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

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If 2014 set any precedent for this year, then 2015 is gonna fly by!”

This is a big year for me. I’m turning 30 this July and it’s kind of freaking me out a bit. My 20s were awesome. I’ve had a blast writing, traveling, got married, bought a house, paid off my debt, and did all the things grown ups are supposed to, right? I even launched this website and with the help of you, dear reader, have kept going strong for four years! But my body has paid the price.

Jamaica Honeymoon

Me on my honeymoon in 2010

When I got to college, the world of late nights drinking, eating Pokey Sticks from Gumby’s, and the 3 a.m. trips to the Pita Pit packed on 20 lbs over four years in Athens. I was able to lose some of that weight after graduation (I dropped 15 lbs my two years out of school) plus I got “wedding skinny” where a gal stresses herself out so badly she drops weight during the last few days before the wedding. After getting married, the weight from “happily ever after” came back. Launching a food blog hasn’t helped for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

I’m not posting the obligatory before and after pictures because I’m not unhappy with the way I look, quite the contrary actually; what I’m not happy with is that I can’t run a mile in under 12 minutes, and I’m stuck at a desk most of my day (the curse of being a writer is you have to keep your butt in a chair). My routine now doesn’t factor in 30 minutes of cardio each day.

The jiggly bits have got to go.

Therefore, over the first six months of 2015, I’m on a quest to lose 15 lbs before my 30th birthday. I’m calling it my #15in15. That’s about 3 lbs a month, and to burn a pound of fat takes roughly 3,500 calories. For all your FitBit users out there, y’all know it’s a lot of steps.

The good news is, I have friends to help me. is going to shift gears a bit. We’ll continue to post our food blogger adventures with a few helpings of fitness. I’m going to get my butt kicked by personal trainers, check out some classes at Cyc and Pink Barre turn, plus try more healthy recipes. I’m also going to try and get at least 15 more minutes of physical activity in every day.

If anyone else out there has fitness resolutions for 2015, please share your story in the comments section below. Let us know your tips, tricks, successes and “opportunities”. We’re all in this together. After all, as my new friend Ulrick Bien-Aime says…

“Your health is your wealth.”

pretty southern Lauren Patrick is a native Southerner, UGA graduate, and the editor of Pretty 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 Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

“You should be kissed often, and by someone who knows how.”

Gone With the Wind Poster #GWTW

In honor of the 75th anniversary of “Gone With the Wind”, our pal and fellow journalist Abby Westcott designed this amazing illustration. This iconic scene is when Rhett Butler sweeps Scarlett O’Hara into an embrace although she’s mourning the death of her first husband, Charles Hamilton. “You should be kissed often, and by someone who knows how,” he tells her, but he doesn’t actually kiss her. No, Scarlett and Rhett don’t actually spark that magic until after she’s gone through her second husband, Frank Kennedy. This is an image that will truly stand the test of time. As much as we love “Gone With the Wind” over here at Pretty Southern, we’ve started a Pinterest board dedicated to all things #GWTW. Thanks to Abby for sharing her talent with us! Here’s a bit more about our designer:

Abby Westcott Abby Westcott is on a quest to design 365 daily illustrations in 2015. Follow her on Twitter @abdub29 using #designaday and #project365. She’s worked for Gannett for the past five years with roles including design editor at USA Today, news designer for Asbury Park Design Studio, and currently a news designer at Gannett’s Louisville Design Studio. You can find her work daily in the Cincinnati Enquirer. You can find her portfolio here. Abby is a Ball State University graduate with a degree in journalism graphics.

Celebrating Colleen Oakley – “Before I Go”

Before I Go book

When I first heard that a journalist from Atlanta published her first novel, “You go girl!” was my first reaction, as I’ve been slacking on finishing my own book. I started reading up on Colleen Oakley and her first novel “Before I Go”, then my pal from UGA’s Grady college — now editor of Eide Magazine, Tova Gelfond — invited me to attend her book party.

The event was hosted by Jenn Hobby, Kirsten Palladino, Tucker Berta, Vikki Locke, Meg Reggie, Lisa Shore and (of course) Eide Magazine. Family, friends, fellow journalists, and new fans gathered at Room & Board to celebrate “Before I Go”. Guests nibbled on JCT Kitchen snacks and sipped cocktails from Candoni Wines and Vixen Vodka.

Grady College girls

Yours truly, Colleen Oakley, and Tova Gelfond

Turns out, Colleen and I are both graduates of UGA’s Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, along with Tova Gelfond and one of the other hosts from the party, Tova Gelfond. It was neat to see so many other writers, editors, and UGA grads come out to celebrate one of our own. Here’s a bit more about “Before I Go”

“Twenty-seven-year-old Daisy already beat breast cancer three years ago. How can this be happening to her again? On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant “Cancerversary” with her husband Jack to celebrate three years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it’s an aggressive stage four diagnosis. She may have as few as four months left to live. Death is a frightening prospect—but not because she’s afraid for herself. She’s terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him. It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife. With a singular determination, Daisy scouts local parks and coffee shops and online dating sites looking for Jack’s perfect match. But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan. As the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy’s forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness—or her own?”

Y’all can keep up with Colleen on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to pick up your copy of “Before I Go” on sale now.


How to Spend 3 Days in New York City

Empire State Building Christmas

Bless my mother’s heart because she’d never been to New York City. This past Christmas, we decided to surprise Momma with a trip to NYC. Since I had a limited amount of vacation days, we decided to maximize this trip as best we could. We left on Friday around lunchtime and came back early Monday afternoon so I could still get a few hours of work done on both Friday and Monday. This wasn’t my first rodeo with The Big Apple so I had a pretty good idea of what all we could accomplish with just a few days in Manhattan. It also helps to have pals/former Southerners in New York – special thanks Katie Cooper, Liz Krebs, and Cody Williams who helped with planning and suggestions! Below is my agenda and tips. This 3 days in NYC agenda works well if you’re planning to do a long weekend in the city, especially for tourists who have never visited. Here’s how to spend three days in New York City.

My Top 14 Moments of 2014

pretty southern girl lauren patrick

Cheers y’all! Thanks for a great 2014!

2014 has been the best year yet for We have so much to be thankful for, especially you – dear reader. Thank you for coming along as we noshed, sipped, and strolled throughout the South. In Atlanta, our home town, the blogosphere continues to grow and we were privileged to join both the Atlanta Blogger Network and Atlanta Food Blogger Society. Our post Words Only Southerners Say reached more than 92,000 people who were looking for Sh%t Southern Women Say and more Southern colloquialisms. We got to travel, meet awesome folks, and are so excited to see what the future has in store.

Here are our top 14 moments of 2014 on

Maple Bacon Donuts at BLT Steak.

Of course, what really knocked our socks off at BLT Steak was the fabulous, savory maple bacon donut.

1. BLT Steak – if y’all follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you know I blog about food…a lot. 2014 was truly special because I got invited to some awesome tastings. But the best of them all was at BLT Steak at the W Atlanta – Downtown. After naming BLT Steak to our Top 10 Atlanta Steakhouses, we were treated to a preview of their new blackboard menu specials. After more than 10 courses with wine pairings, we were both amazed and stuffed. This wasn’t just the best meal I had in 2014, but arguably the best meal I’ve ever had in Atlanta.

Lance Bass Michael Turchin Toast to Marriage

Michael Turchin, me & Lance Bass!

2. Toast to Marriage – On June 16, I joined Lance Bass and his adorable partner Michael Turchin at SKYY Vodka’s Toast to Marriage kickoff. At the W Atlanta – Midtown, more than 500 people turned out to set the world record for the largest linked arms toast. In partnership with Freedom to Marry, the goal was to raise awareness for legalizing marriage in more states and end federal marriage discrimination once and for all. Also, I learned Lance Bass is a Southerner! He’s a Mississippi darling and I loved getting to meet him and his fiancé.

3. A Legendary Dinner – I got to check two more items off my bucket list this year when I met both Vince Dooley and David Greene at Shula’s 347 for Sports Radio 92.9′s legendary dinner. Y’all know I’m a big Georgia Bulldogs fan so this was a pretty special night.

Vince Dooley Legend

Yup. I took a selfie with Vince Dooley.

David Greene Sports Radio 92.9

Yours truly & David Greene

Special thanks to Karen Caravan PR and The Atlanta Food Blogger Society for making this dream come true happen.

Surf & turf Davio's Atlanta

Surf & Turf with N.Y. prime sirloin & seared sea scallops over pea risotto.

4. The Atlanta Food Blogger Society truly rocked my 2014. It all started when Denise Romeo of We Like to Cook reached out to me on Twitter to join this prestigious group of culinary bloggers. My first dinner at Horseradish Grille with the #ATLFBS group would set a precedent for delicious tastings throughout the year. My top tastings include:

5. The Little Black Dress Brunch – hosted by the fabulous Erica Key of Eating with Erica at Saltyard, The Little Black Dress Brunch was an amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We sipped bottomless mimosas over multiple tasting courses with the fabulous bloggers from Belly of the Feast, The Great Dana J, We Like 2 Cook, and Local Italian Plate.

6. “It’s All About The Guest” – Davio’s Northern Italian steakhouse proprietor, Steve DiFillippo, penned a book chronicling his experience as a restaurant entrepreneur called “It’s All About The Guest”. He invited The Atlanta Food Bloggers for a five-course meal and conversation. That night, it truly was all about the guest (check out our food pics here) and we especially enjoyed dining with our pals Eve & Roger from Friday Date Night.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Kevin Rathbun & I at the 2014 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

7. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival – another item I checked off my foodie bucket list this year was attending the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. It was a perfect day of sampling cuisine and cocktails from across the South. My favorite moments included meeting Kevin Rathbun, and learning how to make cocktails in batches with Arianne Fielder and Tyler Hudgens, two Southern gals who are rocking the bartending scene, plus Erica Smith from A Taste of Our City and I got to help polish off all the leftover punch from their class!

8. Taste of Atlanta – since we launched in 2011, we’ve been privileged to partner with Taste of Atlanta to help promote this annual event. Our favorite restaurants from our hometown are represented in this 3-day indulgence. The highlights for us were serving as judges for best booth decor, plus the Friday night kickoff party “Culinary Matrimony”.

9. Tastemade – all of these tastings led to making great connections, including Atlanta’s own media maven Mara Davis. This fall, I was invited to help launch Tastemade Atlanta. The Tastemade app (available to download for free on any smart phone) allows you to film videos of your dining experiences, plus add music and filters for customization. It’s a great way to share your favorite places to eat in your hometown. You can see all my #TastemadeATL videos here, and check out this one from Red Sky Tapas.

Red Sky Tapas and Bar

Lauren Patrick

Much better! Thanks GlowDry!

10. A Flying Circus – we were invited to attend a performance of “Amaluna”, the newest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza at Atlantic Station. This show was incredible! “Amaluna is a tribute to the work and voice of women,” explains Director of Creation Fernand Rainville. “The show is a reflection on balance from a woman’s perspective,“ he adds. We totally agreed, and were delighted to giveaway tickets to a few of our loyal readers (thanks y’all!)

11. GlowDry Makeover – one of the best parts about being a blogger is getting to help promote local business, and there’s no prettier biz in the South than beauty! GlowDry proprietor Paige Perkins offered up a free blowout and makeup application in honor of GlowDry’s 1st anniversary (woo hoo!) Y’all can keep up with GlowDry on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for specials, including discounted blowouts.

Margaret Mitchell Tour

“Margaret Mitchell” and I on the Atlanta Movie Tour

12. Oakland Cemetery – Pretty Southern was invited to join the Oakland Cemetery Ambassadors to help spread the good news and latest happenings at Atlanta’s historic landmark. On our first tour we visited the “graves of the glorious dead” of Bobby Jones, thousands of Confederate soldiers, and many famous Southerners.

13. Meeting Margaret Mitchell – during my tour at Oakland Cemetery, I learned that Margaret Mitchell is still alive and well in Atlanta. Well, sort of. The Atlanta Movie Tour invited me to join their “Gone With the Wind” tour where “Margaret” showed us her old stomping grounds including her house on Peachtree Street and her final resting place in Oakland Cemetery

14. A Southern Journey – this year I did a solo road trip of 1,100 miles across the South through Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia. It was a great way to explore this part of the country I love so much. The South is an enchanting place, quite unlike anything in the world. Accents are sweeter, folks are more willing to strike up a conversation, and even share their life story.

2014 was a year of making new friends, and I owe a few folks shout outs because without y’all I wouldn’t have gotten these amazing opportunities: Allied Integrated Marketing – Marissa Miller, Lee Schroeder, Leslie Hochsztein, Carolyn Sloss; Melissa Libby PR – Alex Kukler; Liz Lapidus PR – Tucker Berta and Kelsey Walker; Kitsy Rose of Kitsy West PR; Karen Caravan; Tara Murphy of 360 Media; Lorrie Dixson of Eskimo Advertising; Debbie & Jody Rosen of The Rosen Group; The Reynolds Group especially Katherine Ames, Andi Hill, Julia Baker, Julia Ott, Erica Hinchman, and all the lovely PR gals; Becca Dorr and The Atlanta Bloggers Network; Denise Romeo & The Atlanta Food Blogger Society.

Last but certainly not least, has an amazing team of contributors including Katy Ruth Camp, Kelli Eidson, Kate Robertson, Angela Sun, Jamie White, and Kevin Patrick. If it wasn’t for y’all, Pretty Southern wouldn’t be possible.

Cheers to 2014! Thanks for a fabulous 365 days, and bless your heart!

pretty southern Lauren Patrick is a native Southerner, UGA graduate, and the editor of Pretty Y’all can find her writing, wining, and dining in Atlanta. She’s a member of the Atlanta Blogger Network and Atlanta Food Blogger Society. Keep up with her & Pretty Southern on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.