Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tasty Tapas

The Iberian Pig Draws Old and New Crowds During CHG Restaurant Week
By Shandra Hill Smith
It’s a Thursday night in the 8 p.m. hour and an empty seat is hard to come by. Whether this is a typical weeknight flow or one that has to do in large part to this particular week, it’s not clear. It was, after all, CHG Restaurant Week, an opportunity for foodies and others to experience The Iberian Pig in downtown Decatur, and other eating establishments making up the CHG Restaurant Group.

The restaurants include Cooks & Soldiers, The Iberian Pig Kitchen & Bar, Double Zero and Sugo Kitchen.

From October 3 to 9, diners got a chance at a number of events — from a Wednesday wine tasting at Cooks & Soldiers to Throwback at the Iberian Pig on Thursday night.
With the exception of one order of pan-seared scallops, the delivery on food was fast.

Winners at our table included a trio of tapas, including Patatas Bravas (make that a double order), which are twice-fried potatoes with smoky pimenton bravas sauce. The Vieiras pan seared scallops went well with Peach & Arugula Salad, a combination of local peaches, blackberries, baby arugula, goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts and aged red wine vinaigrette.

A round of applause goes to the server who assisted our waitress by providing backup support, made recommendations and constantly checked on our table.

In this case, a new experience proved a positive one.

More info:
The Iberian Pig, 121 Sycamore Street
Decatur, GA 30030

Monday, October 3, 2016

Luke's Coffee Comes to Atlanta!

Yes, you read correctly! Wednesday, October 5th, all day these Atlanta coffee shops will be serving up Luke's Diner coffee. (Free 7am-noon, or until supplies run out)


·JavaVino - 579 North Highland Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30307

·Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee Co - 19th St NW, #7100, Atlanta, GA 30363

·Corso Coffee - 3065 Peachtree Rd NE, #210, Atlanta, GA 30305

·Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee - The Warehouse - 5095 Post Road Cumming GA 30040

*Visit townofstarshollow.org/lukes for a full list of Luke’s Diner locations nationwide!



In celebration of the Gilmoreversary, marking the day Gilmore Girls first aired, Netflix is bringing everyone’s favorite Stars Hollow hangout to Atlanta. Fans can celebrate the way Lorelai and Rory would by grabbing their person (mom, boyfriend, Sookie...Kirk) and heading to any of the four Luke's Diner locations in the city. 


Decked out with all the Luke’s Diner essentials, visitors will receive a free cup of coffee (while supplies last), plus a fun surprise under their custom Gilmore Girls coffee sleeve. Once the caffeine kicks in, fans can relive their favorite moments and stream all seven seasons on Netflix before embarking on a new journey with Lorelai and Rory on November 25, when Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life launches on the service!


·Snapcodes printed on custom coffee cups will unlock a special Gilmore Girls filter that users can use for 24 hours

·Hashtags: #HappyBirthdayGilmore #Lukes #GilmoreGirls

Reduce The Amount of Static Cling?

Reduce The Amount of Static Cling Clothing Generates
Eliminate electric shocks from the daily routine once and for all

Surprisingly, many people don’t know what the actual purpose of fabric softener is. Most think it is just to make our clothes soft and wearable but it is also to help prevent static cling. But sometimes, softener can use extra help to kill that static. There is nothing more annoying than constantly get a shock of static electricity or having everything always sticking to you. There are some simple tips and tricks, like tossing an aluminum foil ball into the dryer to kill the charge, remove clothes from dryer before fully dry or spray some water onto dry clothes to help further reduce static cling.

Tips for getting rid of static cling

  • A great tool to get rid of static cling is the Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus spray. It has over 101 uses and one of them is eliminating static cling. Not only will you remove static charges from your clothes but they will be left with a fresh scent.
  • Place a safety pin on the inner hem of clothing to dispel any static charge, instead of shocking you, the charge will go to the pin.
  • Place a damp towel or cloth inside dryer and dry at lowest heat setting. The clothing will not become as dry and susceptible to static.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer before they are completely dry, allowing them to air dry the rest of the way will better prevent static, due to the reduction of heat and friction between clothing.
  • Instead of wearing rubber-soled shoes, wear leather-soled shoes to help prevent static because it is a non-conducting material.
  • Use Aluminum foil balls in the dryer, the foil will pick up any charge from the clothing while in the dryer.
  • Spray fine mist of distilled water on clothing after it comes out of the dryer, it will kill any static that is clinging to the clothing.
  • Slip clothes with static charge through a metal hanger, just like the safety pin and aluminum foil, the metal hanger will pick up any charge that is in your clothing.
  • If you have static cling on clothes you are already wearing, place a think layer of moisturizing lotion on your skin underneath your clothes. The moisture from the lotion will counteract the dryness of the clothing.

About Downy Ball

No more waiting for the rinse cycle. No more cleaning out the dispenser. With the Downy Ball, fabric softener is automatically released during the rinse cycle. To enjoy the convenience of Downy Ball just pour the Downy fabric softener of choice up to the right fill line in the Downy bottle cap, pour into the ball, seal it, and drop it in at the start of the wash on top of fabrics. Downy Ball will release the softener on its own, making laundry less complicated.

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 (www.TwoMarinesMoving.com).

“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 (www.twomarinesmoving.com), 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 (gourmetwithblakely.com)

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 www.film.jo, with the current Production Directory offering an up-to-date list of services available across the country at www.film.jo/files/ProductionDirectory2015v2.pdf.

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 jambajuice.com