Friday, July 31, 2015

Coffee Talk

Care to chat?

I'm busy ordering items for upcoming events at work. We have a tea party coming up, and I have decided to invest in a scone pan. Since we plan to offer these tea parties almost monthly, we thought it would be best to invest. (I like how that rhymes.) I've only made scones once (Egg Nog Flavored ones from World Market,) so this is going to be a whole new venture for me. I have faith I can make it work.

Then comes the tea. I've never been a big tea drinker, I tend to lean more toward to coffee or carbonated beverages. However, in recent years I've given it a-go. Not too bad. I've ordered a wide variety for our participants to try, and I'm looking forward to revealing our flavors each month!

BIG news. Well.. for me anyway. (Let's see if I can stick to it..) Yes.. it involved my health. I am going on a Fall Journey with Valor Wellness. (Funny how this little side note is going to tie back into tea.) Sooo.. my friend, Frances, is a Yoga instructor (by night,) and an attorney by day (and former Communications Director, like myself!) She's originally from Miami and just a joy to chat with. (I always seem to gravitate toward folks from Miami... you guys are something special!) Anyway, I met Frances at... wait for it.. wait for it... a tea party! Yes, our friend Stephanie throws these fantastic tea parties, and she knew Frances through her sister. (Long story, but Frances is fairly new to Macon.) Well... Frances started a side project/company called Valor Wellness. She is offering a Fall Journey to Wellness program. Sounds like the perfect step for me! For one, I'm back and forth on the healthy eating. Weight Watchers tires me out with the documenting everything you eat. And let's face it, my stress level tends to rise and fall with the tides. I'm committing to 12 weeks of wellness. Anyone can do anything for 12 weeks... right? 
Here is the description of the class:

As the days grow shorter and the schedule gets busier, start your week with a yoga class, inspirational scripture, and nutrition accountability group at Tatnall Square Park on Monday evenings. We will meet by the pavilion from 7-8pm for 12 weeks, from August 3 (when the kiddos go back to school) through October 19 (as Daylight Savings Time winds down). Yoga classes are by donation, just like on Saturdays. The nutrition program we will be using is Beachbody's 21 Day Fix (which is all about clean eating and portion control). Group members are welcome to join us on the Fix, but that is entirely optional. You pick the nutrition plan that works for you, we support you in your journey to wellness!

I checked out the Beach Body 21 Day fix, and I don't honestly see myself doing the daily videos. (These are the people that created P90X.) But I do have a gym membership, and I do enjoy yoga, and I love the idea of an inspirational component.. so why not?

I did do a little research on what I could incorporate as an eating plan, and I went with the Mediterranean Diet with The Zone. That program actually has a plan with the foods I really enjoy eating. I think this might be worth a look at. My weight gain is hormonal in nature (PCOS,) and The Zone is all about balancing out the hormones. This may help me out.

Speaking of health - mammogram was beautiful! Yay!

Moving on..

Got a big event to attend Saturday night. If you live in the middle Georgia area, consider coming out to the Terminal Station in downtown Macon for the Taste of the Arts - Havana Nights. (It's a Cuban theme.) My team will be one of the many chefs preparing yummy things. I'm going for picadillo, not just ANY picadillo, Tere's Magical picadillo. (Yes, a Cuban friend that lives in Miami.) See? It's a Cuban themed blog post. lol

I'll of course share pics and little stories along the way.

But for now.. I will head out for lunch.

Have a beautiful weekend, my friends!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Climb Every Mountain - Vacationing in North Carolina

Desmond Tutu once said that you don't get to choose your family. He said that God chose them for you and that is your gift. 


That's funny.

But what about the folks you do choose to let into your life? (Sort of like a gift card from God. God hands you this carte blanche to find the ones you want to spend time with!) I got to spend the week with my gift card! My Sweet Guy and his family invited me on their annual mountain trip to their cabin up in Franklin, North Carolina. The purpose of the trip, aside from obvious bonding time, is for his mom and sister to attend this retailer's jewelry show. It is basically where you buy jewelry at wholesale prices. Guess who got a pass? Moi!

It started out fairly simply, Sweet Guy and his youngest daughter met me at work on Wednesday and they hopped in my car and we drove to Franklin, NC.  

We ended up meeting up with the rest of his family (Mom, Mom's best friend, daughter and niece,) in Suwanee, Georgia for a quick lunch at The Cracker Barrel. His mom is not much for change and pretty much set in her ways, so taking the adventure over to the authentic ethnic restaurants across the street were pretty much out of the question. Service was good, food was as expected, and we hopped back in the car and headed to a Farmer's Market they like to stop at along the way for Peach Ice cream.
We stopped at Jaemor Farm Market and relaxed for a few minutes. The girls got ice cream, while my SG and I wondered the aisles marveling at the gigantic blackberries and wood work. Jaemor is located in the Northeast Georgia Mountains sells homemade fresh breads, jams & jellies, pickles, relishes, BBQ sauces, marinades, dressings, pies, ice creams, cakes, boiled peanuts and much more. Apparently there is a Summer Harvest Festival on August 8th you might want to check out. 

After the little sideline at the Farm, we made our way up the road to Goats on The Roof. This tourist trap is located in Tiger, Georgia. I say tourist trap with the greatest affection because I am such a sucker for a goat - and the have them on THE ROOF! It was an awesome little stop. They had everything you could imagine, they carry Amish foods, Amish Furniture, unique gifts, T-Shirts, homemade fudge, the best nitro homemade ice cream, gem mining and rock crushers. You can even feed the goats and become an official Goat Ranger! 

SG's niece was cranking a bike that carried the pail of feed up to the goat!
Finally, we made it up to Franklin, North Carolina, in the Smokey Mountains. The cabin did not disappoint! 

The home had two full bedrooms and baths, and a large loft that had two more sleeping areas. Horses, mountain views - everything you need to just relax and unwind in the Smokey Mountains. 

My favorite spot was to sit on the back porch and sip my coffee and read a book. 

view from the porch
That night we ate a family barbecue place called Fat Buddies. I ordered the baby back rib platter with french fries and back beans. I have to say, those were hands down some of the best ribs I have ever had!

The next morning we got up and headed to this jewelry show! I racked up on goodies (compliments of SG.) He is such a sweetie. He gave me a card the night before with cash and said, "I love you - now go shopping." 

That actually happened. 

That afternoon we grabbed lunch at the show - I went for a chili dog and chips and made our way back to the cabin for naps. That evening we went to Shoney's and had the buffet. I had not eaten there in sooo long. Since we were such a big party, they stuck us back in this super cold room. All it took was some home style mashed potatoes to warm me right up!

The next day, SG and I dropped everyone off at the jewelry show and made our way downtown to eat at Caffe Rel. This place was phenomenal! Authentic French Cuisine and what made it so interesting, it was located inside a service station. Yes - a gas station. Just behind the doors was this upscale french bistro! 

SG ordered scallops and potatoes, while I had the Caffe Bleu - chicken with ham shavings and a bechamel sauce. We split the Gruyere/Rosemary Mac & Cheese. To. Die. For. Each entree came with an orchid as a garnish. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS PLACE. 

After lunch, we picked the girls up and headed to Dillard, Georgia to the Dillard Stables at the Dillard House. The girls wanted to go horseback riding, and that's what we did!

The ride was $55 a person for one hour down a river trail. The girls had a blast, and the area was absolute gorgeous. I was a little disappointed with the "welcome" we received from the lady who seemed to be running things. Less than hospitable, but as long as the girls enjoyed themselves, I guess that is all that matters. On the experience I would recommend it, if you are partial to people acting like they care you were there, the nah. Apparently, while on the trail, one of the guides was busy texting the entire time.
Uh.. yeah. 

That night, we split up and ate at different places. SG, his youngest and I went to Fatz Cafe in Franklin and enjoyed a great dinner! I got something very bad and fried, as well as slurped up a delicious glass of Pinot. Woosaaah.

The next day we decided it was time to go TUBING! We headed into Dillsboro and took an 1 & 1/2 tour of the Tuskeegee River. We used the Dillsboro River Company - super nice people and good prices. 

Afterwards, we went into downtown to the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory for some chocolate goodies and coffee. I got an espresso, jelly beans, rock candy and truffles! 

On our final day, we went to Highlands, North Carolina to be touristy and enjoy the shops. 

Highlands is hands down one of the prettiest places I have ever visited in the mountains. My sister used to live here when she worked for a professional theater company. 

After an afternoon there, we headed down the mountain to Cashier's Rock and to the sliding rocks. 

We had to hike a bit down to the area, and once we got there - oh my! We got to play in the cold headwaters of the Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River. 

Later that night we finished our trip with a big group dinner at the Motor Company Grill in Franklin. This place is a 1950s and 60s themed diner specializing in burgers. I got the fried pickle burger. (Or yeah.. I did!)

All in all it was an excellent trip! We ended it by having a good old fashioned Shoney's Breakfast bar and heading home.

I feel incredibly blessed to have met my Sweet Guy. His girls are awesome, as well as his family. I hope I'm still around for next year's family vacay! I'm sorry I missed my hometown's Bragg Jam Music Festival, but sometimes life requires you to let go of the past and move forward.

So much good in my life... so much good. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rabbit Food me!

The song Constant Craving comes to mind when I think of a good, cool, crisp summer salad. This summer, I have indulged my rabbit food addiction with the perfect concoctions! I want to share some of the recipes I found this year. I hope you give these a try, and tell me what you think!

As with all good recipe searches, I have found Pinterest to be my absolute favorite.
Here are my Top 3 Choices for the best summer salads you can try!

Mediterranean Tortellini Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
This salad has to be one of the most perfect pasta/vinegary salads you can try! The recipe came from a site called Eat Well With Others. Here is the basic recipe:
For the pasta:

1 lb tortellini
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the tortellini according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, place the onions in a bowl of cold water to get rid of some of the bite. Drain after 5 minutes.
When the tortellini is done cooking, toss together the onion slices, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, feta cheese, and tortellini.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Slowly pour in the olive oil and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the tortellini salad and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This yum-yum fantastic quenches two of my major cravings: Balsamic Vinegar and Watermelon! TRUST me on this flavor combo, it will surprise you! This recipe came from a site called Damned Delicious 


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 cups diced seedless watermelon
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil


To make the balsamic reduction, add balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil until thick and reduced, about 4-5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine watermelon, goat cheese, mint leaves and olive oil.
Serve immediately, drizzled with balsamic reduction.

Mexican Chopped Salad

THIS is divine, and chock full of good stuff!
I found this recipe on The Cafe Sucre Farine.

Ingredients for the dressing:
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
taste and add salt if needed

Ingredients for the tortilla strips:
6 6-inch corn tortillas
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon sea salt

Ingredients for the salad:
1 medium head romaine lettuce , chopped in approximately ½ inch pieces
1 medium bell pepper, diced in ¼-inch pieces**, I used small orange-hued peppers (the mini ones). Feel free to use whichever color you want.
½ medium red onion, diced in ¼-inch pieces**
½ medium jicama, peeled and diced in ¼-inch pieces**
1 medium zucchini, diced in ¼-inch dice**
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced into ¼-inch dice**
4 ears corn (if fresh corn is not in season, substitute 1½ cups of sweet, tiny frozen corn)
1½ cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus whole cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired

For the dressing, combine lime juice, honey, cumin garlic and salt. Stir to combine. In a slow, steady stream, add the oils, stirring continuously with a fork or small whisk. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.
For the corn tortilla strips, preheat oven to 400˚F. Stack corn tortillas on a cutting board. Cut in half. Cut each stack of halves into thin strips, crosswise, about ¼ inch thick.
Transfer tortilla strips to a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
For the salad, place corn, two ears at a time, in the microwave and cook for 3½ minutes. Remove from microwave with a hot pad and allow to cool for 5 minutes. After cooling, cut bottom end of corn off, about 1½ inches from end. Pull back husk and silks (almost all of the silk should easily pull away). Cut kernels from husks and set aside.
Combine corn and other salad ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add dressing and stir to coat all ingredients. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.
Serve with tortilla strips on top or place a bowl on the side and let guests help themselves!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Time Adventures in Georgia

My week started out with a busted bottle of Chardonnay. I was looking forward to packing this up with the rest of my belongings, to take on my mountain trip with Sweet Guy this week. 

However, the universe had other plans.

I have to admit, there is nothing quite so delish as a front porch that smells of grapes. I do hope the ants appreciate the offering I have laid at their altar.

Then of course, there was this morning - emergency trip to the dentist. My dear friend, Dr. Nicole Jackson, happens to be my dentist, so it helps when there is someone you trust, but the sound of a drill and the smell of anesthetic is not a great way to start your Monday. Apparently, I need a root canal and possibly a lobotomy, but I think the root canal is a little more necessary right now.

Back to the issue at hand - This Summer! I have racked up over 2,000 miles this summer just driving here and there. I am never home on the weekend and I am perfectly okay with that! My packing woes are getting easier and easier as I get this whole transient relationship under my belt.
 Every weekend, this is me. (See the pic to the left.) On the road again... I just can't wait to get on the road again... 
(That was my best Willie Nelson impression.)

With that being said, this summer has not disappointed. I have basked in the glow of the sun and dare I say it, I actually have a little color to my skin. My dental hygienist even noticed it. I wear super strong sunscreen - seriously, I wear 100spf. Great news - because I have not burned at all this summer. But... I suppose over time, the skin will pick up a little glow, and that I actually have. 

For fun, let's take a look at the past two weeks:

 Remember this guy?
Okay.. I'll wait.
Give up?
It's Lestat the Vampire Cat. I wanted to give you an update on him. This was a pic from last week, and he is doing very well, thank you. Stilling living with my mom and dad. I miss his little sweet face, but so glad he is healthy and happy.

This summer I have indulged a little. Several low country boils, grilling out, and of course the drink this summer was the Sangria. Yep. 

My little house museum is doing wonderfully! We've had some things done to the columns... made the news. 

You know, when you think of South Georgia.. what comes to mind? Rednecks? Trailers with big trucks and rebel flags? 

Just so you know, if you are planning a vacation and you have never thought of giving southwest Georgia a try, you are missing out! I spent the day in Columbus, GA recently and had a blast. Check out the river activities above!

Of course, a trip to Starbucks never hurts. 

 I even went to Dinglewood's for one of their famous scramble dogs. It was incredible!! Apparently it is the first scramble dog - ever! 

There was so much to do there! From zip lining to white water rafting, from paddle boating to kayaking - it was all right there and affordable (and just blocks from all of the downtown restaurants and boutiques. I highly recommend Columbus in SouthWest Georgia.

Finally, I'm having a blast down at the farm (also in Southwest Georgia.) Sweet Guy and I are here riding around on the 4 wheeler. 

 Even had a chance to take my niece and sister to the cabin for the weekend. 

So much good... so much happiness... 

How is life going for you?


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