Left Coast Loss is Win for Johns Creek

By Joe Duffy

Recently, I attended an informal staff assembly for The Current Hub at Joe’s Pizza, the best damn NY style pizza place within many miles. Accordingly, I gobbled a stromboli on the publisher’s dime. Before the gavel was struck for the official commencement of the meeting of the masterminds, the Big Cheese had stern marching orders for me.

Hub Head Honcho: I have this new restaurant you need to try.
Me (cockily): I’ve probably been.
Hub Head Honcho: No, this one is new. I’m certain you haven’t.
Me (in a defiant tone): Okay, if you say so.
Hub Head Honcho: Trying to remember the name. It’s on Jones Bridge Road by Bonefish…
Me: Oh, Hen Mother Cookhouse. Been a couple of times.
Hub Head Honcho: Son of a nutcracker!

Hen Mother Cookhouse

Personable chef/owner Soraya Khoury was gifted to the neighborhood via Rumi’s Kitchen in Alpharetta. She was enlisted from the Napa Valley region to launch their second location in the booming success story that is Avalon. The actuality that she was head chef at the consensus best Persian restaurant in metropolitan Atlanta is an impressive entry on her resume, but scarcely scratches the surface.

The Johns Creek cafe exemplifies “mom and pop,” just add a serving of sister to the recipe. Chef husband Jesus Loyola joins his bride in the kitchen, while her amiable sibling Sarah takes charge of the front of the house.

The accomplished culinarian earned her chops on the left coast in the Napa Valley, land of sparkling vino and gourmet dining. Among her mentors was eminent chef Richard Reddington at his namesake Redd. Esteemed national website Eater described the Yountville fine dining establishment as, “joining the French Laundry as an elevated dining destination.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the French Laundry, it is a California establishment universally received as high atop the great bucket list restaurants in the country. Having a comparable entry on her curriculum vitae is an impactful accomplishment for the young lady that Johns Creek can now call their own.

However, Khoury said it was chef Melissa Perello at Frances in San Francisco who taught her how to accentuate ingredients with a “gentle touch.” This aptitude evinces itself with Hen Mother’s harvest salad. Yes, you read it right, uOTPia’s most belligerent carnivore is ballyhooing a salad sans any meat or seafood. Furthermore, anything with raisins is on my short list of non-starters. But there are raisins and then there is Soroya’s house-made version.

With shredded kale and cabbage as the main elements, the fruit and vegetable potpourri is perfectly finished with Rome beauty apples. Sometimes known as Red Rome or Gillett’s seedling, said apples are generally considered best as a complementary component rather than devouring solo because the fruit is less tart/sweet than most apple cultivars. They are flawless for this dish in which each item clearly has its own discrete and evident function.
Khoury emphatically expressed that though she has seasonal dishes, she can’t eliminate the harvest salad from the cyclical bill of fare because of its colossal popularity. If it were compulsory for me to be a vegetarian for a day—for say, charity or something—I’m heading here for this.

Not your standard pancakes: At Hen Mother Cookhouse in Johns Creek.

Pancakes may be a simple dish, but Hen Mother prepares it above and beyond the quality of virtually any competitor. Delivered with pure Vermont maple syrup, no need to hide a bottle in your sleeve.

At this breakfast and lunch harbor, the early morning victuals boast some of the thickest French toast and the thinnest pancakes I’ve had in my 23-plus years (give or take a decade… or more). The former is brioche baked in a mini-skillet with seasonal poached fruit and packed with flavor. Pancakes may be a simple dish, but Hen Mother prepares it above and beyond the quality of virtually any competitor. Each of the two referenced breakfast standards is delivered with pure Vermont maple syrup.

My family and I have been on reconnaissance for our numero uno burger since Oak Street Cafe closed about a year ago. Mind you, there are many strong candidates and Khoury’s belongs very much in the discussion. For about a 20-year stretch, thick “gourmet” burgers were all the rage, replaced in the last decade or so by double-patty mania. Hen Mother’s remains in the thicker single-patty corner.

You will never hear me assert anything positive about the Mickey D’s Golden Arches burger, except there is something affirmative to state about their short-lived “hot side hot and cool side cool” fad of putting on the cheese after cooking. Hen Mother does just that with shredded cheddar atop of the high-quality (hopefully you order yours) medium rare ground beef.

Onward to the brunch menu. On New Year’s Eve I internally recap my uppermost meals of 2018 (yeah, that’s how I subsist. Do you take umbrage with that?) which will include many great meals in assorted states. But I will think fondly of the pork belly hash topped with two organic eggs when we’ve said goodbye to the year’s most unforgettable meals. It is my favorite foodstuff so far at HMC.

My wife, youngest son, and I divided the massive cinnamon roll. Upon intaking his first morsel, my son’s eyes lit up and sparkled in a way that only tickets to a marquee baseball game have accomplished before. I’ve never witnessed him so zealously snatch seconds in his 16-years. I will confirm his alacrity was exceedingly justifiable.

The experienced chef Anabelle Parry, (most recently of her own restaurant, Anabelle’s Table) left a rousing review on Hen Mother’s Facebook page. She described yet another bell cow item, the bialys, as the “best around” proclaiming the accompanying gravlax and cream worthy “to swoon over.” I’ll add that the gravlax is incredibly fresh and toothsome.
I will bestow to our readers what the big enchilada imparted to me at the start of this review. I have a new restaurant you are obliged to appraise. Hopefully, you can also rebut that you’ve already been, more than once.  ❍

When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website Offshore Insiders. His bride’s gift site, Duffy Gifts is the place to go for gifts for all occasions from My Thirty One Gifts. 

27 Things to do in December

First we’ll make snow angels for two hours, then we’ll go ice skating!

If there is no snow this year, there’s always Snow Mountain in Stone Mountain and the Magical Winter Village in Alpharetta. As for ice, we’ve got Skate the Station and The Rink at Park Tavern in Atlanta. You can “Skate the Sky” at Ponce City Market, and closer to home, whirl through Avalon on Ice. With the festivities always comes food; Buddy the Elf reminds you to stick to the four basics: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.

If we missed your event, write to us at events@thecurrenthub.com. Read this article in analog form at shops and restaurants around town. The staff at The Current Hub wishes you a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year!

Light The Night

Saturday, December 1 in Alpharetta
The magic of the holiday season glistens at Alpharetta’s annual tree lighting event on Dec. 1 in downtown Alpharetta. The fun starts at 4 p.m. with pre-event festivities including free visits with Santa, falling snow, marshmallow roasting, free children’s crafts, face painting and balloon art. Festival goers can plan to have dinner or enjoy warm beverages from the downtown restaurants and food trucks.
Alpharetta community groups will present festive programs on the large stage which will be filled with great music, exciting performances, and lots of fun for the whole family. At 6:15 p.m., everyone will cheer as the grand 45-foot live spruce tree is lit with 10,000 white lights.
Festivities do not end with the tree lighting. Festival goers can cheer on their favorite team as this year’s SEC Championship game will be broadcasted live on the big screen beginning at 4 p.m. on the Village Green.

Sparkle Sandy Springs

December 1 and through 31 in Sandy Springs
The 2nd Annual Sparkle Sandy Springs is a month-long holiday light and art display the whole family will enjoy. Walk through a wonderland of festively decorated six-foot-tall wooden houses, painted by local businesses, schools and non-profit organizations. The houses, as well as the surrounding area, will be adorned with lights to create a magical, walkable light display. The free event will kick-off December 1 at 6:00 p.m., and the display will remain open to the public through December 31. On the City Green.

Holiday Lights Celebration

December 2 in East Cobb
Friends for the East Cobb Park, along with other local community organizations, will be hosting a tree lighting, featuring musical performances on the park stage. Don’t miss this magical night where the community will gather to celebrating the lighting of our park tree, enjoy holiday music from local performers, and welcome the arrival of Santa on his light-powered sleigh. This holiday event is free for all ages, and Santa will be on-hand after the musical performances to hear each child’s wishes.
Light refreshments will be available for purchase, with all proceeds benefitting future park improvements. Free.

The Nutcracker

Now through December 2 in Sandy Springs
Roswell Dance Theatre is thrilled to present its 30th anniversary production of The Nutcracker, directed by Nancy Tolbert Yilmaz and Mary Lynn Taylor at the Byers Theatre. With 350 performers, this Nutcracker is the largest and oldest in North Fulton. Gorgeous costumes, magical scenery, beloved music and exquisite dancing will delight all who enter.
The cast includes world-class professionals who have danced nationally and internationally and aspiring young professionals from the Roswell Dance Theatre, the performing company of the Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance.
To commemorate the shows, there is an extensive Nutcracker-themed gift boutique to find the perfect souvenir to take home and enjoy.
Byers Theatre at City Springs, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs, 30328. Tickets: $10-$35.

Magical Winter Village

Saturday, Dec. 8
Enjoy a weekend of holiday fun at downtown Alpharetta’s Village Green. The Magical Winter Village will include visits with Santa, strolling holiday characters, musical performances, snow, free children’s crafts, marshmallow roasting, and festive foods. The surrounding stores will stay open, so everyone can get some extra holiday shopping done, then get their gifts wrapped at the complimentary gift-wrapping station.
Festival goers will have the opportunity to give back to the community by donating to the Holiday Food Drive for the North Fulton Community Charities. Bags for non-perishable food donations can be picked up at the Dec. 1 event and brought back on Dec. 8 for a booklet filled with holiday discounts to more than 50 local businesses.
“The lighting of the tree has been a long-standing tradition for downtown Alpharetta and it is so exciting to add an additional event to the holiday season,” said Janet Rodgers, president and CEO of the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This year, residents and visitors have two weekends of holiday fun to look forward to enjoying. The downtown Alpharetta area will be magical with all the holiday activities, lights, snow, shopping and merriment.”
Both events are free. Free parking is available on the street or at the Alpharetta City Hall Parking Deck, 2 Park Plaza. awesomealpharetta.com.

Milton Fire Department Pancake Breakfast with Santa

December 8 in Milton
Fire trucks, Santa and pancakes! If any of these three things interest you, don’t miss the Pancake Breakfast with Santa Claus hosted by the Milton Fire Department on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 8 to 10 a.m. at Fire Station 43, located at 750 Hickory Flat Rd.
This free event will feature fire station tours, pancakes cooked and served by City of Milton fire fighters, and Santa! Unwrapped toys for North Fulton Community Charities’ Santa Shop Toy Drive will be accepted. No reservations are required, and syrup is provided. For more information, contact Courtney Spriggs at 678-242-2533 or courtney.spriggs@cityofmiltonga.us. www.cityofmiltonga.us

Southeastern Railway Museum

December 1, 8, and 15 in Duluth
The Southeastern Railway Museum will celebrate the holiday season with special events. The Duluth Historical Society will host its 4th Annual Festival of Trees at the museum. The event, featuring more than two dozen community-sponsored and decorated trees, will be open during museum operating hours now through Dec 31.
On Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, guests can enjoy breakfast or lunch with Santa during a meet-and-greet that also includes a craft, a hayride and a train ride with Santa.
Breakfast or lunch tickets are $18. Southeastern Railway Museum

The Nutcracker

December 7– 9 in Roswell
After nearly 25 years of the endearing tradition, Babes in Toyland, Atlanta Dance Theatre announces the addition of The Nutcracker, Land of Sweets to its holiday program. This year, the company presents the best of both worlds for audiences; featuring a condensed version of Babes in Toyland, combined with an excerpt of the Land of Sweets from the Nutcracker. This timeless tradition fills the stage with beautiful custom-made and designed costumes, beautiful sets and choreography by Artistic Director Shelley Grames. They’ll be complemented by the high caliber, professional guest artists Jonah Hooper, Nick Hagelin, Lonnie Davis, Robert Chabot, Erick Jackson, Eric Nash, and Katherine Ricardo. At the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest Street, Roswell, Georgia 30075 Atlanta Dance Theatre.

The Nutcracker

December 8 – 24 in Atlanta
The Atlanta Ballet’s first new Nutcracker in 20 years marks a milestone in dance history—with world-class choreography by Yuri Possokhov, awe-inspiring set designs by Tony Award nominee Tom Pye, groundbreaking projection design by Tony Award winner Finn Ross, stunning costume design by Sandra Woodall, and imaginative lighting design by David Finn.
Be among the first to experience the magic of The Nutcracker for The Next Generation at the Fox Theatre! Atlanta Ballet

Elf the Musical

December 7 –16 in Sandy Springs
City Springs Theatre presents Tony Award winner Shuler Hensley and Broadway’s Autumn Hurlbert in Elf the Musical playing at Byers Theatre at The Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.
Based on the beloved holiday film, this hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. Have you seen the movie a dozen times? Then you know the story, but watch it come to life with Georgia native and Tony-award winning Shuler Hensley as Buddy. “I am excited and honored to be a part of City Springs Theatre’s holiday spectacular!” said Hensley. “It is a wonderful show for young and old and will definitely have you claiming that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”
Broadway’s Autumn Hurlbert plays Jovie, the tough-around-the-edges target of Buddy’s complete adoration. Hurlbert is best known for her appearance on MTV’s reality competition series “Legally Blonde: The Musical—The Search for Elle Woods,” which catapulted her to the Broadway company of “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” At the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center’s Byers Theatre. 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs. For tickets and information call 404-477-4365 or CitySpringsTheatre.com.

A Christmas Carol

December 8 – 24 in Marietta
Palmer William Jr., from Tyler Perry’s House of Pain and Love thy Neighbor stars as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at Marietta Theatre in the Square. Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed. This performance will entertain the Whole Family. Come out and see this Christmas classic brought to life by Atlanta’s best local actors and stars. 11 Whitlock Ave NW, Marietta, GA 30064. Marietta Theatre in the Square

Enchanted Woodland Wonders Family Fun Day

December 9 in Roswell

Held Dec. 9, from 2 - 6 p.m., Enchanted Woodland Wonders invites you to find the magic in nature all around you. Get up close and see live reindeer, who have taken a break in their busy holiday schedule to visit. These holiday favorites return to CNC, but only for the first few hours; come early if you want to catch them. As you explore the wooded trails of CNC, you might just come across a fairy house or gnome home. How many can you find? The fairies and gnomes are hidden throughout the forest. After you’re done exploring the trails, be sure to get your face painted and create some winter crafts in the lakeside pavilion. Of course, no winter afternoon is complete without a campfire and some hot chocolate. If you need a little food to keep you going, there will be food trucks to satisfy any hunger.

The Enchanted Woodland Trail exhibit with fairy houses and gnome homes, will run through Feb. 28. Both events are included with general admission and free for CNC members. For these and more events in nature, visit Chattahoochee Nature Center

A Christmas Carol

December 12 – 24 in Atlanta
Celebrate the holidays with the beloved Dickens classic in this Broadway-scale production with beautiful live music and an all-star Atlanta cast. See the Alliance’s 29th annual production of A Christmas Carol at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer Scrooge, an old man well-known for his miserly ways, is visited by ghosts offering him a chance at a better future—his old partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future—who teach him it is never too late to change. 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta Georgia 30339.

Santa’s Missing Mail

December 13 –15 in Roswell
All Hands Productions Presents Santa’s Missing Mail. Ominous Crook and his sidekick, Skellmutt, are two dastardly bad-guys who are out to stop Christmas by stealing Santa Claus’ mail. You’ll meet some panicked elves, a wise-cracking reindeer, a dim-witted superhero and Santa, himself. The audience will also give David’s friend, Fitzgerald, some help in writing a letter to St. Nick. This 40-minute show incorporates moving-mouth hand puppets and is guaranteed to bring a smile. At the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest Street, Roswell, Georgia 30075. Santa’s Missing Mail.


December 15 in Johns Creek
The Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra will continue its 2018-2019 season by celebrating the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with Christmas Gala Holiday Pops on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at the Johns Creek United Methodist Church, 11180 Medlock Bridge Road in Johns Creek. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. for the littlest ticket holders to visit with Santa from 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. A complimentary post-concert reception will follow in the church’s Gathering Room.
This family-friendly concert, conducted by Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra Music Director J. Wayne Baughman, will include holiday favorites that will be enjoyed by both the young and young-at-heart. In the Boston Pops style, this performance will include a variety of seasonal, sacred, and secular music, including “Joy to the World,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Festival Gloria,” “White Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” and much more. Guest artists include soprano Caitlin Hammon Moore, Johns Creek Chorale and Tapestry Women’s Ensemble, both of which are directed by Nathan Frank.
This concert will be a drop site for the 2018 Atlanta Toys for Tots campaign. All ticket holders are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the performance for an Atlanta child in need.
Johns Creek United Methodist Church, 11180 Medlock Bridge Road, Johns Creek GA 30097. Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra

Grand Yuletide Ball

December 15, 22, 23 in Marietta
A royal Christmas experience for kids filled with decadent sweets, tea and juice, a visit from the Prince and Princess of the Grand Yuletide Ball, and a Nutcracker dance performance by the Georgia Metropolitan Dance Theatre’s sugarplum dancers. Tickets include a gift bag of goodies for our young guests. Program runs about 45 minutes. Limited space available. Admission:
$18. Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre 
117 North Park Square, Marietta 770-293-0080 or visit Earl Smith Strand

Joe Gransden’s Big Band: I’ll Be Home For Christmas with Francine Reed

December 17, 2018 in Roswell
Back by popular demand, Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee Francine Reed is ready to get you into the Holiday spirit! Enjoy your favorite Christmas Classics performed by one of today’s top jazz/blues vocalists! Hits like “Let it Snow,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Silver Bells,” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” are sure to be on the program! 8 p.m. at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest Street, Roswell, Georgia 30075. Georgia Ensemble Theater

Trouble in Toyland

December 20 – 22 in Roswell
Lee Bryan “That Puppet Guy” Presents Trouble in Toyland. Oh no! It’s Christmas Eve, but the toys aren’t finished, the elves are on strike, Santa has lost his laugh, and Rudolph has a runny nose! Will we have to cancel Christmas? Of course not! Hilarious holiday hijinks and fun for the whole family. At the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest Street, Roswell, Georgia 30075. Trouble in Toyland

Emmanuel Christmas Cantata

Friday, December 21 in Duluth
The vision of this concert is to bring together individuals and church choirs to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ through song and music in a Christmas Carol Concert. We aim to honor the birth of Christ while helping churches to unite on a musical standpoint, thereby allowing for the reinstallation of hope and the true meaning of Christmas.
The following artists have been carefully chosen to perform at the 5th edition of Emmanuel Cantata: The Chosen Aggregation Choir, Stella Damasus, King David, Abraham Ogunlade, Brooke Alford, Wura Grant, and Monica Hargrave. The Emmanuel Cantata main event is December 21 at the Infinite Energy Theatre, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, GA. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., Concert at 7:00 p.m. Tickets: $69.00 – $119.00.

High Museum Infinity Mirrors

Now through February 17 in Atlanta
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the High Museum of Art has sold out. However, a limited number of tickets (approximately 100) will be available on-site at the Museum each day for walk-up purchase. Those tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be valid for that date only. Those who score tickets will be taken on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through more than 60 years of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s creative genius, focusing on the evolution of her iconic kaleidoscopic environments called Infinity Mirror Rooms. Check out #InfiniteKusama for photos of the rooms.
The exhibition features six of the rooms as well as additional large-scale installations, sculptures, paintings, works on paper, archival photographs and films from the early 1950s through the present. The 89-year-old artist, who is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, is still very active in her Tokyo studio.
This exhibition previously sold out in cities from Washington, D.C., to Toronto to Cleveland. The exhibition’s momentum and excitement has continued as it finally makes its way to the last stop on its multi-city tour at the High Museum of Art.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Now through December 30 in Atlanta
Rudolph soars back into town for this faithful adaptation of the wonderful holiday film that speaks to the misfit in all of us. Based on the beloved 1964 stop-motion animated special, Rudolph and his friends Hermey the Elf, Yukon Cornelius, and the Abominable Snow Monster) take the stage. You won’t want to miss it!
The Center for Puppetry Arts presents a wide variety of family fun, including innovative adaptations of classic stories and dynamic new works by the Center’s company as well as other American and international artists. Advance purchase is highly recommended because performances often sell out.
Mainstage Theater, Center for Puppetry Arts, 1404 Spring St. NW at 18th, Atlanta, GA 30309.

Winter Wonderland at fernbank

Now through January 6 in Atlanta
Prepare to ooh and aah over two floors of twinkling, beautifully decorated trees showcasing celebrations around the world in the enchanting Winter Wonderland exhibition. Twinkling with lights, glimmering with color and shining with a variety of cultural objects, a variety of decorated trees and displays recognize the diversity of celebrations, holidays, traditions and events from around the world. Admission to Winter Wonderland is included with Museum admission and is free for members. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. fernbankmuseum.org

Christmas at Callaway

Now through January 5 in Pine Mountain
Treat your family to a fun tradition that’s filled with holiday cheer! It’s Christmas at Callaway, featuring Fantasy In Lights, one of National Geographic’s Top 10 Light Displays in the world. Come make merry in the Christmas Village, meet holiday characters up close, and ride through the dazzling illuminated forest. Extend the celebration with an overnight stay, enjoy mouthwatering meals or cozy cups of cocoa in our beautiful accommodations, and explore 2,500 acres of stunning natural landscape.
Guests can choose to see the lights in an open-air Jolly Trolley, the most popular option and our recommendation, or drive their personal vehicle. Callaway Resort & Gardens, 17800 US Hwy 27, Pine Mountain, GA 31822, callawaygardens.com.

Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain

Now through January 6 in Stone Mountain
Situated on what is commonly known as the “Laser Lawn” throughout warmer months, Georgia’s largest snow park features several feet of actual snow sculpted into 14 single or double rider lanes, plus four family tube lanes that can now accommodate as many as eight passengers in giant 10-foot tubes. Guests 36 inches and taller can scream their way down the Avalanche Alley family tube ride, while those 42 inches and taller can take on a single tube lane. Little Angels , designed for kids 3 and under, is the perfect place for your little angels to find their snow legs with smaller snow hills and SnoBoggans.
The Snow Zone area is open for younger kids to tube, make the ultimate snowpeople and snow angels, or throw snowballs in a snowball shooting gallery. All guests must have a Snow Mountain ticket to enter Snow Mountain/Snow Zone area. Children under 16 require adult supervision. Please check calendar for dates and hours of operation prior to your visit. 1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, GA 30083. Stone Mountain Park

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights

Now through January 6 in Atlanta
Garden Lights, Holidays Nights brings back its spectacular high-tech display—the world’s largest synchronized curtain of light—when the eighth annual show returns to the Atlanta Botanical Garden now through January 6.
In the “Nature’s Wonders” display, which debuted at last year’s show, guests will be immersed in cutting-edge technology that allows lights suspended from the grand treetops of Storza Woods to be choreographed to music and sound effects.
The symphonic display features a massive stage-like curtain of vertical lights forming a wall of brilliant colors, programmed to music and special sound effects to create illusions of natural phenomena, including Northern Lights, a storm at sea, and a gentle snowfall.
This year brings the debut of the Skylights Lounge in the Skyline Garden. Plus several larger-than-life plant giants from Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time will be awash in holiday glow.
See the Ice Goddess and Tunnel of Light along with the Orchestral Orbs, Radiant Rainforest, Model Trains and other favorites that continue to make the exhibition a must-see holiday tradition.
Garden Lights, Holiday Nights is open nightly from 5 – 11 p.m. atlantbg.org. 1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, 30309. 404-876-5859. Atlanta Botanical Garden

Classic Nashville Christmas

December 22 in Roswell
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…country music style! Jason Petty and Katie Deal bring you the greatest collection of country Christmas songs and the stories behind them. See page 4 of The Current Hub for the back story. If it does not come to your mailbox, pick it up around town at restaurants and shop. Live! in Roswell Shows

Million Dollar Quartet

December 14 through January 12 in Brookhaven
Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET), the professional North Fulton theatre company, will remount its 2017 smash hit, the Tony Award-winning musical, Million Dollar Quartet, at the Conant Performing Arts Center on the campus of Oglethorpe University. Georgia Ensemble Theater. 

On December 4, 1956, history was made when rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest impromptu jam sessions ever. It brings to light the extraordinary story of broken promises, secrets, and the once-in-a-lifetime celebration of four friends that is both poignant and heartwarming. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more.

Speaking with Producing Artistic Director Anita Farley about bringing back this production she said, “This show was loved by our audience and was one of our biggest hits ever. I’m so glad to be bringing this back to our current patrons but also to new ones as we partner with Oglethorpe University for the first time.

10 Favorite Ground Covers for Challenging Spots

Solutions to problem areas where turf grass does not thrive or mowing is not practical.

Green Scene, By Geri Laufer

This month we cover a number of ground covers well-suited to North Metro area landscapes. Select ground cover plants that will adapt readily to your site conditions, including soil type and the amount of sun, slope and drainage. Ground covers prevent erosion, aid in design considerations, soften hardscapes, fill in under trees, and blanket the ground where turf will not grow.

1. The Elephant in the Room
English Ivy is an evergreen, perennial, climbing vine ground for shade that is ubiquitous throughout Atlanta and the Southeast. It is drought-tolerant, great for slopes, evergreen and easy-care, and by far the most popular ground cover. HOWEVER, English Ivy is not well behaved.

English Ivy is included in many invasive exotic lists, although it continues to be sold and marketed as an ornamental plant across the United States. The climbing vine attaches to tree bark, brickwork and other surfaces by root-like structures that exude a glue-like substance to aid in its climb. It is an aggressive thug that threatens all levels of forested and open areas, on the ground, climbing up tree trunks, blocking sunlight, and adding weight that makes trees susceptible to blow-over during storms. New plants grow easily from stem fragments and new growing tips root along the ground.
I’m not recommending it. I think the only case scenario for English Ivy might be a confined area, such as spilling over the edge of a container, rather than being planted in-ground and released to run rampant over the landscape. UGA does not recommend English Ivy on its list of ground covers online.

Ajuga is a low-growing full to partial shade ground cover with beautiful 6-inch spires of flowers in bright lavender blue or white

3. Ajuga or Bugleweed
This low-growing (only about an inch) ground cover for full to partial shade is in the mint family. Ajuga spreads via horizontal rhizomes called stolons that grow outward from the main plant and create happy colonies of plants. Beautiful 6-inch spires of flowers in bright lavender blue or white add impact in spring. Try some of the many varieties including Genevensis, Caitlin’s Giant, Purple Brocade, Black Scallop, Burgundy Glow (green, white and pink), Chocolate Chip, Dixie Chip, Golden Glow or Silver Beauty to name a few to investigate.

4. Monkey Grass, Border Grass or Lilyturf and Mondo Grass
If ever there was a drought-tolerant, carefree ground cover, it would be Liriope, commonly known as Monkey grass. There are spreading and clumping types with dark green, grass-like, evergreen leaves about 10 inches tall, varieties lined with yellow or white variegation, and a dwarf, 4-inch version called Mondo Grass. They are not actually “grasses” but in the asparagus family. In summer, lavender or white flower spikes reminiscent of Grape Hyacinths reach 12-inches. Liriope spreads at a moderate rate and accommodates either full sun or partial shade, while Ophiogopogon or Mondo Grass is the dwarf version and grows more slowly.

epidemium shady ground cover flowering5. Epimedium, Barronwort, Fairy Wings, Bishops Hat
An elite ground cover, Epimedium tolerates dry shade, a problem situation in many landscapes. It produces delightful, colorful leaves year round and small, spurred flowers dancing on wiry stems. Leaves have colorful veins and bronze tints and stay on the plants all winter, while spring flowers range from raspberry to white to yellow. Cut off the leaves in March and mulch with compost, woods soil or leaf mold. There are specialty nurseries such as Garden Vision Epimediums that specialize in these perennials.

6. Ginger: Native, European and Asian
Deer-resistant, southeastern native Ginger or “Little Brown Jugs” is a delightful 4-inch ground cover with soft, heart-shaped green leaves and small brown flowers nestled at ground level. Its European cousin has shiny, leathery green heart-shaped leaves. But the most beautiful of the three is the Asian Splendid Ginger with leathery, arrow-shaped leaves marked in silver (like “Naugahyde splashed with metallic paint”). Try the Gingers in full to partial shade and a rich, woodsy soil.

7. Ferns
Landscaping with ferns is a great solution for tough areas. I’m partial to Southern Shield Fern for sun although it is not evergreen. Autumn Fern for partial shade areas and Tassel Fern for Shade are two other favorites and these last two are evergreen. Holly Fern is another good evergreen, but needs more care to establish. Mariana Maiden Fern (photo at top of page) is another favorite winter hardy fern. It is also heat tolerant and deer resistant.

8. Creeping Junipers
Got a hot, dry corner or slope? Blue Rug-type Junipers provide a long-term solution to hot, dry, sunny areas and are long-lived once they are established. Dense, steely-bluegreen scale leaves turn purple in winter. UGA recommends Shore, Sargent, Andorra and several other named cultivars of Juniperus horizontalis or J. squmata.

9. Creeping Gardenia
Another low-growing, spreading woody shrub, Gardenia augusta ‘Radicans’ is slow-growing and fine-leaved for sun to semi-shade. Starry flowers have a heady fragrance you will enjoy throughout the landscape. Creeping Gardenia is perfect for a protected position since it sometimes winter burns if exposed to strong winds and cold.

10. Angelina Sedum or Stonecrop.
This is an easy-grow, evergold perennial for hot, dry areas of the landscape, Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ needs full sun in a well-drained soil with a neutral soil pH. Angelina stonecrop brightly colored with golden foliage and is deer- and rabbit-resistant and drought-tolerant once established.

Have I omitted your favorite ground cover? What about thyme, or candytuft, daylilies or forget-me-nots? Let me hear about your best ground covers. ❍

Geri Laufer lives in Atlanta, where she, graphic designer husband David, and English Coonhound Lily are working on designing and installing a never-finished landscape. You can reach her at Geri Laufer

A Financial Checklist for the Holidays

By Robert Fezza and Steve Siders

The year is quickly coming to a close, and if you’re like us, you are in the holiday planning mood: making your list and checking it twice; gonna find out who’s naughty and nice… wait a second, that’s Santa’s list. While this is a fun time of year, it’s also a good time to look at another type of list—a checklist to make sure your financial house is to wrap-up 2018.
To help you navigate and prioritize year-end tasks, we’ve made it easy, by compiling a checklist of things to consider:

◗ Do you have a balance in your Flexible Spending Account? Be sure to use the funds by year-end, so you don’t forfeit your money, unless your plan allows a $500 carryover.

◗ Have you met your annual medical insurance deductible? Schedule last-minute medical appointments and/or procedures to minimize your out of pocket expense.

◗ Are you employed? Maximize company retirement plan contributions—increase the percent contribution into your company 401k plan these last two pay periods.

◗ Tax laws are different for 2018. Have you had any major events in your life this year? Be sure to talk with your tax professional for personalized advice to help lower your tax bill.

◗ Do you have an individual or jointly owned investment account? Consider selling some underperforming positions to offset any realized gains you may already have for the year.

◗ Are you planning to pay for a child’s college expenses? Open an account and/or contribute to an existing GA Path2College 529 Plan to take advantage of state-income-tax benefits. And in case you weren’t aware, distributions of up to $10,000 per year from 529 accounts are now also tax-free for K-12 education expenses in addition to college.

◗ Have you Inherited an IRA or Qualified Plan? required minimum distributions (RMDs) are the responsibility of the beneficiary, and you should take any required distributions before December 31, 2018. Any shortfall is subject to a 50% penalty.

◗ If you turned 70½ years old (or older) this year, be sure to take your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from any IRA or Qualified Plan. IRS rules require this by December 31 annually with any shortfall subject to a 50% penalty.

Remember, the greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones is a responsible and well-thought-out financial plan. If you’ve been putting it off, the new year is the perfect time to act. If you want personalized attention to help guide you, call an experienced, reputable financial advisor that emphasizes financial planning and help yourself make 2019 a better year than you thought possible! ❍
Life is a journey, navigate it wisely.

Robert Fezza, CFP® and Steve Siders, CFP® own Odyssey Personal Financial Advisors, 500 Sun Valley Drive, Suite A-6, Roswell, GA. Their firm specializes in working with people who are serious about making progress toward financial goals. Odyssey manages portfolios greater than $250,000. 770-992-4444, www.odysseypfa.com. Securities offered through Cetera Financial Specialists LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.

Young patients have a voice

Patient and Family Advisory Council diversifies

A new face is bringing more energy to WellStar North Fulton Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

Her name is Katie McCroskey, she is 16 years old and has been working hard on different projects to help the council fulfill its mission to advise the hospital on matters that impact patient care and improve patient experience.

Katie joined the group earlier this year after completing a rigorous vetting process. She was invited to be the voice of younger patients who didn’t have representation before.

“I’ve been very interested in healthcare and after having two surgeries in North Fulton I fell in love with the hospital. I wanted to work here,” said Katie, who was a patient at WellStar North Fulton.

This past summer Katie participated on the Student Quality and Organizing Leadership Academy from the Institute of Healthcare Improvement in Boston. During the program she learned about improving the health and health care of her local community and what other organizations are doing around the world. She also worked on a project focused in the opioid epidemic in the North Fulton area.

“We’ve seen many overdoses in local schools so with my project I want to help regulate Narcan (a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose) in school clinics,” explained Katie, who is implementing her project with the support of PFAC members and hospital leaders.

Even though she is busy with her role with the PFAC, school work and other activities, she says she wouldn’t change it for anything. “I’m so appreciative of this opportunity. From the moment I started I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown so much. This is 100 percent more than what I expected,” she said. ❍

WellStar North Fulton Hospital launched the PFAC more than four years ago, with the goal of improving the patient experience. The group is composed of former patients, families and staff members. Working with the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA), WellStar North Fulton leaders developed a charter and a formal plan for the PFAC, as well as stringent guidelines for selection of PFAC members.

The value in having a PFAC program is that its members provide non-biased input from different perspectives, which may help identify opportunities for improvement, and in turn, lead to better clinical outcomes and an improved patient experience.

The PFAC was instrumental in the construction of the new hospital chapel and has been active in different hospital activities like safety fairs and physician training.

WellStar North Fulton Hospital opens new cath lab

Specialized cardiac care is available close to home

WellStar North Fulton Hospital has opened its new cardiac catheterization lab where patients can receive specialized cardiac care without leaving the North Fulton area.

A catheterization lab or cath lab is an examination room where doctors perform minimally invasive tests and procedures to diagnose and treat cardiovascular disease.

WellStar North Fulton’s new facility includes two cath labs, private waiting rooms for families and state of the art technology.

“When a heart attack occurs there’s a small window to clear those blockages. We have the team and the technology to get this done as quickly as possible without having to transfer the patient to another facility,” said Jeffery Penton, director of cardiovascular services at WellStar North Fulton Hospital.

The new cath lab also allows physicians to perform electrophysiology procedures to treat abnormal heartbeats.
Equipment at the cath lab has been updated to offer a procedure known as cardiac swing. “For our patients, this means less exposure to radiation from the x-ray equipment. It reduces the number of images taken during a diagnostic catheterization from eight to two shots,” explained Penton.

Technology for cardiac care
WellStar North Fulton Hospital is now offering robotic-assisted percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), becoming the first hospital in metro Atlanta to offer the technology and one of only fifty sites worldwide.

Procedures are performed by interventional cardiologists using the Corindus Vascular Robotics CorPath GRX system. The CorPath GRX is the first and only FDA approved medical device to bring robotic-assisted precision to coronary interventions.

Coronary artery disease (CAD), characterized by plaque buildup that restricts blood flow in the coronary arteries, is a widespread and life-threatening condition. It is the most common form of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in America.

Traditionally, PCI is performed as a minimally-invasive treatment for severe CAD. In this procedure, a balloon is used to physically open an artery blockage and help improve blood flow. The new equipment at WellStar North Fulton improves on traditional PCI by increasing precision of stent and balloon placement, while also reducing radiation exposure.

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with a WellStar Medical Group cardiologist in your area, please call 770-956-STAR (7827). ❍

Holiday Gift Guide to Shopping in Town

By Tara Gary, photos by Alex Maslarov

As if my job couldn’t get any better? I spend several hours a day visiting businesses and forming new relations with our neighbors and communities. I sit at Joe’s Pizza enjoying the house stromboli and local craft beer with my boss. Now he’s asked me to go shopping? The nerve of some people!

I know, I know, you haven’t even had your Thanksgiving meal yet and thinking about the idea of holiday shopping can be overwhelming and tedious. Well, I am about to make it very simple for you. I’ve compiled a gift guide of items from a variety of my favorite locally owned shops.
Once this time of year rocurrent hub jingle bell bottle openers piper lillieslls around your inbox gets inundated with invitations to events you may or may not be looking forward to attending. When you receive an invitation to such a gathering, as per Southern protocol, although not everyone will agree, you should arrive with a hostess gift. The perfect store to find hostess gifts is Piper Lillies in Johns Creek. They have “a gift for everyone… for every occasion.” It’s even written on their business card. Piper Lillies is full of those whimsical gifts perfect for administrators, teachers, and anyone you may want to acknowledge during the holidays.

I found these super adorable jingle bell bottle openers. The tag reads “get your jingle on.” Attach one to the top of a gift bag with your beverage of choice and voilà, you’re finished! They are about the size of a tennis ball and come in gold, silver, or a multiple cluster. $11.99 each
If you need to bring an appetizer to a gathering, just pick up some of these San Saba River Pecan Co. Preserves. I chose the Cranberry Chili Pecan and the Jalapeno Peach & Pecan preserves, sweet with a kick. I bet these would be amazing served over various cheeses with crackers. $5.99 for the 5oz. jar

These linen hand towels are a tastefully festive gift for the person who has everything. There is a large selection of patterns and themes at the store. I love that the Hanukkah towels are in these beautiful earth tones that would match any décor. $13.99-$14.99 each.
The extremely helpful sales associates led me to this candle. One of the most popular items and now I know why. After removing the wrapping the aroma of the candle completely embraced my senses into the spirit of Christmas. They come in a variety of these celebratory wreaths that measure about 5” in diameter. The scent of this one is Siberian Fir and smells like a fresh cut Christmas tree. $13.99 each. Piper Lillies gift shoppe is located at 11705 Jones Bridge Road in Johns Creek, GA 30009. Phone 678-867-0033. Piper Lillies

Steel & Cotton Retro pencil holderHave you been to Steel & Cotton yet? It is one of my absolute favorite shops. They have so many unique items to salivate over. Yes I salivate as I wander through that shop dreaming of a home large enough to accommodate everything there that I would love to purchase. From gifts for the home to furniture and light fixtures, they carry a little bit of everything. If you like the industrial farmhouse look, you will definitely love this shop. Not only do they have gifts for the home but they carry a wide variety of gifts for babies, children and teens.
This is one of my favorite items on this list. This clever aluminum and brass pencil holder has a super retro appeal. It really has an authentic look and feel to it. Steel and Cotton carries this unique line of whimsical nostalgic objects. Microphone Aluminum Pencil Holder $65.00.

Need a gift for someone who’s constantly and fashionably on the run? This 30oz. copper water bottle is not only practical but it also makes a statement. One version comes with the word “LOVE” imprinted on it, $52.00, or you can choose the simpler and classic version with no imprint for $48.00.

Steel & Cotton carries a sweet assortment of baby and children’s gifts. How adorable is this outfit?! For a brief moment, it makes me want to have another child, or maybe I’ll just wait for a grandchild. Either way, “the snuggle is real!” This made of organic textiles duo is touchable soft and I love the tiny wooden buttons on the sleeves. Baby-friendly and earth-friendly, made by Oliver and Rain. $20 for the top and $22 for the star print pant.

These coconut exfoliating sugar cubes will be going home with me. If you know someone who enjoys a hot bath like I do, these are the perfect gift. Nothing is better than soaking the day away and adding this to your bath or shower will help nourish that dry skin we tend to get when the weather turns. $26 for a 16oz jar.

Speaking of nourishing your skin… I found these Sweeteepie Facial polishes (page 26) in Cucumber Fresh and Juicy Pomegranate varieties. They feel and smell amazing! What I really love about these products is that they are made in Roswell! The 4 oz. container is $13.50 and the 8oz. container is $27.

Want to give a gift that will coax a child to bathe? These creative Amaze Balls were created by two teenage girls and are handmade in the USA. Once these bath bombs dissolve in water they reveal a toy surprise suitable for any gender. Genius! Amaze Balls 16oz. container is $28.00
Steel & Cotton is located at 1116 Canton Street in Roswell, GA 30075. Phone 678-404-8989. Steel & Cotton

Bed|Stu bag. The Current HubOne of my interior decorator friends highly recommended me paying a visit to 13 Hub Lane. I am so glad I did. This store is a decorator’s dream! If you are design-challenged you can rely on any of the sales associates who are all design consultants. The store has a unique mix of home décor, furniture, gifts, jewelry, clothing, and even baby items.

I was immediately drawn to the contrasting stitch detail on a full grain leather Bed|Stu handbag. This bag is the perfect accessory to complete a casual yet sophisticated look. You just can’t go wrong with it. In Teak Driftwood Bone Glove (no I can’t take credit for the name of the color written on the tag) it will complement nearly every casual outfit and only get better with age. Bed|stu Barra Handbag $269.00
Business or casual, I have found the belt that will never go out of style. Handmade in the Netherlands from soft Italian leather, this 2” wide belt (page 29) is sure to please. The oval buckle adds a feminine touch. Amsterdam Heritage Double Side Wide Belt in Camel $95.00

I love a simple piece of jewelry that can be worn with my everyday casual outfits and I definitely found one. This handcrafted rigid silver bracelet is Boho chic for a woman who loves simplicity but stands out for having great taste. UNO de 50 Silver Bracelet $145.00
13 Hub Lane has four different locations. The only location in Georgia is in Roswell Marketplace 10800 Alpharetta Hwy. Suite 402 Roswell, GA 30075. Phone 770-802-5740. 13 Hub Lane

For the man in your life, I highly suggest stopping by Clothes Horse Men’s Apparel & Gifts which was voted The Best Men’s Clothing Store in North Atlanta 2017. Charleen, along with her husband John, have truly created an unparalleled men’s shop. Don’t be fooled by the size of this storefront. From the street it looks very small but once you enter you will discover that the store continues like a maze and eventually you may be able to take in all of the merchandise cleverly displayed on industrial hooks and furniture. The clothes are high quality, durable, yet super soft. They also have a great selection of men’s gifts ranging from watches, sunglasses, belts, and accessories to overnight and weekender bags. Did I mention that the shop smells great? It smells like what I imagine Ryan Reynolds would smell like.

Charleen helped me assemble a casual Fall/Winter ensemble. I was especially pleased with a plaid shirt that is made by Madison Creek Outfitters headquartered here in Georgia. A plaid Garnet & Pine button down screams to be worn by a masculine outdoor enthusiast or even the guy next door grabbing a beer and watching a game. Madison Creek Outfitters Button Down Shirt $99.50.

We paired the shirt with khakis of course, but not just any khakis, johnnie-O Khakis. These durable yet comfortable pants make you look like you went the extra mile to look good. johnnie-O pants $125.00. To top it all off, I couldn’t resist this Mountain Khakis plush button-down. I wanted to cuddle with it so I can only imagine wanting to melt into the man’s arms who’s wearing it. Mountain Khakis Button-Down $84.95.

To complete the look for the man who may be spending the weekend road- tripping we selected this canvas with leather trim bag. Made by United Blue, a company that removes one pound of trash from our oceans and waterways for every product sold, makes this bag even more appealing as if you needed another reason to love it. United Blue Weekender Bag $168.00. Clothes Horse is located at 28 Milton Avenue Alpharetta, GA 30009. Phone 770-905-6089. Clothes Horse Men’s Apparel & Gifts

Now that I’ve assembled the perfect men’s casual outfit I’ll share my favorite men’s boot source… Red Wing Shoes. Since 1905, Red Wing has been producing their high quality leather boots which were originally intended to meet the needs for those in specific occupations. Today the shoes and boots still meet the high standards of those made over 100 years ago, but the modern versions are really good looking boots. Part of the Heritage Collection, there is no doubt that they will last forever with a little TLC every now and then. The helpful sales associates at the Current Hub Tap & SIx 64 oz. Growler gift for beer lovers. Mansell location in Roswell will help you select the perfect style and fit and they will also be happy to help with preventative maintenance. Men’s Iron Ranger Boot $319.99. Woman’s Clara Boot $359.99. Red Wing Shoes is located at 875 Mansell Rd Ste B1, Roswell, Georgia 30076. Phone (770) 558-4400. Red Wing Shoes

If you are planning to find a gift for me personally, or the craft beer lover, look no further than Oak Street in Roswell. Tap & 6 could possibly be a second home for me. With 40 continuously rotating beers on tap and 200+ singles, ciders, and craft sodas to choose from you will definitely find something, if not everything, to like. Currently, my favorite Fall beer is #38, a chocolate pumpkin porter called Gourd Vibrations by Gate City. You can fill a 32oz growler for $12, or a 64oz. growler of Gourd Vibrations for $24. I asked Ethan, the General Manager, to assist me for a suggestion of available tastes in December. He suggested and I couldn’t agree more, Hardywood Park Craft Breweries Gingerbread Stout which is spot on for the perfect craft beer lover’s holiday gift. No explanation needed here. It tastes just like it sounds. Intriguing flavors of ginger, cinnamon, milk chocolate, vanilla, and a hint of honey leave your taste buds longing for more. So when you’re headed to that holiday party or to my front door, please remember the craft beer. 64oz Growler of Gourd Vibrations $24.00. Tap & Six at 23 Oak St, Roswell, GA 30075. Phone 678-878-3038. Tap & Six

Mitch's Meats & Fish has homemade grillin' sauces, hot sauce, and ketchup.With that beer, you’ll need something to munch on. If you have a grill lover, want to-be-chef, or an amateur cook on your list, stop by Mitch’s Meats & Fish to grab the perfect gift. Mitch has his own array of sauces, spices, and seasonings sure to make any meal a hit. One of the best things about this place is the personal attention Mitch pays to each of his customers. I learn something every time I visit Mitch and watch him carefully instruct each customer how best to season and cook the meat he has just hand selected and cut for them. Locally owned by Mitch Manoloff, this butcher shop is the place for fine quality—everything from prime steaks to the freshest fish from all over the world. I almost forgot…the soups. You must, must try his homemade soups! Chunky spoonfuls of tender meat drowning in the best soup I have ever had. He sells out daily so take my advice and be there early. Mitch’s Meats & Fish is located at 30 E. Crossville Rd, Ste 160, Roswell, GA 30075. Phone 678-878-2922. Hot Spicy Peanuts $7.99, Ketchup $7.99. Hot Sauce $5.99, Grilling Sauce $10.99. Mitch’s Meats & Fish

If you’re looking for rare or unique wine or beer, Pinkies Up is the place for you. Pinkies Up has 22 beers on draft. These are no ordinary beers. Every time I stop by the store they have something new on tap. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they will do their best to find it for you. The owners, Melissa and Matthew have poured their hearts and soul into this local hangout/tasting room. I have yet to meet anyone more educated on rare wines than Melissa. Their tagline is “Simplifying Sophistication” and their goal is to make the process of purchasing beer and wine as simple and enjoyable as possible. On my last visit, Melissa introduced me to gifts from Babylonstoren’s winery in South Africa. Only 12 bottles of Sprankel Méthode Cap Classique 2012 were released to Georgia and guess where you can purchase them? The wine, made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, will maintain a refined finish and freshness for years to come. Pair this wine with the Babel cookbook which pays homage to Babylonstoren and the Babel restaurant. This is an absolutely beautiful cookbook for the wine enthusiast on your list. Babylonstoren Sprankel Method Cap Classique 2012, $65.00. Babel Cookbook $50.00, Babylonstoren Olive Oil 8oz. $12.99. Babylonstoren Honeybush or Rooibos Tea 4oz. $8.99. Pinkies Up is located at 30 East Crossville Rd, Suite 180 Roswell, GA 30075. Phone 770-676-7101. Pinkies Up

Do you have a furry, fluffy friend on your list? If so, JC Pet Shoppe, locally owned and operated by Carol Starke, is the shop that truly cares about the natural wellbeing of your cat or dog. Carol was quick to inform me of her emphasis of natural pure ingredients and remedies. She has a vast knowledge as well as a wide variety of gifts and items sure to please any four legged recipient. I found this great looking 6ft. durable nylon and leather leash made in the U.S.A. If you need an unusual gift for the dog lover pick up this crafty and industrial aluminum paw print leash holder. It’s useful and thoughtful. Let’s not forget our feline friends. What cat doesn’t like a furry mouse that imitates mouse noises when touched? I especially found this cat food bowl amusing with its three dimensional mice cleverly placed in and around the bowl. 6ft. Black Dog Leash $17.49, Dog Leash Hanger $13.99. Animated Mouse $7.99, Cat Food Bowl $8.99. JC Pet Shoppe is located at 9925 Haynes Bridge Road John Creek, GA 30022. Phone 770-664-5700. J. C. Pet Shoppe

If you have that certain someone that appreciates antiques and unique items that have lived a former life and can almost tell a story about themselves take some time and wander through the aisles of endless possibilities at Scott Antique Market. You can find everything from collectors’ items to useful things such as clothing and linens, often at prices lower in price and better in quality than new ones.
Scott Antique Markets are located at 3650 and 3850 (both North and South buildings) Jonesboro Road, Atlanta, GA 30354. Phone 740-569-2800. Scott Antique Market Aquamarine 45CT gemstone ring with diamonds, 1940s, $14,000. Boy Scout drums and patriotic children, approximately 1910s to 1930s. $100 each. Vintage 1960s International Harvester diecast tractor with rubber tires, $30-40.

To see the full gift guide with photos, view pages 26 to 30 of  The Current Hub online, or pick up a copy at dozens of restaurants, shops, and pubs around town.

There are so many great local places to shop this holiday season. I couldn’t list all of them here, but we are working on a linked list at another page, to give you more ideas for shopping in town. Let me know if you have a favorite gift shop, and I’ll be sure to include it. Tara Gary.

Many thanks to all of the shop owners who loaned me these amazing items. I sincerely appreciate your trust and generosity. Ethan, I’m sorry I wrote my name in permanent ink on the growler so you’ll only see it again when I stop by to refill it.

With the exception of the Scott Antique photos, our Gift Guide was photographed by Alex Maslarov in his studio, Alex Pro Photo. The cover photo was shot on location at Steel & Cotton. All photos copyright Alex Maslarov. Email Alex.

Lung Cancer Screening Can Save Your Life

Symptoms of Lung CancerLung cancer is the number one cancer killer in America. With over 155,000 deaths per year, lung cancer kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. Lung cancer can be highly curable when found early, but it has been historically difficult to detect, that is until now.

Research shows that screening using a low-dose CT scan can help detect early lung cancer before clinical signs or symptoms become evident. Early stage cancers can be more easily treated and more frequently cured than later stage cancers.

Screening for lung cancer is not a one-time test, but a process that involves a periodic evaluation of your lungs over time to look for newly emerging cancer. The capability of CT scanners to detect tiny lung nodules and to compare the nodules for changes in size over time is critical to the screening process. WellStar North Fulton Hospital offers cutting-edge technology and premier programs to fight lung cancer, providing patients the best of care from diagnosis to supportive services.

Is screening right for me?

If you have a history of heavy smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke, it could be. The data from a national screening trial found 20% fewer lung cancer deaths among heavy smokers ages 55 to 75 screened with CT scans compared to those screened with chest x-rays. Anyone concerned about lung cancer and considering a screening CT can speak with his or her physician about the risks and benefits. Since the results are new, some physicians may not yet be aware of the benefits of a screening CT exam.

Who is eligible for this screening?

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a network of some of the world’s leading cancer centers, recommends screening for those:

  • 55 and over with a 30 pack year* smoking history and if former smoker, must have quit
  • 50 and over with a 20 pack year smoking history or 20 year exposure to secondhand smoke, plus one of the following additional risk factors:
    1. You have a close blood relative with lung cancer; or
    2. You have a history of pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, cancer (excluding non-melanoma of the skin), or exposure to cancer causing agent.

*A pack year does not mean the number of years you smoked. It is the number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years. For example, 2 packs a day within the past 15 years equals 30 pack years.

I’ve never smoked or quit years ago. Am I at risk for lung cancer?

Former smokers represent 60% of all lung cancer cases. The longer you have stopped smoking, the lower your risk of lung cancer relative to someone who continues to smoke; however, smoking does permanent damage to the lungs, so the increased risk of lung cancer never totally resolves. Yes, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer; however, it is not the only cause.

Statistics show one in five women and one in 12 men diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. Never smokers represent approximately 18% of people diagnosed with lung cancer. Second hand smoke exposure increases your risk. Other risk factors include exposure to cancer causing substances also called “carcinogens.” You may also be at increased risk if a close blood relative has had lung cancer or if you have been diagnosed with a previous cancer or a lung disease known as pulmonary fibrosis or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

In studying the symptoms, it is important to note that many lung cancers do not cause symptoms and are often found during the course of diagnosing another illness.

To learn more about lung cancer screenings or schedule an appointment please call 470-793-4AIR (4247). ❍

A Thanksgiving “Thank You” to America!

By Di Chapman
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I stand agasp on the scales today, mortified by what this Thanksgiving dinner could mean to me in terms of poundage. Still immobilized by my broken foot, I have watched as the pounds have steadily appeared on my hips and tummy. You see, my lack of willpower, when it comes to food, even with all of my food intolerances, is plastering fat on my body. And Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. I have always had the inability to say “no” to candied yams, pumpkin pie and fudge. I can never be trusted to eat just one piece of anything, whether it be flourless chocolate cake, said candied yams, that pumpkin pie, or even peanut butter on a rice cake, a.k.a. particle board.

I’ll come clean, and admit that for all of my kvetching and moaning about my recent weight gain, I probably won’t stop indulging. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I won’t lie. With my sweet tooth and appetite, I’m a goner.

Nonetheless, my admitted lack of self-control is accompanied by many things I do take control over, and one of those is simply being thankful, not just at Thanksgiving, and throughout the holidays, but every day of the year. Although daily bread is, and truthfully always will be, perhaps higher on the list than other things, like you, at the top for me are family (I count pets as family, too), friends, health, and work.

Wanna know another one? Give thanks for America. I think there’s plenty to be thankful for in that huge meal and gathering of friends and family. For Mark and me, we’re thankful for our Roswell community as we eat yearly at a restaurant that cooks up Thanksgiving fixin’s for those of us who choose to forego hours of clean up. Let’s remember to give thanks to America and to voting .

As always, I have stories to tell about my lifetime love affair with voting.

Y’all, if the Chapman children had gained their enfranchisement by 1960, I have no doubt that at age six I would have been on my tiptoes reaching up to pull the levers behind the voting curtain.

I’m fairly certain that the kids in my household were taught about the importance of voting since we were in the crib. Even then, I started “peripheral civic duties” as a youngster, and when I say that, I mean as a child. Mom and Dad were the children of immigrants, and were ardent believers in the importance of voting. Their entire families were as well, with my father, aunts and uncles serving in the military as proud soldiers, WACs, and in country war effort support. Even my immigrant grandparents served in support of the war effort. Ladies, my Icelandic grandmother, who was an illegal alien, even ran guns in North Dakota for America under the darkness of night, so as not to tip off our enemies. For any of you who wondered about my personality, well, I didn’t fall far from the tree. It was inevitable that at family get-togethers the conversation always managed to turn to politics and “God bless America.”

Politics aside, though, they felt strongly about their civic duty to go to the polls, whenever called, at whatever cost. I remember my dad, a traveling salesman, speeding home from business trips to rush to the polls. He never missed a vote. My mom, too, who was a teacher, was usually right in the center of the action, as schools were usually the polling places. She, too, never missed voting day. Consequently, yours truly has always had a fire in the belly for the privilege of voting. I really dig it.

Those were the days when political campaigns started after party conventions, where the choice of a candidate was a white-knuckle process, with unknown outcomes until the state-by-state roll call vote by convention delegates. It was an honor to be among the delegates, and the convention halls buzzed with excitement. We were on the edge of our seats then, because you honestly didn’t know whom your party would choose as the presidential candidate.

I remember how, in our household, we were glued to the black and white TV set during conventions. I loved hearing the state delegates one-by-one boldly pronouncing their pick of candidate, after starting with, “Mr. Chairman, (Where’s the “Madame Chairwoman,” even now, I wonder?) the great state of blah, blah, blah, casts its vote for so and so!” I still love this.

So, enter the presidential races of 1960 and 1964, and you might not be surprised. The Chapman children passed out fliers for the candidates of our parents’ choice door-to-door in our little neighborhood. I knocked on doors as a six- and ten-year-old for presidential candidates. The neighbors were exchanging glances, and commenting to their spouses, “Look, honey, Blair and Donna have their kids on the campaign trail again.”

Voting gave me a freedom to create my own voice. I set out to witness the freedoms of others. My own curiosity took me to marches on 5th Avenue in New York City, and in our Capital. It took me to a Ku Klux Klan rally to observe them. It put me at the center of a violent clash with them, much like what happened in Charlottesville. I volunteered for a presidential campaign in Washington, DC, and experienced the energy created by it. I’ve worked a Congressional race in California, and went door to door once again.

I proudly wear “I voted” stickers, and give high-fives to others who wear the same, one of whom was a tatooed, bearded Harley fan, with a big smile. America can be pretty darned exciting. Get caught up in it, and feel your strength in the voting booth. Then flex your biceps and be a part of something bigger.

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

And to you, dear readers, I give thanks as well. ❍

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, and a branding consultant. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it!

Chicken Little or Rose-Colored Glasses?

By Robert Fezza and Steve Siders

August 21st marked the longest-running S&P 500 rally, followed in mid-September, by the ten-year anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis. Tariffs and trade war threats remain wild cards in the financial deck. A Brexit looms nearer and scarier. Emerging markets struggle while global leaders squabble. And, historically, many of the worst days in the markets have arrived in the fall.

When it comes to market forecasts, will the sky be falling soon, or are we set to soar some more? Here are three compelling reasons to avoid trying to time the market in this manner.

1. Markets (Still) Aren’t Predictable
Before you decide you’d like to stay one step ahead of a market that seems certain to rise, fall or head sideways, consider this quote from The Wall Street Journal personal finance columnist Jason Zweig (8/21/18): “Yes, 2018 is full of uncertainty and teeming with hazards that might make the stock market crash. So was 2017. So were 2016, 2015, 2014 – and every year since stockbrokers first gathered in New York in the early 1790s.” The most dangerous words in finance are, “it’s different this time.”

2. Economists Aren’t Wizards
A day rarely goes by when you can’t find one respected economist suggest we’re headed for a financial fall, while another opines that we’re going to keep going like gangbusters. Which is it this time? Market volatility and gaps in international and financial data make it difficult for economist to accurately forecast economic growth and recessions. Queen Elizabeth II illustrated this point when she asked an economist at the height of the 2008 financial crisis, “Why did nobody notice it?”

3. You Can’t Depend on Your Instincts
Still thinking of trying to sell ahead of a fall? For this, and any other investment “hunch” you may have, your best bet is to assume it’s a bad bet, driven by your behavioral biases instead of rational reasoning. For example, loss aversion can trick you into letting the potential for future market losses frighten you away from the likelihood of long-term returns. Couple that with investors’ oversized bias for seeing predictive patterns, even where none exist, and it’s all too easy to talk yourself right out of any carefully laid plans you’ve established for your wealth.
For these reasons and more, we’re here to advise you: Your financial plan doesn’t eliminate uncertainty. It counters the temptation to succumb to it. As financial author Tim Maurer likes to say, “personal finance is more personal than it is finance.” We couldn’t agree with him more. Life is a journey, navigate it wisely. ❍