time after time to make films in this welcoming country?

In fact, Jordan’s Royal Film Commission goes far and beyond just being welcoming to both foreign and domestic projects; the organization is dedicated to consistently helping top-notch productions create unforgettable stories and images while keeping costs well in check. It’s a continuing success story that has led to the country being nicknamed the “Hollywood of the Middle East,” with “X-Men: Apocalypse” (slated for release worldwide in May 2016) as the next American blockbuster that used Jordan as a backdrop for the action.

George David, Managing Director of the Royal Film Commission – Jordan is available for interviews to help put this continuing story into perspective. He can speak to the Jordanian government’s strong support of international productions (from streamlining visa clearances and permits to assisting with local casting and crew recruiting, suggesting appropriate production facilities and more) as well as the many reasons Jordan is the place in the Middle East for top-notch productions.

A comprehensive guide to filming in Jordan can be found at, with the current Production Directory offering an up-to-date list of services available across the country at

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Lizz Wright: Grounded in grace

By Shandra Hill Smith

Talking with Lizz Wright leaves you with the feeling as if you’re talking to an old friend, right there with her—in the space she’s come to make her own: a mountainside community in western North Carolina. You feel as if you’re with her on one of her typical Sunday drives or working alongside her harvesting the land.

The stories from this 36-year-old singer-songwriter draw you right in, just as much as the stories told through her music, which covers the genres of gospel, jazz, folk, pop and blues. And there’s no need to question — she definitely returns the love to her fans, many of whom, like this writer, have been following her since her debut album, “Salt.” With that release, the then 23 year old topped contemporary jazz charts. She credits Atlanta with giving her a start and helping shape her career.

That’s one of the reasons Wright returns to Atlanta this month for a one-night performance, Sunday, Feb. 28, at The Buckhead Theatre. City Winery Atlanta — which comes to Ponce City Market in May 2016 — presents its first off-site performance, an evening with the jazz and gospel singer at The Buckhead Theatre. The show kicks off at 8 p.m., with doors opening an hour earlier.

“I have to come home,” says Wright, who studied classical vocal music at Georgia State University, and is a native of Hahira, Ga., not far from Valdosta and the Georgia-Florida line. “I still have an incredible community in Atlanta. I was really nurtured by the jazz community here. They’ve been incredibly supportive.”

That support has lasted from when Wright appeared on the 2002 disc (“The Pecan Tree”) of the late pianist and composer Joe Sample to her second through fourth releases — “Dreaming Wide Awake,” “The Orchard” and “Fellowship,” and now her fifth album, “Freedom & Surrender.” Wright’s newest is with Concord Records, while her earlier releases, including with Sample, were through Verve. On “Freedom & Surrender,” she teams with four-time GRAMMY Award-winning bassist and producer Larry Klein. It’s a project that Wright fortunately managed to complete following a serious car accident.

After singing in the church, where her father, a pastor, served as musical director, Wright moved to singing classical, then jazz. She says she gets to visit her home of Hahira about two times a year, and while there she writes.

“It’s such a musical place,” says Wright. “That’s the best thing the world’s ever done for me, was taught me how rich home is. My grandmother can look at me and say one thing and it sounds like a blues lyric. The way she kind of walks, the way she shifts her weight. There’s a cadence and a story in everything she does and the way she looks.” She says she finds that to be true of other family members, including her connections to the Geechee culture.

“People don’t realize how wealthy they are in their routines, even sometimes in their kind of despair. I’m living another side of reality and I come to them and they sound like masters to me. There’s no person alive who’s not a teacher at something.”

Her 91-year-old neighbor — her favorite, she points out with warmth in her voice — is a teacher of sorts as well to Wright, the middle child to a brother and sister.

The self-proclaimed hobby homesteader has embraced her love of mountain life by making a mountainside community near Asheville her home. It’s there that she has learned from her neighbor to “wild harvest real food from the land. You can get greens you can cook, salad greens.”

Wright shares that she has an appreciation for garden food — one that developed during her childhood days in Hahira.

“One day it just hit me — I was the first generation in my family who couldn’t grow their own food.

“My father grew most of our produce all my life in the backyard. We worked. It was amazing what he grew in small spaces. I remember the kitchen floor being covered in watermelons where we could barely walk. I remember bringing yellow and red tomatoes to the church and handing them out to missionaries dressed in white. I have this very vivid memory of my father just giving away food and us just always having a lot.” Those images include moments of watching her dad cut and twist sugar cane across his leg, another example, she says, of a time of “communion being marked with food.” A time to which she wanted to return in some way.

“I’m very blessed to be in a constant state of adventure and exploration with this career and the traveling and all of that,” Wright says. “I just really wanted to figure out where I wanted my roots to be for a while. I love it because I can drive now. I’m literally into the earth. I love to drive and look around.  

“Everything is more grounded for me now.”

More info:
The Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30305
Costs: $38.50 regular seating; $43.50 premier seating

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

More Jamba Juice, Please!

If you're a fan of Jamba Juice (and if you've tried it, of course you are), you'll be happy to know the brand is opening five new stores to the greater Atlanta area this month! This is a major expansion to the company, which will also bring jobs and contribute to the job market.

Among the four franchise partners launching the new stores is former professional football linebacker Julian Peterson and his wife Aimee, who own and operate franchise group, For Pete's Sake, LLC. They will open two locations this year – one in Atlanta and one in Decatur – and have a development deal to open six stores total by 2019.

The five new Jamba locations and respective franchise partners include:

·         6623 Roswell Rd, Ste J
      Sandy Springs
      Operated by Sankha Das and Aditi Mukherji of Fruitful Life, LLC

·         4305 State Bridge Rd, Ste 103
     Operated by Kevin Patel of KPJ Atlanta, LLC

·         4279 Roswell Rd NE, Ste 201
     Operated by Aimee and
Julian Peterson of For Pete's Sake, LLC

·         2052-B N. Decatur Rd
      Operated by Aimee and
Julian Peterson of For Pete's Sake, LLC

·         4101 Roswell Rd, Ste 304
     Operated by
Sweta Parekh of Juice4Me, LLC

For more than 25 years, Jamba Juice has been serving up a wide variety of menu selections like freshly squeezed juices, delicious signature smoothies, and hearty steel-cut oatmeal and Energy Bowls. For more information, visit

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Giving Back - The Reason for the Season

For many, the holiday season passes by before having the chance to accomplish everything on a holiday “to do” list, which often includes donating to or assisting those in need. From starting an e-drive for charities, to virtual volunteering, there are many resources available that cater to those looking to do their part this holiday season - who are short on time.

YouGiveGoods (
YouGiveGoods is an online charity drive platform that offers two options for donors; the first allows corporations, small businesses and individual volunteers to set up their own online drives, which can then be shared via social media to raise more awareness. The second option allows users to donate to any charity drives that are live on the YouGiveGoods website. Once a drive is over, YouGiveGoods then delivers all purchased items directly to the organization, making for a simple, effective way to give back to a charity or community in need.

Give Back Box (
Give Back Box provides vendor services to retailers and charities, allowing each and every cardboard box a second life to help people in need. They allow individuals to reuse shipping boxes from previous online purchases, or any other cardboard box, to donate your unwanted household items, such as gently used clothing, shoes, electronics etc. to those in need.

Sparked – Skills for Change (
Sparked allows individuals to volunteer virtually by helping nonprofits meet challenges they face, based on each volunteer’s individual skills and interests. With tasks ranging from graphic design to social media, Sparked offers a simple way to give back right from your computer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's National Pomegranate Month (recipes)

Happy Pomegranate Month! Here are a couple of recipes to help incorporate this delicious fruit flavor into your fall menu. Enjoy!

Pomegranate Blueberry Blast

 4 oz. Pomegranate Blueberry Sparkling Ice Drink (available at Kroger)
 1 ½ oz. pomegranate vodka
 Splash of freshly squeezed lemon
 Rosemary sprig

 Pour vodka and lemon juice over ice and stir.
 Top with Pomegranate Blueberry Sparkling Ice.
 Stir gently to combine ingredients.
 Garnish with fresh or frozen blueberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Sparkling Pomegranate Blueberry Balsamic Glaze

1 ½ cups Pomegranate Blueberry Sparkling Ice
½ cup balsamic vinegar


 Place Pomegranate Blueberry Sparkling Ice and additional ingredients in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil.
 Reduce heat to low and simmer until syrupy and reduced by one third. Several factors can vary the cooking time (i.e. type of pot, brand of balsamic) so use your best judgment and keep a close eye on it at the 25 minute mark.
 Turn off the heat and let the pot sit to cool on stove for approximately 20 minutes.
 Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 Alternate Serving Suggestions:

 Salad Dressing or Glaze
 Glaze for fish, poultry, lamb, and vegetables
 Use warm as a sauce for your favorite cut of meat or vegetables

Friday, October 9, 2015


Have your next affairs at the Fox.  It’s not what you might think; you see

both the Fox Theatre and Affairs to Remember Catering,the longest-running leaders in their respective categories have formed a new private events partnership called AFFAIRS AT THE FOX.


Expanding on their relationship with the Fox of nearly four decades, Affairs to Remember will manage the booking of all events at the Fox’s Egyptian Ballroom, the Grand Salon & Terrace, Landmarks Lounge, and other special event areas.

For those clients who do choose Affairs to Remember as their caterer, AFFAIRS at the FOX will boast a menu of Fox-exclusive foods. Building on elements that fans have found fascinating for more than 80 years, the new menus are inspired by three defining features of the Fox: its magical architecture, its location at the epicenter of the New South, and the signature performances mounted in its grand theater.

Event-goers are already raving about the Fox Theatre’s new signature popcorn, dubbed Fox-corn, made with pecans, apricots, caramel and Dukkah, an Egyptian spice blend of toasted nuts and seeds.


This is a natural and exciting progression for the Fox’s private events offerings,” said Fox Theatre General Manager Adina Erwin. “Combining our lavish Egyptian, Moroccan and Spanish-themed spaces with Atlanta’s premiere event company is a win-win for clients.”

While Affairs to Remember is the preferred caterer for the Fox, this is not an exclusive relationship – a unique arrangement for the industry. Weddings, corporate events, proms, and all other special events are able to choose any vendor they wish. The Fox will remain an elegant, yet approachable venue to the entire industry and market, and this partnership will continue that tradition.

For those clients who do choose Affairs to Remember as their caterer, AFFAIRS at the FOX will boast a menu of Fox-exclusive foods. Building on elements that fans have found fascinating for more than 80 years, the new menus are inspired by three defining features of the Fox: its magical architecture, its location at the epicenter of the New South, and the signature performances mounted in its grand theater.

Event-goers are already raving about the Fox Theatre’s new signature popcorn, dubbed Fox-corn, made with pecans, apricots, caramel and Dukkah, an Egyptian spice blend of toasted nuts and seeds.