Pretty Southern

What does it mean to be a Southerner in the 21st century?

Matt Stafford’s Wedding Video

Matt Stafford Wedding Party

Mrs. Matt Stafford with their groomsmen

Y’all know we’re big Georgia Dawgs fans here at Pretty Southern, so we’re excited to share Matt Stafford’s Wedding Video – filmed by the fabulous Elysium Productions!

Matt Stafford married longtime girlfriend Kelly Hall on April 4, 2015. The wedding ceremony and reception took place at The Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta.

Our top 5 favorite moments from Mr. & Mrs. Matt Stafford’s wedding are:

  1. Kelly’s custom “Mrs. #9″ sneakers
  2. The airbrushed hats and brand new Nike sneakers for all the wedding guests
  3. Varsity food truck for late night wedding bites
  4. Wedding band Party on The Moon definitely rocked the party
  5. All the details and event styling by Toast Events

Here’s an intimate look at Mr. & Mrs. Matt Stafford’s big day in Atlanta.

 

Soundtrack: “Moments Like This” by The Afters // licensed through songfreedom.com // http://toast-events.com // http://novareevents.com/foundry-at-puritan-mill/ // http://www.jacksondurham.com // http://www.partyonthemoon.com/band // http://www.vuephotographyonline.com // http://www.elysiumproductions.com // http://www.sifient.com

Hunter S. Jones – The South’s Self-Publishing Guru

Hunter S. Jones
If y’all haven’t heard of Hunter S. Jones, then check out her insane following on social media with 35,000 followers on Twitter, almost 12,000 likes on Facebook and hundreds of raving reviews on Goodreads. Pretty Southern recently sought out the acclaimed author to learn more about the secrets of her success and how she became the South’s self-publishing guru.

How did you discover your passion for writing?
I’ve always written something. It’s always been the thing I do. Some people play music, sing, dance, act, or paint. I have always been a writer.
 

September_Ends_Hunter

What was the first thing you ever published?
In high school and college, I wrote for the schools papers. After graduating, I wrote for a couple of low budget rock papers in Nashville. It was great! I wrote various music and special interest stories for the Chattanooga newspaper. But, the first time someone sent a check to pay me was following an article I wrote for the Whitfield County, Ga., paper. I wrote a lovely article about the Rev. Howard Finster and Paradise Garden. “Serendipity in the Garden” was the articles name. I had no idea they were going to pay me for the story, so you can imagine how excited I was to receive a check from them. Getting paid for doing what you enjoy is such an incredible experience, isn’t it?

Did you study writing in college?
Yes, I studied creative writing but my emphasis was on English Literature.
 
 

Tell us about your Southern roots. You were born and raised in Tennessee, what brought you to Atlanta?
This is my second residency in Atlanta. The first one was in the early 1990s. It was awesome! I worked as a make-up artist. What fun to be young and around so many creative people. My late mother became ill, and I returned to Tennessee to be with the family. That’s when I entered corporate America. After spending 17 years in sales and marketing with an international corporation, I was downsized. My husband and I decided Atlanta offers more, took a gamble and moved here. We love Atlanta!

How would you define a Southerner in the 21st century?
Great question. There’s so much controversy about this topic right now, isn’t there? To me, it means family and our family’s history. Our farm has been in the family since Tennessee became a state. It gives a person a sense of place, a sense of belonging to something bigger than you. Right now is the greatest time to be a Southerner. Atlanta is the #11 financial power globally. We have opportunities never before offered to our region. It seems that we should stop looking to the past and look toward what the future holds for us. One of my grandfather’s was a coal-miner yet I’ve visited 63 countries around the globe. My husband is British. Life is nothing like it was for our parents and grandparents. Southerners have so many opportunities that haven’t been available before now.

We are the Newest New South and I believe it will be the best one yet.

What was the first book you self-published (September Ends, right)?
September Ends was released in 2013. You are absolutely correct. Thank you for that.
Editor’s note – Hunter’s books also include September Again, September First, September Verses, Fortune Calling, and Tales From a New Amsterdam: Britain.

Fortune_Series_Hunter

The Fortune Series by Hunter S. Jones

You have an amazing following on social media. How did you grow your “tribe”?
Having the blog on ExpatsPost.com helped immensely in getting my name, or brand, recognized. I started writing about unknown bands, or regionally known bands. I’ve worked with Fringe and off-Broadway theatre groups. Both of these added to the ‘Tribe’ as you call it. Really, social media is simply being social, isn’t it? If you are nice to everyone, they will be nice in return. I’ve always accepted friendship offers from anyone. There will always be people who want you to do everything for them, but I find that most people understand that art is a giving thing. The more you give, the more you get.

How did you get started on Goodreads and promote your presence there?
Another great question, Lauren. I do not know the exact answer to this. I opened an account on Goodreads, added all my Facebook and Twitter friends, and next thing you know, I’m at Goodreads friend limit. Goodreads is so complex. I mainly use it to find new books and rarely use it to sale or promote my own books.

Phoenix-Rising

How do you balance your sales work with your writing career?
Work is work and once business is completed, my mind is free to roam. I’m a great researcher, so often work breaks are used for research purposes. I carry a book bag with me at all times which is loaded with the core information I’m researching. My husband is very supportive. He says he can ‘see’ a change when I have connected with a story and he lets me write. How great is that? Although, I have been known to wake up, know the story is ready to be written and announce that I don’t want anyone bothering me until the story is completed.  As my late mom used to say, “Writers aren’t the easiest people to live with.” I love that because it is so true.

Look for PHOENIX RISING, a fictional story of the last hour of Anne Boleyn’s life, now available on Amazon.

 
 

Why I’m Proud to be American in 2015

Red White Blue Country

Yours truly with this awesome dude

This Independence Day is one in which I’m especially proud to be an American. In 2015, we’ve accomplished a lot in that past six months. Here are a few reasons I’m proud to live in the USA this Fourth of July.

Every single American has the right to marry whom he or she chooses. Around this time last year, we partnered with Skyy Vodka’s Freedom to Marry to help raise awareness for marriage equality. I’m so thankful that love won.

Freedom of Speech – there’s no way in hell I would have been able to create Pretty Southern if I lived in Russia or China. In fact, there are some days (or some posts) which I’m kind of surprised I haven’t received a knock on the door for.

Affordable Health Care – disagree with me in the comments section if you so choose, but I am thankful that we have the Exchange. Every U.S. citizen regardless of income or employment status has the right to affordable health insurance.

America is truly the land of the free and home of the brave. There is still much work to be done, but let’s save that for July 6. Enjoy your Fourth of July!
 
 

8 Things I’ll Miss About Living in North Carolina

My family’s roots are in North Carolina. My parents were raised and went to college there, and I was born in a small town in the southeastern part of the state. We moved from North Carolina when I was 5 years old, but my extended family still lives here; my parents and I visit several times a year.

I spent the last year at Elon University, which is about 25 minutes east of Greensboro. Even though I’ve visited North Carolina several times a year for my whole life, living in the area has reminded me of what makes this state so special. Now that I’m moving to Tennessee for my first job out of grad school, I’ve been reflecting on my home state and what I’ll miss about living here. I’m definitely excited to move to a new city, but maybe I’m not quite ready to bid adieu to the great Tar Heel state.

Here are eight top reasons I’ll miss living in North Carolina.

barbecue

Mmmm, Smithfield’s.

1. Barbecue: If you meet anyone from North Carolina and they claim they don’t like barbecue, they’re not telling the truth. Everyone in this state loves barbecue, and everyone has a staunch opinion on what kind of barbecue is superior. Lexington style (more common in western parts of the state) is sweeter and smoky, often topped with a tomato-based sauce. Eastern style is tangy and accompanied by a vinegar-based sauce. I’m a Lexington girl, but I will never say no to some Smithfield’s Chicken & BBQ (which is more Eastern). And down here, “barbecue” is a food, not something you do in the back yard.

Hey Smithfields, can y’all air-drop me some ‘cue once a month or so?

2. Beaches: To me, nothing beats a North Carolina beach. My dad grew up going to Holden Beach on the southern coast, and my parents and I went there in the summers until I was 13. My grandfather then sold his beach house, and unfortunately we haven’t been back. I have the fondest memories of body-boarding in the playful waves, teaching myself to skimboard and hunting for the perfect seashells on the white sand. While I didn’t make it to the beach in the last year, it was nice knowing I was close enough to go if I wanted to.

biscuitville3. Biscuitville: I’m not kidding, y’all. Try one of their hot, delicious pimento cheese and bacon biscuits and tell me it’s not amazing. Watching the bakers knead the dough and cut out biscuits makes your mouth water in a hot second. Nothing beat a bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit with cheese grits on a Saturday morning. Biscuitville over Bojangles, always.

4. Close to Family: This is the closest I’ve lived to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins since my parents and I lived in NC ourselves, way back in the 90s. My mom’s family all live outside of Charlotte, so they’re only about 2 hours from me at Elon. Weekend visits were easy and relaxing. It’s been so nice to be able to see them more often.

5. College (ACC) Basketball: With UNC, NC State, Wake Forest and Duke (barf) all close by, November through March or April (depending on how the seasons finished) are crazy with blue, red and gold. It’s a sin to like more than one North Carolina college team, so you learn to answer accordingly. We’re in the heart of ACC country so during those months there’s a game on my TV every day. I hope the SEC faithfuls in Tennessee won’t mind my ACC fandom. Do I have to learn to sing “Rocky Top” in return?

6. Southern Charm: This goes without saying. We’ll always smile and wave, even if we don’t know you from Adam. I know that’s all over the South, but I do love seeing it around here. North Carolina has so much charm to offer, from its cities to its small towns, from its mountains to its coasts, and everything in between.

7. Weather: Can we say “yes” to having all four seasons? The summers are stunning, if not a bit humid, and the winters are (usually) mild. We get a clear spring and a clear fall, even if they are a bit prolonged. My boots and scarves do get worn! And only some of us lose our minds when it snows…not all of us.

And lastly…

Red & white wines from Stony Mountain Vineyards, Albemarle, NC

Red & white wines from Stony Mountain Vineyards, Albemarle, NC

8. Wine & Beer: I’m not a big beer person, but oh my goodness, North Carolina wine is awesome. Traditional NC wine is made from scuppernong and muscadine grapes, which are sweeter than regular grapes, and twice as delicious. I loved exploring wineries in the Triad and tasting all of their varieties and blends. As for beer, Red Oak is king, followed by Natty Greene’s. Both are brewed fresh in Greensboro, and can be found in every grocery store’s beer aisle in Guilford and Alamance counties. If I could take Red Oak and some scuppernong wine to Tennessee, I totally would. Dearest North Carolina, you’ve always been good to me. This won’t be a goodbye, just a “see you later.” Plus, when my parents’ lake house is done, I’ll be visiting you a lot more often than twice a year.

 

Kate RobertsonKate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern and a Virginia Tech alumna. She also holds an M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon University.

Born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, Kate hopes to further her career as a social media maven and kick-ass writer in the lovely southeast.

Follow Kate on Twitter @kate3robertson and check out her blog, A Thought and a Half.

 
 

Reel Seafood’s Wine Dinner in Woodstock

reelseafood
Reel Seafood, located in the heart of Main Street in Woodstock, is hosting an exclusive wine pairing dinner this Thursday, June 25, starting at 6:30 p.m. Executive Chef & proprietor David Silverman has five courses for the menu, each perfectly paired with a fabulous wine from from the Ferrari-Carano Winery. Here’s what’s on the menu:

1st Course – a Ceviche Martini prepared with Georgia White Shrimp, served with an avocado pozole and a crisp plantain, paired with a crisp 2012 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio.

2nd course – an Heirloom Tomato Burrata Salad with a balsamic reduction, basil oil, and micro greens served with a 2013 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc.

3rd course – Braised Oxtails, served with a root vegetable ragout and a 2012 Ferrari-Carano Merlot.

4th course – the fish course will be a Pancetta Wrapped Halibut with herb garlic gnocchi in a truffle mushroom broth, paired with a 2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley.

5th course – for dessert, the Chef will create a Blood Orange Panna Cotta served with a 2013 Ferrari-Carano Eldorado Noir, also from the famous Russian River Valley.

RSVP Now for Reel Seafood’s Wine Dinner in Woodstock! This exclusive tasting is priced at $75 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Seating is limited, and reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling Reel at 770-627-3006.

Reel is open for Lunch Monday through Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m.; Dinner is served seven days a week until 10 p.m., and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. For information about other upcoming events or reservations, please visit Reel’s website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Reel is located at 8670 Main Street, Woodstock, GA.