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Complimentary Winter 2021 Volume 12, Issue 1

Inspiring, Informing, Enriching

Love is in Bloom Ready, Set, Goals! Chocolates, Flowers, and Cash Delicious Meals Under Pressure Winter Wonderland at Beech Mountain 2021 Wedding Guide

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Ready, Set, Goal! Flawless Wedding Design 5 Tips to Getting the Best Wedding Photos Guest Experiences Make the Most of Small Weddings Wallet Friendly Winter Wonderland in Beech Mountain Delicious Meals Under Pressure 2

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18 DEPARTMENTS Letter from the Editor Dog Eared Fish Out of Water Dollars & Sense Robert’s World

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Chances are, the birth of your baby will be a happy, healthy experience. Still, peace of mind is priceless, and it’s good to know that Floyd stands ready 24/7 with the advanced care necessary should your baby need intensive care following birth. As the area’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, our expert team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists provides high tech care with a compassionate touch for the tiniest newborns.


Letter From the Editor


What’s in The Stars?


think of myself as someone that can get through the toughest of times. One of my favorite sayings is, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Last year was the Chinese Year of the Rat, and we can all agree on how life-changing it was overall. From every setback or pivotal change, we should have learned something. Fortitude, yes. Bringing back the inner child, better! A child lives in the moment whether they are playing or falling. They keep on going one day at a time. For me, living in the moment could be as simple as enjoying an old-fashioned night at home. Who doesn’t love to snuggle up next to your hubby with your cat in your lap, binge-watching a chick flick while eating a massive bowl of popcorn, the real homemade kind drizzled with butter? I’d have to say Jerry is a good sport, really smart, or both because, when Mama is happy, everyone is happy. As a teenager, I loved astrology. Partially, I wanted to believe that being an Aries, I was confident, bold, spontaneous, and passionate. Truthfully, I aspired to have those traits, and thankfully I developed them later in life. At the time, it was interesting to read about the different astrological signs and who you were best suited to love. Supposedly, Aries match best with other Aries and Leos. I guess I forgot because I married a Capricorn. Yes, they are driven and hardworking, but enough with the weekend projects! They are not the best at communicating. Fortunately, I also read minds. Let’s have some fun and look at some predictions for the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox, to find inspiration and hope. In the Chinese zodiac, the Ox is very hardworking and methodical. This year more than ever, work will be rewarded, and for some, wealth, especially windfalls, will be best in 2021. Anything has to be better than last year, right? On a different front, the Chinese also predict the year to be perfect for focusing on relationships, whether friendships or love. The Year of the Ox is highly influenced by Venus, the planet of love, which can boost or adversely impact the emotions you have in your love life. The website Chinesezodiac.org said it would be best to avoid fights with your partner. Now that is astonishing news! I continue to learn something new each day. It did also say that being peaceful will make romance bloom. Bloom and grow is my new mantra. I still don’t think it will give me a green thumb, but peace and harmony can only make one happier. On cold winter nights, Jerry and I often get Chinese take out. The last fortune cookie’s message I have kept on the refrigerator, “Do not rush through life; pause and enjoy it.” I’m certainly going to try.

Winter 2021   Volume 12   Issue 1

Publisher and Founder Editor-In-Chief Laura Wood Erickson Creative Director Andi Counts Designers Andi Counts Mackenzie Kuhn Senior Editor Calendar for Living Editor Ciara N. Mealer crookedpage@gmail.com Editor Gene Murphy Elin Woods Sales Laura Wood Erickson wood.laura@yahoo.com Contributing Writers Kelli Barnes Gay Brownlee Kate Clayton Ande Frazier Andrea Kelley Ciara N. Mealer Jennifer Nowicki Kathy Patrick Robert Smyth Rachel Turner Photography Andrea Kelley Contact us at: (706)346-9858 wood.laura@yahoo.com NW Georgia Living P.O. Box 72546 Marietta, Ga 30007 NW Georgia Living is published bi-monthly by L. Wood LLC No portion of this issue may be copied, scanned, or reproduced in any manner without prior written consent from the publisher.




By Ciara N. Mealer

2021 NW Georgia Living

Reading Challenge


irtual challenges have become more and more popular over the last several years. Inktober draws artists of every skill level every October, while NaNoWriMo is a November staple for writers worldwide. Each year several websites and publications host reading challenges to encourage readers to set literary goals, track their accomplishments, and step outside of their comfort zones. I hope you will all join me in finding great new books to fit each challenge on this list. Your primary goals in reading should always be enjoyment, enrichment, and enlightenment, and I hope that you will find those things this year through this challenge. These websites host popular reading challenges: www.booklistqueen.com www.goodreads.com www.popsugar.com A book recommended by a friend. A debut novel. A book with a green cover. A collection of poetry published in the last five years. A non-fiction book.

 novel translated from A another language.

A book with a very long title.

A book written for children or teens.

A collection of short stories.

A self-improvement book.  book you keep meaning to read but A never get around to.

A novel from a local author.

A novel set in Canada.

 bestseller from the year you A were born.

A new 2021 title. A humorous book.

A full-cast audiobook.

A book written by a person of color.

A book with a place name in the title.

A book set in your favorite decade. A historical fiction set in Asia. A book that features mythology. A novel by an indie author. A novel that is the first in a series.  book on a topic that makes A you uncomfortable. A food memoir.

Ciara N. Mealer is Senior Editor at NW Georgia Living Magazine, a

writer, and owns East of the Moon Tarot where she offers a range of intuitive services. When she isn’t reading or creating weird art for charity, you can find her on the trails of the North Georgia Mountains. Contact her at CrookedPage@gmail.com



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Prizes include: Win a weekend stay at Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Rome’s Award-Winning Downtown Boutique Hotel. Relax and enjoy the unique combination of historic charm and modern amenities in a beautifully renovated 1907 warehouse with original wood floors, brick walls, and sky-lit atrium. Many local restaurants and shops are within a short walking distance. Prize includes: • A two-night stay in a spacious king room • A full, southern-style breakfast buffet for two each morning • Fitness gym and bike-sharing program available • $50 Visa gift card! Visit Off Broad for drinks, appetizers, entrees, & desserts.

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By Gay Brownlee


s a health coach, goal setting is a conversation I often have. For most of us, at least one thing on our list seems to show up annually, which may leave us feeling frustrated. Maybe you’ve even thought you’d be better off with no New Year’s resolutions at all. I desire that you will be hope-filled for the life you can create in 2021. When it comes to goal setting, we must back them up with the right kind of motivation. Motivation comes from either wanting to resolve a problem or hoping for a desired outcome. With health and weight, we seem to be especially susceptible to motivation based on a problem. Research shows that the problem-solving orientation correlates with an oscillating pattern, better known as yo-yoing in the weight loss industry. While those tight jeans or a bad report at your last doctor’s visit might create some motivation and even urgency for change, far too often, the change is temporary. Action is taken, and the jeans fit better, or the next doctor’s report is improved, and unfortunately, the



motivation is gone too. In Dr. A’s Habits of Health, Dr. Wayne Andersen says that “having goals is a good first step, but goals alone aren’t enough” and emphasizes the importance of positioning our goals within a structure that supports them. Having a realistic picture of where we are now and a complete picture of where we want to be, helps us see what steps to take to get us there. There’s a saying, “Pain pushes until desire pulls.” Having awareness around this dynamic allows us to structure our goals differently and leverage the right kind of motivation for lasting change. 3 Steps to Setting Up Structural Tension Step 1. Start with the end in mind. What is your desired health? Do more than put

habit assessment, mindset, skillset, and attitude. Once you have your current reality and your desired health in front of you, feel the tension created by the difference in where you are and where you want to be. We call this structural tension, and it is a great motivator for action. Step 3. Identify your action steps. What action is needed to take you from where you are currently to where you want to be? Choosing the right action steps is an integral part of this process. Think about what habits you are going to develop over time to create the outcome you want and become the type of person who achieves those things. The quality of habits and patterns you develop over time is going to determine your overall

Your Turn When I have people do this exercise, I like to put their desired health outcome at the top of a paper, their current reality at the bottom, and the action steps in the middle. I invite you to do that. It will be natural for your thoughts to focus on what you are moving away from, those things we see as less than optimal about ourselves or our situation. With your goals at the top, you are reminded to focus on what you are moving toward and creating in your life. Develop the habit of making that mental shift. When was the last time you asked yourself what you really wanted? Celebrate your freedom to make choices that allow you to create the healthiest version of yourself. This time can be different.

Pain pushes until desire pulls. numbers down on a piece of paper. What does success look like and feel like for you? Spend some time digging deep to discover why reaching your health goals matter to you. How will they support you in your life and allow you to show up the way you want around the things that matter most to you? How will they impact you in your different roles? When I talk to my clients about their desired health goals, I like for them to focus on the idea of creating the life they want for themselves. This is about more than what they want to achieve; it’s also about who they want to become. What kind of person achieves these goals? What characteristics do they have? The right vision will motivate you to keep moving toward your goals or get back up when you stumble. Step 2. What is your current reality? Be honest with yourself about where you are currently in relation to where you want to be. You can start with the numbers, the biometrics, and health assessment results and include a current


success. Achieving a goal only changes your life for a moment unless the system focuses on changing habits. James Clear states in Atomic Habits, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Your action steps are your system, the process you are following to install habits into your life. The Power of Choice Remember that these steps often include doing some things we don’t like doing and not doing some things we enjoy doing, but because we strongly value the outcome, we make the choice. These steps are choices, often daily choices, that, when repeated over time, become habits. Outcome-oriented motivation highlights this freedom, and our chance for sustainable change goes way up. Action taken because we need to or have to try and fix bad health can be very deflating. Actions taken to support the things we want become an expression of our freedom to create those things. Every time you make a choice consistent with your goals is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. The things we believe about ourselves are often our biggest obstacles. Over time, the evidence is built that you are the type of person that achieves your health goals.

Ideas for great actions steps: • Be specific about not only the action you will take but also when and where. • Create cues that will be associated with the action. • Avoid complicated systems when trying to develop new habits. • Include a routine system of accountability. • Include intentional actions to build your support community made up of those also working toward health goals. • Utilize a continuity calendar to track consistency and a chart to record progress. • Think outside the box. For example, starting a gratitude journal will shift a mindset focused on problems. Gay Brownlee is

a Certified Health Coach and the owner of Wonderfully Made Healthy and Wellness Group. She offers a coaching program with the tagline Lifelong Transformation, One Healthy Habit at a Time. Gay’s passion is to offer hope to those who have felt defeated in the area of health.



By Rachel Turner

A Lush Day in North Georgia


ine slushies. Put a pin in that, and we’ll revisit. For my birthday (and the other recent birthdays in our group), my mother-in-law and a few close friends treated ourselves to a day out at the North Georgia Wineries. This was only my second visit, and it had been several years since I’d made it up that way. For years I kept thinking, “I need to do that again.” Like most people trying to keep up with the pace of life, I had great intentions of getting away to do something fun, but other things always happened. Adults have a terrible habit of rationalizing away their fun for the sake of others. I’m not saying you should visit wineries every weekend. What I am saying is that at some point, you just have to do it. The world you are trying to keep running at home will wait. I have always loved North Georgia. Growing up, if we were going to the mountains, we were about to head to an apple festival, pan for gold, or even get a new baby at Babyland General Hospital, home of the Cabbage Patch Kids. As our lives move on and we grow up, the experiences we were fond of still bubble up with the same excitement that we had when we were kids. All that to say that as I get older, I notice so many things change. People pass away, experiences shift to memories, and we make new ones with the people younger than us. It is an honor to anchor the next generations’ childhood memories, but it’s hard to let your own slip into the background. I think that’s why when I go to places like


North Georgia, it’s comforting to find familiarity and happy memories. It’s nice to “go back” and relive those times. Though, now that I’m well over 21, I can do it with wine, which makes it even better, am I right? We hired a local driver (which I highly recommend doing) and made a day of two equally beautiful vineyards nestled back in the rolling hills of North Georgia. Driving through the mountains to get to Montaluce on a beautiful day was perfection as far as I am concerned. It didn’t much matter what we were doing, but I was excited about the wineries. We had a reservation to eat on the patio at Montaluce Winery and Restaurant, a beautiful place set back off the road, and that makes you feel like you are entering Tuscany. The buildings, several of which you can rent, look like Italian Villas. It’s a trendy wedding location, and I completely understand why. The views from every angle take your breath away, and the food is divine.

I paired a Montaluce Chardonnay with the fanciest grilled cheese and tomato soup I have ever eaten. I will never be satisfied with one of my grilled cheese sandwiches ever again. Do you know about Gruyere? I mean, I was “Gruyere aware.” Still, I did not understand the power of this cheese until I was sitting on an Italian inspired patio in the North Georgia Mountains with a glass of wine and a day of no responsibilities. I may never come down off my Gruyere high, and that’s okay. The wine was delicious, but let’s unpack the wine for a second. My husband loves wine. He tastes all the variations of the wine’s things and sticks glasses under my nose and whatnot. I strain to appreciate the “legs” on that one or the tannins in this one. He knows how to pick out some fantastic wine in all price ranges, and I’m very grateful to have him. Now, me? Some, if not all, of the wine analysis is completely lost on me. My palate has changed over www.nwgeorgialiving.com

the years, mainly due to being married to a wine guy, and I don’t love the overly sweet wines that I did in my early twenties anymore. I appreciate crisper, dryer wines with some sweetness. These wines were just that. Refreshing, not too sweet, not too dry. I mean, they offered a lot of wines, so there is quite possibly something for everyone, but I could not try them all because I had to get home at some point that day. Montaluce provided a beautiful lunch on a gorgeous patio with great food and ambiance! Hop over to the gift shop when you are done and smell the candles. You’ll thank me. Remember, I mentioned wine slushies? I highly recommend heading over to Cavendar Creek Winery, grabbing a comfy spot around the firepit, and ordering a wine slushy. I mean, you can order a regular glass of one of their exceptional wines. That’s fine. We can still be friends. Cavendar Creek is equally beautiful, but for different reasons. Where Montaluce is Tuscan-inspired, Cavendar Creek is true to its Georgia Mountain rustic roots. With several cabins to rent, you can make a weekend of this beautiful

Rachel Turner is a

vineyard. The feeling at Cavendar is a little more laid back and casual and is a great place to park yourself, try some excellent wines, and visit with friends. This is where we kicked back, let the stories flow, and laughed. We broke up the wine slushies with some delicious appetizers and enjoyed the sunshine of a beautiful Georgia day. I have no idea how long we were there. I guess that’s how you know you have relaxed when you don’t check your phone at all. It was a perfect way to celebrate an upcoming birthday. Overall, Montaluce and Cavendar Creek are two great options for a day out. I would go to Montaluce for brunch, take a friend out for a lovely afternoon, or go on a romantic date. The people are kind, and the environment feels a little more formal. You have a feeling of being transported to another country. Cavendar Creek is an afternoon around the table, laughing with your best girlfriends. Or you could do what we did, have the best of both worlds by treating yourself to our fair queen, Gruyere, and follow it up with a wine slushy. To me, that sounds like the perfect day.

Choose Heatherwood,where living is easy!

freelance writer and humor blogger. Her humor ebook, Cut Film Cover to Vent: I’m not Superwoman but I’m Decent Enough is available to purchase on Amazon. Georgia born and raised she lives in Woodstock with her husband and two sons. Drop by her blog, rachelwriteshere.com or email her at justpeachy1123@gmail.com.

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By Ande Frazier

Chocolates, Flowers, and Cash


hocolate, flowers, dinner, dessert, and a nice glass of wine are all staples of a great romantic date night. It’s a perfect time to reflect on your relationship, show your partner how much you care for them, and look towards the future. What about using this opportunity for openness with your partner to talk about money? Couples are not always on the same page when it comes to their money. It’s an emotional subject. Everyone’s taught about it differently. Even if you and your partner aren’t on the same page, you can discover if you are at least in the same book. A recent survey found that 36% of couples say money causes the most stress in their relationship. What’s even more interesting is that younger couples (ages 18-54) were almost twice as likely to list money as their top stressor. One of the top reasons cited by couples for divorce is financial issues. Given all this, doesn’t it make sense to have this conversation early and often? Laying your financial life bare can get emotional, and feelings of embarrassment, shame, anger, and/or vulnerability can bubble up. So above all else, the feeling you’re going for is one of openmindedness, love, and respect during these difficult conversations. How we experienced money growing up has a significant impact on us as adults. Some of us may have grown up comfortably, while others watched their parents struggle for every dollar made. Sometimes growing up without money can make us more of a spender when we have it, or it can scare us into saving every penny for fear of it running out. 12

No matter how you grew up and view money, it’s vital that you are open about your finances with your partner. Start by discussing each of your approaches to spending money. What kinds of things do you think are worth splurging on and saving for? Do you both have a good idea of what you have coming in and what’s going out? Do you track every penny, or are you more of a 50/30/20 rule kind of person? What are your short-term money plans? Here’s where you can get a feel for where you’re headed together. Do you have debt that needs to be paid off? Are you striving towards building that emergency fund? Will either of you need to change jobs any time soon? Are you both currently saving for retirement? What are your dreams for the future?

Are you working toward them? This is the fun part. Do you want to buy a home in a few years? What do you dream about when you dream about retirement? Putting those things out on the table will help you understand why the other person may be making today’s financial choices and allows you to get in sync with working on these as a couple. It is also a great idea to bring in some additional support. Working with a financial professional can allow the two of you to talk about where you stand individually, and as a couple, with your money goals. By working with a professional, you can get guidance about different financial products, planning techniques, and tax laws surrounding critical financial decisions. They can also serve as that neutral third party to ask www.nwgeorgialiving.com

questions of the both of you that lead to a coming together of your mutual objectives. Some important things to discuss to get the conversation started are: Cash Flow: Do you have separate accounts, joint accounts, or both? How do you determine who is responsible for what? Protection: What are your thoughts about insurance and the role it will play in your planning? Have you discussed your wills, asset ownership, and complicated family dynamics? Savings: How much do you want to have, and who is responsible for making sure this gets handled? Growth: What is your investment philosophy and risk profile? Is this different from your partner? Debt: Getting clear about what you both have separately and jointly. Do you have a payoff plan? Who is ultimately responsible for getting this debt paid off? Taxes: Do you file a joint return? Or is there a reason to file separately? Oftentimes, we do not think deeply about our financial safety when we fall in love and marry. We believe that the love we have for our partner will protect us from hardship or, at the very least, through tough financial times. It doesn’t always work out that way, though, does it? To best protect yourself from getting blindsided by an unexpected event, it is essential that you both maintain transparency around your money. If you find that you are getting push back from your partner, don’t ignore those red flags. Some things to look out for are: • They have debt but won’t discuss how they got into debt. • They won’t discuss with you what their plans are regarding how they are going to address it and pay it off. • They are highly secretive about their money and tell you they have things under control. • They don’t share with you details about the financial aspects of your shared money. Rich or poor, talking about money is never easy. Challenge yourself to be open and transparent with your partner and see how this conversation can take you to a new place in your relationship. There may be specific things you will need to address and want to change. Do so by going back to your intention and willingness to be vulnerable. Take it slow but don’t give up. If you can build a relationship with trust and openness around money, you will both be better off, and you’ll be better off together, too. Ande Frazier CFP®, CLU, ChFC, RICP, BFA™, ChSNC, CDFA® (www.andefrazier.com) is the ForbesBook author of Fin(anci)ally Free: 11 Conversations To Have With Yourself About Life, Money, and Worth and an expert in behavioral finance. She is not only a recognized thought leader, author and speaker, but also serves as a Partner at Clocktower Wealth Management, LLC. www.nwgeorgialiving.com



Flawless Wedding Design By Kate Clayton


edding design is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of planning a wedding, but it can also be one of the toughest. It requires you to blend your colors, linens, floral, and decor to create a seamless, beautiful look that matches your vision. With Pinterest and social media offering unlimited inspiration, it can become a bit overwhelming. The good news is it can be accomplished. Here are a few tips on how to make your vision a reality! What do you need to design? When meeting with clients to design their wedding, we look at each aspect of the wedding. If you’ve never planned a wedding, it’s hard to grasp all the places you need to “design.” The list below will help you think through all the possible areas you may have at your wedding. Remember, each wedding is different, so you may be adding to or removing items from the list below. Welcome/Guestbook Table Ceremony Altar Ceremony Aisle Cocktail Hour Tables In-Memory Table


 ead Table or H Sweetheart Table Guest Tables Cake Table Favor Table

Select Your Style Perhaps the most essential step in the process is determining your overall style. When looking for inspiration, most of us will select a variety of decor and floral items. Perhaps you like rustic lanterns lining the ceremony aisle but opt for classic floating candles for your centerpieces. Or, you love a wooden welcome sign but prefer gold table numbers. There are so many themes to choose from, and all are beautiful. However, you need to select an overall look you like and stick with it rather than moving from one style to the next. Whether it is classic, rustic, modern, boho, vintage, or one of the many others, you want to create a seamless flow as you move from one part of the wedding to the next. www.nwgeorgialiving.com

Photography courtesy of Andrea Kelley Photography

Color Palette When creating your color palette, your starting point should be the primary color you would like to use, and then you move into your accent colors. Your primary color will be what you use for your bridesmaids’ dresses, and you will see it mixed in throughout your design. Consider a pop in your flowers, the dinner napkins on your tables, the font on your invitations, or for your favors. The ways you can mix it in are entirely up to you. The next step is to choose accent colors. Pinterest is full of color palettes to show you how accents can match your primary color, so it’s a great starting point. Two to three accent colors will help add some variety without blending in too many colors. Two of these colors will likely be the primary colors for your florals (not including greenery), and the last accent color can be the gold, silver, rose gold, or bronze you use in some of your decor. For example, a typical color palette for spring and summer is a dusty blue as your primary color, a blush and white for your florals, and then gold mixed into your decor, such as the candles or signs you use. Just like your style should be consistent throughout, maintaining your color palette will create a flawless look. Florals Now that you have your color palette, it makes it much easier to create your floral design. It’s always a good idea to meet with the florist early on, so he or she can tell you what is in season and give you the flower options that match your palette. Once you have your overall look and types of flowers in mind, the next step would be to determine their best locations. Below is a general list of what you will need. Guest Book Table — A small arrangement here to add a pop of color. If you have any welcome signs, a floral swag added to the top really makes the sign beautiful. Ceremony Aisle — Rose petals down the aisle or pew markers (florals tied to chairs or pews) are easy ways to dress up the ceremony aisle. Altar — You want this area to stand out, so consider adding an arbor, cross, or tall florals to make it a focal point. Cocktail Hour Tables — If you choose to add florals here, keep them small because the tables quickly become crowded. Centerpieces — You have tons of floral or decor centerpieces options, so check out lots of pictures and find what matches your style. Don’t be afraid to mix and match centerpieces (Ex. half tall florals and half candles with flowers around them). Varying heights can also be stunning. www.nwgeorgialiving.com

Cake — Many forget about this one! Send a picture to your florist and planner, so it is decorated how you want it. Make sure to be consistent and use the same types of flowers you’ve used throughout. Bouquets — Make your bouquet stand out, and then have the bridesmaid bouquets compliment yours. A great way to do this is to add a pop of color to yours. For example, with the color palette mentioned above, the bridesmaids could have greenery, white, and blush florals. Yours would be the same, but larger and with pale blue hydrangeas. Boutonnieres — Same for the boutonnieres in that you want the groom to stand out. Corsages — Use the same flowers and decide if a pinned or wrist corsage better matches the look you want. Decor The trick with decor is to try to make it flow and not pull in too many random items. Selecting a style first and sticking with it will significantly help your decor selection. Depending on how heavy you want to go with florals, you may use lots of decor or very little. For example, some would prefer to line the ceremony aisle with candles rather than florals. Your centerpieces could be gold candle globes with just a floral touch instead of a typical vase with flowers. It’s a great idea to work on florals and decor at the same time so that you can think through how they will complement one another. While it is a lot to think about, the wedding design can be so much fun. You have a blank drawing board, so enjoy the process and create your dream wedding! Kate Clayton is co-owner of White Vine Weddings, a wedding planning, coordination, and design company based in Cartersville, GA. After teaching middle school English for eleven years, Kate made the transition into the wedding industry. When not working or chasing her twin boys, Kate loves to run, read, and be on the go. She lives in Cartersville with her husband and two sons. 15

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5 Tips to Getting the Story and photos by Andrea Kelley


s a newly engaged bride-to-be, you will likely have tips and wedding planning advice coming from all sides. There is so much fantastic information at your fingertips, but it can be overwhelming at times. As a wedding photographer, I believe your photography and the experience with your photographer are some of the highest priorities in planning a wedding. You walk away from your wedding with just two tangible things: your new spouse and the photos taken to help you relive those memories. I hope to offer a few helpful insights to make those photos and your wedding photography experience the best it possibly can be from my own experiences.


Choose a photographer based on more than the budget. As with any aspect of wedding planning, staying within a budget is essential, but it is crucial to consider a few other factors when choosing a photographer. This person will be with you, capturing some of your most cherished memories, on the biggest day of your life. Your photographer should be someone you feel a connection to, who makes you feel at ease, and has a personality that clicks with you. Also, consider a photographer’s style. Follow their work and pay attention to consistency. A consistent photography style should give you an idea of how your photos will look and help set the stage for expectations on both sides of the relationship. Choose someone that you trust completely. This will impact your day and how you feel about your photos more than you can imagine!


Best Wedding Photos


Hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator. You might wonder what this has to do with your photos, but it is so essential to your day’s overall success and flow, and ultimately, that has a significant impact on the quality of your photographs. There is an infinite number of moving parts on a wedding day, and a coordinator makes sure that all of those parts run as smoothly as possible, so you aren’t worrying about logistics, set up, or coordination of other vendors. If you or a close family member are trying to run the day, you will be so distracted that photos will fall down your list of priorities. Without a coordinator, your schedule is much more likely to run behind, people may not be ready when needed, and you might miss out on some of the crucial moments. Peace of mind goes a long way on a wedding day. The more in the moment you can be, the better your whole day is going to feel.




Consider a first look with your fiancé. As a bride, you will hear many opinions on this topic, and while, ultimately, you should make the best decision for you and your fiancé, let me explain how it can significantly improve your photography experience. By opting for a first look, you will get more couple portraits in your wedding gallery. It is a perfect way to knock out the traditional, must-have photos early in the day and allow your photographer to have some creative freedom later in the day. A first look will also get you to your reception to celebrate with your loved ones a lot quicker after the ceremony because so many of the day’s photos will already be done. A first look also allows you and your fiancé to have a quiet moment alone earlier in the day to soak in the significance of the moment. A moment to embrace, whisper to each other, and take a deep breath to relieve wedding day nerves. If you anticipate feeling anxious on your big day, this is a great option to help alleviate some of those nerves. To those couples who worry that sharing a first look could take away from the moments walking down the aisle, I say with confidence that I have never seen that be the case.

Understand the impact that your color choices have on your photos. Color palettes set the groundwork for the look and feel of your day, but they also play a massive role in the overall feel of photos. Soft, light colors and neutrals help contribute to an overall light and bright photo, while darker, bold tones result in heavier pictures. This is something to keep in mind as you consider the look you hope to achieve and the overall style of the photographer you have chosen. It’s also important to consider how your wedding color palette will look with your venue’s aesthetics and how they will complement each other. Using lighter colors as primary colors and darker or bolder colors as accents will help balance out any potential heaviness. If you have chosen a venue with lots of dark accents, wood, or other bold surroundings, consider lighter colors to balance it all out. Similarly, if your venue is very modern, full of white or light accents or lots of natural light, you can get away with a few bolder color choices while still having bright and beautiful photos.


Give special attention to your details. Your wedding day represents your story. Details are the best way to tell that story. Including lots of personal information on your wedding day helps your photographer tell your story to the fullest through your photo gallery. The more details, the better! Remember to be intentional in those details. I love it when a bride incorporates heirloom items, sentimental things to emphasize the day’s significance. Not just bridal details; I love it when a couple includes something meaningful to their story as part of a wedding favor or comes up with a fun signature drink with a story behind it. Details make your day uniquely yours, and there are so many great ways you can use that to make your day a little extra special. Planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming but remember, it should also be fun. If you feel overwhelmed by all the decisions, try breaking it down to tackle a little at a time. Make a priority list and let that be your guide and at the end of the day, be true to you and your fiancé. Finally, take advantage of your vendors and their knowledge. Hire experienced vendors that you truly trust and ask for their help, opinions, and advice. Most vendors love to help their brides and offer their unique insight into the wedding world. Your vendors can be so much more valuable than you realize. www.nwgeorgialiving.com

Andrea Kelley, owner, and lead photographer for Andrea Kelley Photography, specializes in natural light portrait photography in the North Georgia area. With a focus on couples and weddings, she also enjoys working with families and high school seniors. Visit www.andreakelleyphoto. com or e-mail info@andreakelleyphoto.com for more information.


s r hee


to 2021 and planning your stress-f ree wedding!






Wedding & Portrait Photographer www.andreakelleyphoto.com info@andreakelleyphoto.com 706.767.1786




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Wedding Trends

Make the Most of Your Small Wedding with

Guest Experiences By Kelli Barnes

Photography courtesy of Andrea Kelley Photography


eddings have changed a bit in the last 12 months with the COVID of it all, but that’s no excuse to settle for a boring event. We’ve seen guest lists dwindle to follow guidelines and adhere to social distancing restrictions. We’ve seen postponements and cancellations. We’ve also seen couples move forward with their wedding plans even though they weren’t excited about all the changes. It’s time to embrace change and smaller guest lists! Despite the unprecedented horrors of 2020, one wedding trend has emerged, and we are here for it. Luxury microweddings are by far the one bright spot in the vast darkness of cancellations and postponements. Couples are using their smaller guest lists to their advantage, creating an intimate and meaningful experience for those most important guests. Other than the prerequisite ceremony and reception, what can you do to really wow your guests? We’ve compiled a list of experiential ways to integrate your guests into the very fabric of the celebration. Some are very general ideas that work for any location, and some are unique to NW Georgia. For All Guests • Welcome Party — The idea of hosting a welcome gettogether for guests coming into town for your wedding isn’t anything new. Traditionally, this event occurs a couple of days before the wedding and generally consists of a short cocktail hour at the hotel bar or host’s home. Take this opportunity to set up an experience for your guests and impress them right from the start. Here are a few ideas you can implement to spice up your welcome party: • Mixology Class — Hire a professional mixologist to bring a selection of liquors, mixers, and other fresh ingredients and lead a short bartending class. Have guests compete in a mix-off, creating interesting concoctions with the winners becoming the signature cocktails for the wedding reception. • Scavenger Hunt — Set up a fun photo scavenger hunt using phone pics and clues about the couple and places they love. This works well if your welcome party venue is located in



For the Ladies • Floral Workshop — Partner with a floral designer who can lead your closest friends in creating their bouquets. Let your bridesmaids show their individuality by building their unique mix of florals in your chosen color palette. Not only do you get beautiful fresh bouquets, but you also enjoy making specials memories with your bridesmaids. Want to include moms, other family members, and guests? While bridesmaids are working on their bouquets, all the other ladies can learn the art of creating a floral centerpiece that will be used during the reception. Two Stems Artisan Floral Design specializes in creating a fun instructional workshop experience and recommends scheduling this activity to follow the bridesmaid luncheon 1-2 days before the wedding. • Treat Yo’Self Brunch — Have the professionals come to you. Treat the ladies in your wedding party to a luxury beauty experience with onsite hair and makeup. Consult your venue for options on a great spot to get ready or go offsite with a great Airbnb. You have to get your hair done, and you have to eat. You might as well make it a party. Let Graze Table Co. provide a delicious brunch board and mimosa bar.

a downtown area where guests can easily walk around and explore. • MYOF — Make Your Own Favor! Guests can get crafty, creating a handmade favor with local artists and creative vendors. From custom painted canvases to personalized painted champagne glasses perfect for toasting at the wedding, your guests can enjoy a fun workshop-style experience. • Dance Instruction — Hire a professional dance instructor to lead a short, interactive dance class during your welcome party. Choose an easy-to-learn formal “ballroom” dance that will get your guests out on the dancefloor during slow songs, or go with a fun new group dance that will put the Electric Slide to shame. Not really into the welcome “cocktail party” scene? Introduce your guests to something fun you enjoy doing as a couple. Outdoor activities are always a favorite and are mostly COVID-appropriate. Take advantage of some of the local favorites around Rome. • BBQ Picnic and Kickball Game — Burk Farm is a fantastic location to host an outdoor fun afternoon, especially if kiddos are invited. • Cookout Lunch — Taylor Estate is the perfect property for your guests to enjoy a covered open-air pavilion, stocked lake, and plenty of open space for games. • Oak Hill Tour and Berry College Nature Hike. • Downtown Rome and Clocktower History Tour. • River Cruise on the Roman Holiday with an onboard wine and cheese tasting. www.nwgeorgialiving.com

For the Gentlemen • Ax Throwing — Rome Axe Throwing has a mobile trailer that can come out to your location of choice. Follow up with beer and brats for the boys! • Golf Outing — Make it enjoyable with friendly bets and pay for gimmes, skipping holes, and mulligans with all cash going toward the newlywed fund. • Beer Tasting — Visit The Foundry for a tasting and build-yourown six-pack to take home. • Poker Night — Professional dealers and table set-up give the evening that casino feeling. During the Reception • Depending on your venue, arrange for a horse-drawn carriage ride for guests to enjoy throughout the evening. • Interactive beverage and hors d’oeuvres stations like a fun, bubbly bar, bruschetta bar, or grazing table. • Treat guests to coffee for a great cause. Feature the Java Joy (javajoy.org) truck for a cozy addition to the cake after dinner. • Cocktail hour entertainment with live music performer, a firebreather, or sword swallower. As you can see by this extensive list, there are many ways to add a personal experience for your guests. If organizing all of this seems a bit daunting, partnering with an event production company or bringing your wedding planner in on the action can be a welcome relief. Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is to stay true to yourself; that will make all the difference in creating an unforgettable experience for your guests. Kelli Barnes is a founding partner at Southern Event Consulting. Our team has you covered with wedding planning and design, day of wedding management, branding/stationery, floral design and installation, and full service catering. Start planning your stress-free memorable wedding day at southerneventconsulting.com. 23


Wallet-Friendly Winter Wonderland in

BEECH MOUNTAIN, NC By Jennifer Nowicki


ith sweeping views of snow-capped mountain tops from 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain, NC, is the ideal destination for winter adventure. Once the 80 inches of yearly snowfall blanket the pristine mountain hideaway, this magical destination becomes a budget-friendly winter haven for adventurers of every age and skill level. The area is within driving distance of Northwest Georgia, and more affordable than other ski resort towns yet offers visitors the same unforgettable winter sports options with fewer crowds and more affordable pricing.

As one of the only breweries owned and operated by a ski resort, the locally loved Beech Mountain Brewing Co. brews a variety of ales on-site. (Photo by Beech

Mountain TDA)


ELEVATED WINTER SPORTS, NOT PRICES As the highest town in Eastern America, Beech Mountain provides the climate, vistas, and terrain for a spectacular winter getaway. Ski, Shred, Skate At the Beech Mountain Resort, guests can take advantage of a perfect home base within the Town of Beech Mountain to enjoy exciting winter sports and activities without the high price tags. As the highest ski area in Eastern America, with 17 trails and eight lifts, there is something for beginners to the most experienced riders at the Beech Mountain Resort. Guests can gently cruise the snowy slopes of the tubing runs, glide around the ice-skating rink, or soar down the mountain on novice, intermediate, and advanced skiing and snowboarding trails. Those new to skiing and snowboarding need not worry. The Resort offers day camps for ages 3-14 and an extensive Ski & Ride School for those ready to learn the ropes of the snowy slopes. Experienced skiers and snowboarders will ensure that

students master more advanced techniques or learn how to ski and snowboard safely for the first time. Tubing For an activity the entire family can enjoy, the Beech Mountain Resort offers snow tubing at their state-of-the-art tubing park adjacent to the Resort Village, located between parking lots two and three. Within the Village, guests can also access the ice-skating rink, shop for apparel and souvenirs, grab a cup of coffee, or chow down on classic American fare offered by the Brewing Co. Taproom & Grill and The Lodge. FREE WINTER ADVENTURES The town also offers plenty of unique excursions that are free to visitors. Snowshoeing Snowshoeing is not just reserved for the tundra! Adventurers can strap on a pair of snowshoes and embark on a frosty hike through Beech Mountain’s 30 miles of town-maintained trails. Those interested can stop into the Buckeye Recreation Center and check out a pair of snowshoes www.nwgeorgialiving.com

At 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain offers visitors the highest ski area in the eastern United States. (Photo by Sam Dean)

to use, free of charge, on the trails that wind around the mountain. Trails range in level of difficulty, with the Emerald Outback Trails at the top of the mountain being more suitable for experienced trekkers. For beginners, a 1/3-mile walking trail surrounding the Buckeye Recreation Center is suggested. Additionally, free, guided excursions can be scheduled with the recreation center at least 24 hours in advance. Sledding Weather permitting, from early December through early March, the Beech Mountain Youth Sledding Hill provides free fun for children 12 and under. The Sledding Hill is centrally located in the town adjacent to the Visitor Center and Beech Mountain’s Town Hall and is open to riders daily and select holidays. Those looking to slide down the mountain are encouraged to bring their plastic sleds or rent or purchase a sled from one of three stores conveniently located within walking distance of the hill. For safety and supervision, parents can ride with smaller children. Safety personnel are on duty only during posted hours. www.nwgeorgialiving.com

Above: The town of Beech Mountain is adjacent to the slopes and offers the convenience of lodging, restaurants, shops and nightlife. (Photo by

Beech Mountain TDA)

Above right: Beech Mountain Resort has recently added a state-of-the-art snowtubing park featuring runs with sweeping views of the mountains. (Photo by Kristian Jackson) Right: The youth sledding hill in the Town of Beech Mountain offers free fun for children. (Photo by Beech Mountain TDA)

Facing page: Soak in the panoramic vistas as you sip a beverage or grab a bite to eat at the glass roundhouse just a few steps off the chairlift at the top of the mountain. (Photo by Sam Dean)


two-bedroom condominiums. All are complete with full kitchens, cozy living rooms, and fireplaces. Beech Mountain Realty & Rentals offers various lodging selections with choices ranging from economy to luxury accommodations on Beech Mountain, with pet-friendly options. Perfect for ski season with proximity to the slopes, Beech Mountain Chalet Rentals offers various vacation rentals to please even the most discerning renter ranging from small studios to 7-bedroom houses for the larger families. As snowboarding has increased in popularity, Beech Mountain has kept pace with that growth with stateof-the-art equipment and expert instruction. (Photo by Beech Mountain Resort).

AFFORDABLE ACCOMMODATIONS There are lodging options for groups of all sizes, from condos, chalets, and private homes, to quaint inns & lodges, with many priced at under $100 a night. After an exciting day of exploring the area, guests can re-group by a crackling fire. Beech Mountain Vacation Rentals/Pinnacle Inn is a year-round resort property with suites and one and


REASONABLY PRICED RESTAURANT OPTIONS With dining options ranging from barbecue to pizza, grilled cuisine to Mexican fare, many of Beech Mountain’s restaurants include outdoor and indoor seating options, live music on designated days, extensive menus that cater to even the pickiest of eaters, quick service, and unbeatable ambiance shared amongst locals and visitors. A favorite spot for visitors to head after a day of fun on the mountain is Beech Mountain Brewing Co., one of the

only U.S. breweries owned and operated by a ski area, for a sip or tasting of the Brewery’s beers on tap. Resort guests can chill out at the Beech Mountain Resort’s one-of-a-kind facility, 5506ʹ, Skybar. Skiers can indulge in the venue’s various delicious snack and drink options while perched atop the slopes, overlooking massive views into five states at once. Beech Mountain is the ultimate destination for a low-cost mountain getaway this winter, where visitors can still enjoy all the same amenities and adventure as you can in more expensive ski towns. For more information on this North Carolina gem, visit: www.beechmtn.com Jennifer Nowicki has more than 25 years of experience in public relations and marketing fields with a special focus on travel and tourism for the past 12 years. Jennifer lives in Duluth, Ga. with her husband and young daughter and is known for her love of travel, wine, kickboxing and dogs (so many dogs). Jennifer is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences Degree.



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Get Cookin’

Delicious Meals

Under Pressure By Kathy Patrick


hen I was a kid, a big pressure cooker was frequently on my mom’s stove. That pot netted us many fabulous meals, but the steaming cooker itself was always a bit scary with that mysterious weight on top, the worrying hiss of escaping heat, and its bulky heft.

Fast forward to my adult years when I attended a personal chef class on pressure cooking. Wow, that gave me a complete culinary change of heart about these versatile kitchen devices! Based on the concept of pressure holding liquid temperatures above the boiling point, today’s cookers are safe, aid in flavor and nutrient retention, are lightweight, and easy to use. Plus, they’re great for a wide

variety of recipes, even some starting as frozen foods. Read your cooker’s instruction manual thoroughly, clean the sealing ring/gasket before and after each use, use recipes specially designed for pressure cookers, and follow suggested cooking times. Enjoy the pressure!

SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS WITH ZITI Serves 6 This one-pot dinner can be on the table in under an hour! Jarred tomato sauce keeps things simple, and a tubular pasta like ziti (or rigatoni) works best. Read the manual for quick release instruction. 1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 lb. hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed 1 onion, finely chopped 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¾ inch pieces 1 25-oz. jar tomato sauce 3½ cups water 1 lb. ziti 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped Salt and pepper Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat oil in the pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stir in sausage, onion, and bell pepper and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until sausage is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, water, and ziti. Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. When the pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure. Remove pot from heat. Quick-release pressure, then carefully remove the lid, allowing steam to escape away from you. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until pasta is tender, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Parmesan.



PRESSURE COOKER SPLIT PEA SOUP Serves 8-10 This low-calorie, low-fat soup is healthy, filling, comfort food. It’s a great make-ahead dish that freezes well. Ham is optional if you prefer a vegan option. 1 lb. dried split peas, soaked overnight 8 cups water 1 lb. ham, boneless, cut into chunks (optional) 1 onion, diced 2 carrot, diced 2 celery stalks, diced 1 garlic clove, minced Salt and pepper to taste Lemon juice to taste, optional Hot pepper sauce to taste, optional

Put peas in a colander, rinse, and pick out any imperfect peas. Add all ingredients to the cooker, making sure the pot is no more than half full. Lock the lid on the cooker and bring to high pressure over medium-high heat. Once at pressure, reduce to medium-low heat and time for 22 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure. Remove from heat, let cooker release steam naturally. Add salt and pepper to taste, stir, and let sit 30-60 minutes. Reheat before serving. Serve with cracked pepper, a drizzle of flavored oil, a splash of sherry, or some fresh herbs.

SPINACH AND MUSHROOM RISOTTO Serves 4 Traditional risotto recipes call for lots of stirring and tending the pot, but this easier, faster, almost handsfree version yields a dish just as creamy and delicious! 2 Tbsp. butter, divided 6 oz. mushrooms, sliced 1 small onion, diced 1 garlic clove, minced 1 Tbsp. olive oil 8 oz. baby spinach, washed, tough stems trimmed 1 cup arborio rice 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock ¼ cup dry vermouth 3 oz. Swiss cheese, grated

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add spinach and sauté until starting to wilt, about 2 minutes. Place spinach in a colander and let drain while cooking risotto. In a pressure cooker, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic, cook until browned and the mushrooms have given up their liquid, about 15 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring until toasted, about 3 minutes. Add chicken stock and vermouth, stir, lock the lid on the cooker, and bring to high pressure over mediumhigh heat. Once the pot reaches pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 8 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure. Remove from heat and let the pressure release naturally. Stir in cheese, spinach, and remaining tablespoon of butter until smooth and creamy.


Kathy Patrick is a personal chef and owner of Meals on Heels. She currently is president of the Georgia chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation, a volunteer organization helping to restore the American chestnut tree to Georgia forests. She is also active in supporting HemlockFest, dedicated to saving North Georgia hemlock trees. For more info please visit www.acf.org/ga/




By Robert Smyth

A Bear in the House


y wife and I recently took two of our children and one of their friends on our anniversary getaway to Gatlinburg. I know what you’re thinking. Why in the Sam Hill did I take kids on my anniversary trip? Well, as they get older, it’s hard to find time to have fun adventures with them like when they were little, so I thought it might be fun to have them along. After


being married a while, finding a whole bunch of meaningful conversation to have with your lovely wife as you stare at each other across the table can be challenging, and the kids are a great diversion. The stuff they come up with boggles the mind sometimes. The drive late Saturday was uneventful, and the lights as we pulled into Pigeon Forge (the Panama City Beach of the mountains) were beautiful. The condo we stayed in, which was loaned to us by some very generous friends, is at the very top of the mountain. The back seat sounded like screams and gasps from a roller coaster with every switchback. The car’s nose would rise, and all we could see was air and trees in the headlights. Once we arrived at the top of the mountain, the condo was a wonderfully cozy little place with incredible views. We got settled in for the night, and I must have been tired from the drive because I was out like a light. The next morning I awoke refreshed with two teenagers and a ten-year-old looking at me very sleepily and not very pleased. I asked them what was wrong. Did they not sleep well? I was informed I snore very loudly, and they thought a bear was in the condo. Well, it is the

Smokies, so that’s not out of the realm of possibility, I exclaimed. I told them that I most certainly do not snore; they must be mistaken. They got back-up from my wife that said I sound like a Rainbow Vacuum, and some mornings she checks to make sure I haven’t inhaled any of the throw pillows. Apparently, at one point, I got so loud, the friend of my daughters said she just went to the bathroom and sat on the floor until it was over. As my wife laughed at me, they informed her she was not much better, and at some point, we began tandem snoring like some sort of twisted dueling banjos. They said it would get quiet, and just about the time they would drift off, we would start back up. We told them without video evidence they must have just been dreaming. We went on to have a lovely day in the mountains, but as we headed back to the condo, I was forbidden to go to bed before everyone else. I was wounded, and after much debate, we all agreed I would stay awake and make sure no bears wandered in again. Of course, I fell asleep on the couch, and that bear evidently got right by me. The next day, we got up to head home with the girls asking to come back but vowing never to sleep anywhere within earshot of me again. Most importantly, we got to have a fun time with our kids, eat good food, and see some beautiful scenery. Oh, and according to my wife, the bear followed us home, but I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him yet. www.nwgeorgialiving.com

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Nick Chubb at Peach State Ford 31

Ad Directory Winter 2021 Alliant Health Care Back Cover Andrea Kelley Photography 20 Booth Western Art Museum 5 Camp Juliette Low 31 Candy Apple Collision 32 Cartersville Downtown Development 13 Coosa Country Club 21 26 Craig McDaniel Commercial Realtor Farrell’s Frame & Design 16 Floyd Medical Center 3 Ford, Gittings & Kane Jewelers 16 Gondola’s Pizza 27 11 Heatherwood Apartments Heritage Automotive Inside Cover, Page 1 Hightower Falls 17 It’s About Time Boutique 7 JZ’s Taste of Georgia 21 Las Palmas 27 Lobrillo’s Vienna Hotdogs 20 Maine Street Coastal Cuisine 27 NW Georgia Living Contest 7 Peach State Ford 31 Pick ‘o Deli 27 Right at Home 20 32

Riverside Automotive Inside Back Cover Southern Creative 20 Spartan Smoothie 31 21 Spencer Family Medicine Terry Simmons State Farm Agent 7 Your Best Choice Insurance Solution 20 Wonderfully Made Healthy & Wellness 26


Profile for Laura  Wood

Northwest Georgia Living Winter 2021  

Northwest Georgia Living Winter 2021

Northwest Georgia Living Winter 2021  

Northwest Georgia Living Winter 2021