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

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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!
 
 

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.

The Perfect Southern Brunch at Empire State South

Empire State South

When it comes to dining in the the South, it’s the Northern transplants who are shaping the restaurant scene. Perhaps chefs simply fall in love with the simple art of Southern food because they know of the bounty our land provides. Hugh Acheson knows this love to be true. A group of food bloggers recently gathered for brunch at Acheson’s first Atlanta restaurant, Empire State South (a post Civil War reference for Georgia becoming the cultural and economic hub) to discuss the importance of eating local. He explained that in New York City in order to “eat local” the restaurants ship in from farms six hours away whereas Atlantans eat local comes from farms that are within an hour of the city such as Riverview Farms in Hiawassee, Ga., and Crystal Organics in Newborn, Ga. It’s the amazing gift of a red clay landscape that gives us a plentiful bounty, but it’s up to us Southerners to support our land and its goodness.

“I can’t say enough nice things about the South and where its going.”

Hugh Acheson The Broad Fork

The Broad Fork is on sale now at Amazon

Acheson has truly seen the South transform over the past two decades, but don’t you dare call it The New South in his presence. “I hate that term,” he told our group who gathered to celebrate his new book, The Broad Fork. “Being in Georgia has meant a ton to me, and Atlanta has really come to terms with itself.” A native of Canada, Acheson moved to Atlanta at age 10 and spent two years in the South before moving back to Ottawa. In the 1990s, his wife was accepted to the University of Georgia (#GoDawgs) for her master’s program. He opened his first eatery, 5 & 10, in 2000. He now has three more restaurants in Georgia – The National in Athens, The Florence in Savannah, and of course Empire State South. His his fifth restaurant, Spiller Park – a “kiosk style” coffee shop will open in Atlanta’s new Ponce City Market later this year. Here’s what we had for brunch at Empire State South

French Toast Empire State South

French Toast with marshmallow cream and fresh berries.

Bacon Egg Cheese Biscuit - Empire State South

Bacon, egg & cheese biscuit

Chicken Sausage Biscuit Empire State South

Chicken sausage, egg & cheese biscuit. Y’all, these biscuits were so good I had buttery fingers.

Home Fries Empire State South

Home fries – some of the best I’ve ever had

Georgia Yogurt Parfait Empire State South

Homemade granola and local Georgia yogurt

Tomato Cucumber Salad Empire State South

Tomato & cucumber salad with feta and local greens

Marinated Zucchini Salad - Empire State South

Marinated zucchini with spring onion and wheat berries

“You don’t go to your grave 6 ft. under complaining about the time you spent in the kitchen cooking. That’s the best time you’ll ever have – with your family, cooking from scratch.

Acheson says that dining out in Atlanta has turned into a “palpable” experience contrasting with the glossy and glamorous restaurant monikers which plagued the city during the 1990s. “No one really gave a shit about what was on their plate,” he said while touting the importance of dining local and being a patron of places who are “doing the right thing” from a sustainability perspective.

While he’s made his home in the South, Acheson lives a jet-setter lifestyle and joked about how he achieved his Diamond Medallion status on Delta. Although he’s achieved fame from Top Chef and is known as one of the South’s premier restaurateurs, Acheson says that success is not about becoming a celebrity chef but about operating a business where you’re leading people and playing an integral part of the community, “It’s your responsibility to give back, managing a staff who reveres you, and you being willing to do whatever it takes to deliver for them and your customers.”

It’s pretty cool because Acheson was in New York City filming the segment for Today Show with Carson Daly the Saturday morning before our brunch on Sunday.

Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson and yours truly

Lauren Patrick is a native Southerner, UGA graduate, and the editor of Pretty Southern.com. Y’all can find her writing, wining, dining, and working out in Atlanta. She’s a member of the Atlanta Blogger Network and Atlanta Food Blogger Society. Keep up with her & Pretty Southern on TwitterPinterest, and Instagram. Special thanks to our hosts YP.com and Eating with Erica for inviting us to this event. Remember y’all #MakeEveryDayLocal and #LovetheSouth