Best of the Best: State-Of-The-Porch Address

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It’s time again for the State-of-the-Porch Address. If you remember, last year, at this time, I shared my “Shattered Vision” of porch life amongst the pines. For weeks, pollen count and porch furniture consumed my every waking thought. Every time I glanced at the porch, through pollen-powdered windows, a nervous twitch began, and then sneezing, lots of sneezing. Pollen, mildew, teak, and cushions did not, and will not, geehaw. This spring is no different; my pollen obsession commenced to escalate. I began chattering, incoherently, to my eldest son about the …

Best of the Best: Knock back the mulligrubs

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This week is all about finding creative and inspiring activities to push back the winter doldrums. With the ground saturated, and outdoor activities curtailed, it’s a good time to check out indoor happenings in Madison and the surrounding area. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to take our community history and cultural arts for granted. Assembling this list, I am reminded again of just how much we have to be thankful for. I know, I’ve jumped on this horse before but it bears repeating. We are …

Best of the Best: Counter productive

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I’m done. I’ve had it with myself. My sister refuses to answer my calls. I can’t blame her; she’s had it with me too. This self-inflicted purgatory stems from, one would think, the relatively easy task of finding, and purchasing, kitchen counter stools. Au contraire. Since April 1, 2014, I’ve hunted the elusive seating. I have dragged my poor sister through every possibility with me. Bless her little patient heart, she has viewed more counter stools than seats in Sanford Stadium. That would be somewhere in the vicinity of 92,746 …

Best of the Best: Warm weather survival drinks

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It’s time to initiate warm weather survival drinks. Iced coffees, breakfast smoothies, flavor infused waters, and a refreshing evening cocktail are the ticket to surviving rising seasonal temps. I find it energizing to begin the day on a cool note so let’s get started with tips for icing down coffee- without watering down flavor. Iced Coffee: If you have a favorite coffee roast, and are unable to give up freshly perked flavor, your best bet is to perk a stronger version and add a few ice cubes to the cup. …

Best of the Best: Whale of an Adventure

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By Cathy Best, Columnist There are times in life when you experience something so extraordinary it can’t be described. If you try to articulate the experience to others, the excitement bubble is generally burst with polite nods and, a big Moby-Dick sigh. It happens. You have to be there to witness, if not participate, in the adventure. When I shared what I witnessed, with my husband and sons, and how I witnessed it, I was a bit incredulous when they responded with a resounding “not me” and something just short …

Best of the Best: Shades of Grey Anatomy

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By Cathy Best, Columnist You mean to tell me, there’s not only a book but also a trilogy, and a movie, about 50 shades of grey? In past generations, one would not discuss such private matters, let alone film it. Does she…or doesn’t she? Only your hairdresser knew for sure. And if she so much as hinted- you tinted- she’d be run out of town by Edward scissor-hands. That’s not the case today. The discussion surrounding this Grey trilogy, and movie release, is as mind numbing as pulling individual hairs …

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Best of the best: Honoring our Veterans

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I left you in Americus for two weeks while I crisscrossed the country between Georgia, Wisconsin and Texas. Is it ironic that I bring you home this Veteran’s week through the Andersonville National Historic Site? I think not. Backing up a bit, we’ve buttered biscuits, dined at Daphne Lodge and held a drool-fest at Gatewood. Now, we’re headed north, out of Americus, to Andersonville National Historic Site in Andersonville, Georgia. The somber, although peaceful, site is home to Camp Sumter, Andersonville National Cemetery, and The National POW Museum. Each area, …

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Best of the Best: The road to Americus

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Cathy Best columnist Best of the Best: The road to Americus Although there are several straight shots from Madison to Americus, Georgia, we didn’t take them. Our path resembled that of a broken winged crow. I was not in the driver’s seat when my traveling companion veered west on I-20 to Covington, taking Hwy 36 to Jackson. Highway 16 out of Jackson took us along a, Georgia designated, scenic route, to I-75 South. The 5 p.m. late start had us arriving at the hotel in Cordele around 7:45 p.m. and …

Madison Best of the Best: Preservation worthy Biscuits

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  Last weekend, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation rambled through Plains and Americus. I caught up with the fall ramble, in Americus Sunday morning, just in time for brunch. There’s a lot to share about the day, and I’ll cover it, like butter on a biscuit, in subsequent articles but, right now, I’m cuttin to the chase. Cousins Catering out of Americus laid out, maybe, the most impressive brunch fare I’ve had in a long time, for a large group. Fresh shrimp, sautéed on site, topped off with well-seasoned …

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Best of the Best: A Ferrari magnet

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By: Cathy Best This past week, I finished reading, Delicious, Ruth Reichl’s new novel. Without giving away too much, the novel’s protagonist, Billie, is gob-smacked when she discovers a friend has freezer drawers that pull out from under a platform bed. Were these refrigerated drawers for cooling linens so one could slip into cold sheets? No, they were installed purely for the convenience of eating ice cream in bed without having to traverse stairs after dark. I love this idea as much as I love ice cream. A lot. The …

Best of the Best: ¡Ay Chihuahua!

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By: Cathy Best Is this not the most adorable dog picture ever? My husband, Richard, snapped this shot on the lot where trucks were loading gourmet dog food. He heard incessant barking coming from a big rig cab and inquired about the commotion. The driver swung the door open exposing the Chihuahua stair steps standing in the door-well. This canine crew travels the nation’s highways, with the driver and his wife. Mouse, the littlest one at the end of the line, is in total command of the cab and all …

Best of the Best: The Forgotten Room

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There are rooms in our homes we consciously forget about and ones that slide under the carpet unnoticed. A recent renovation brought hallways to the forefront. Taking you from living room to bedroom, garage to kitchen, foyer to powder room, hallways are used more than any other room in the house. And yet, from a design perspective, they garner little, if any, consideration. Lighting is often marginal and uninteresting; it gets lumped together with closet lighting on builder spec sheets. Blah. Décor is often an after thought instead of a …

Best of the Best: A Novel Idea

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By Cathy Best, Columnist What’s happened to the service industry? Somehow we’ve managed to accept self-service as common practice. It snuck up on us disguised as a novelty. Isn’t it novel to stand in the rain and pump our expensive gas, and novel to be stranded in a dressing room with the wrong size, and novel to set our table at the cafe and serve our selves at the salad bar? It has gotten to such a ridiculous point that people actually pay to cook their own steak at the …

Best of the Best: Spearing Sturgeon on the Ice

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By Cathy Best, Columnist It’s all over but the bragging. The 2014 sturgeon-spearing season, on Lake Winnebago, was set to run from February 8 – 24; it came to an abrupt halt on February 13. Anglers, spearers in this case, depleted the lake of its 2014 DNR pre-set harvest cap 11 days short of season’s end. To understand the scope of these facts one must have a sense of what sturgeon spearing season is all about. It’s ice fishing and it’s a big darn deal. Imagine this: One February morning, …

Best of the Best: Say I Won’t

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By Cathy Best, Columnist It’s lunchtime in Athens when I navigate my Ford Edge into the Varsity parking lot on the corner of Broad and Milledge. My visit to the ten-year-old institution ends a ten-year Varsity chili dog drought, give or take a few years. On this day a detour to a more wholesome lunch spot would take a restraining order and straightjacket. I didn’t greet the morning knowing I needed a chili dog but there I was marching myself up to the counter with a “say I won’t” attitude. …

Best of the Best: Tie One On

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By Cathy Best Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck. She said as much in her book “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.” I get it. You don’t have to be surrounded by all the beautiful people, as Ephron was, to feel bad about your neck. Before her passing in 2012 she had accomplished nine careers. Ephron donned filmmaker, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, playwright, journalist, author, and blogger hats. And still- she felt bad about her neck. She went so far as to …

Best of the Best: GERL Loves horses

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By Cathy Best, Columnist Cowboy, a chestnut colored horse with a sweet disposition, was 15-hands high. I rode him once a week during the three years my father was stationed in El Toro, California at the Marine Corps Air Station. We arrived in California the latter part of my fifth grade year and remained there until my father returned to Vietnam. My mother packed up the four girls and moved back to Texas for the duration of his 13-month tour of duty. Cowboy was the hardest part of leaving California. …

Keep Christmas Simple

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By Cathy Best, Columnist There’s a seismic shift going on in me pertaining to decorating for Christmas. Keep it simple, very simple. In years past I cut enough greenery to decorate my house and Martha Stewart’s, made our door wreath, decorated the tree, we cut as a family, and lovingly placed decorations throughout the house. But now we live in two places. Which household gets the tree and Christmas décor? Both, we don’t want either home to lack the Christmas spirit. Our first year in the little Wisconsin house, Richard …

Best of the Best: These boots used to be made for walking

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By Cathy Best, Columnist Texas covers 268,820 square miles; it’s a big state… big state. My father and younger sister do their dead level best to cover some part of it every time he visits her in San Antonio. Snapping pictures and giggling, they traipse the back roads in search of quirky places. It’s amazing what they discover. On one trip, the quest was to find a shrimp farmer in Imperial, Texas. They missed him by a few years; he had moved on to grow algae. Jaunts around the state …

Best of the Best: Gingerbread and Lemon Sauce

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By Cathy Best, Columnist Thanks to my grandmothers, cool days and bright leaves put me in comfort food mode. There’s something about being in a warm kitchen on a cool evening that makes me happy. It’s no secret I love to cook. Whether it’s comfort food or a new recipe, I’m all about it. I love the planning and execution involved in cooking. Fortunately, I come from good stock (go ahead cooks- call it a pun). At an early age, both grandmothers allowed me in the kitchen. Under their tutelage, …