Monthly Archives: January 2019

New & Improved

In The Home

The New American Home and The New American Remodel showcase the latest trends in home design and technology

No one can build a new home every year. However, anyone can keep up with the latest trends in home construction and design.

Enter the annual International Builders’ Show, which showcases the newest concepts in home design, construction and remodeling with two houses – The New American Home and The New American Remodel. This year the two homes will make their debut at the show in Las Vegas February 19-21.

They may have a hard act to follow with the two homes that were unveiled at last year’s exhibition in Orlando, Florida. The 2018 New American Home, a Mediterranean-inspired, 6,533-square-foot home in Montverde, Florida, showcased modern design elements in a structure where people still could live in comfort and style. An 80-year-old Orlando house served as The New American Remodel, which blended elements of the original design with new construction.

H is for Home
The modern Tuscan-style NAH featured clean lines, a neutral color palette and Italian flourishes. Built of stone, stucco and wood, the home also featured modern elements such as large windows and a floating interior staircase. The exterior included a Mediterranean pitch roof, deep overhangs and flat-concrete roof tiles.

With an H-shaped floorplan, the home was designed so that whole sections could shrink or expand without losing the plan’s integrity. Pocket doors and retractable glass doors throughout the house allowed spaces to be opened up for large gatherings or closed off for quiet and privacy.

The floorplan also embraced the outdoors, offering views of the swimming pool, spa and nearby lake from nearly every room. Automated and easily operable screens and glass walls protected the indoors from insects and the elements while still giving the feeling of living outdoors.

The core of the house featured an open kitchen and a great room with a covered porch that opened onto the swimming pool patio. These central rooms were surrounded by auxiliary spaces such as a home office, powder room, laundry room, mudroom, guest suite, game room and master suite with its own covered porch.

In the kitchen an eat-in peninsula was part of the main island, and the room was fully open to the dining and great rooms. Folding glass doors made it accessible to the pool area, and a large walk-in pantry was adjacent to the game room.

The master bedroom featured a rustic-looking backdrop to the bed, a stone fireplace and a retractable glass wall that opened onto a side porch. LED lights under the edges of the bed made it appear to float.

Reminiscent of ancient Roman baths, the master bath featured a free-standing tub on a mosaic floor. The glass-enclosed shower offered his-and-hers automated control settings. The bath also included his-and-hers water closets, his-and-hers walk-in closets and separate vanities.

The second story featured a trio of bedrooms, which each had full private baths; a loft with a wet bar and a coffee bar; a powder room and a second laundry room. A media room included double barns doors on one side and a glass wall to the balcony on the other.

The house even had a pair of two-car garages, including one with garage doors on each side so drivers never had to back out.

Tech-Savvy Features
LED backlighting enhanced focal points and added elements of mood lighting. A control room near one of the garages handled all of the automation for the house, which had only two light switches in the entire residence. In addition to automated lighting, the house also included automated shades as well as entertainment, temperature and security systems.

Other technological advances included premium audio, which delivered high audiophile sound quality to every room with reduced cabling and low power consumption; high-performance networking, which provided more power, increased memory and high-speed communication between all devices throughout the home; and user friendly controls, which could control nearly every gadget in the house with voice recognition, web browsing, H.264 streaming video, a built-in camera and an advanced media player.

Remodeling Charm
For last year’s New American Remodel, preserving the home’s 1930s charm, while fast-forwarding to a 21st-century lifestyle, was paramount to the project. The house not only featured renovations, however. A spacious great room, which led to an outdoor living area, and a gallery that connected to the master suite and office, were added to the home.

Subtle design elements throughout the house wove each individual space into a unified work of art. For instance, circular design patterns in the formal dining room were duplicated in other areas such as the front door moldings and the circular front window. Interior doors had a similar three-panel design.

Accented by long sight lines and striking focal points, the remodeled house showcased balance and symmetry. The gallery floor, for instance, featured an interwoven design of tile and hardwood while ceiling beams created a cross pattern that mirrored the tile-and-wood flooring pattern.

A once-cramped kitchen was relocated into an addition that adjoined the great room. The new kitchen featured double islands with ample space to cook, eat and entertain. While a hammered and polished metal hood above the stove created a dramatic focal point in the room, steel casement-style French pantry doors connected the exterior architecture with the interior design.

Designed to resemble a boutique hotel suite, the master bedroom was a relaxing retreat with blue-gray furnishings and accessories. A hand-crafted stained-glass window, featuring design elements from the light fixture, topped the window in the sitting alcove.

In the master bath, the porcelain tile on the floors and shower walls emulated Calacatta marble. Octagonal details on the trey ceiling, plumbing fixtures and cabinet hardware created a complementary geometric motif.

The décor of the remodeled home featured a neutral color palette, accented by elegant furnishings of Prussian blue velvets with splashes of teal and gray-beige tones. Gold-tone metals added warmth while the trim included driftwood finishes.

The outdoor kitchen featured cabinetry that could withstand the elements; low-maintenance, solid quartz countertops; and a chiseled granite backsplash. The versatile, hand-cut, gray-green stone, which was mined from India, was used on all of the walkways, steps, driveway and pool coping and deck.

The exterior was enhanced with new brickwork, restored ironwork and new windows. To maintain the character of the residence, the new additions mimicked the original architecture.

Tradition Meets Technology
Even though the home was built during a time of economic hardship in the nation, the remodel featured a wealth of technological advances and full-home automation that could be controlled by smartphones and tablets.

These features included structured wiring where all network connections were in a central location; closed-circuit television security, which could be operated and monitored through any secured smart device; surround sound; automated lights that could be customized to user preferences and controlled remotely from anywhere in the world; motorized shades to allow the optimum amount of light in any room; high-performance Wi-Fi network that provided communication between all devices throughout the home.

The New American Home and The New American Remodel 2019
The New American Home and The New American Remodel 2019 will be unveiled at the International Builders Show February 19-21 in Las Vegas. At the 36th annual show this year, TNAH and TNAR once again will feature the latest in building trends, products and techniques.

This year’s TNAH, a 9,028-square-foot, one-story house built in nearby Henderson, Nevada, will incorporate a wide variety of contemporary-modern elements into its design. Along with the latest technology, the home will highlight ultimate views and design, optimized energy efficiency and technological advances.

This year’s TNAR, which was built in 1950 near downtown Las Vegas, will showcase the ways that today’s industry products can be integrated in an older home to enhance its technological and energy efficiency.The design criteria for the remodel includes elements that today’s luxury homebuyer wants such as multigenerational living solutions, function and storage, ideas for entertaining and low-maintenance materials.

By Sarah James

It’s a Date


Music lovers can court their sweethearts with musical trips over the rainbow and across the ivories.

Fans of the cinema and of concertos can click their heels together and head to the Miller Theater this month for a pair of performances by Augusta Symphony.

To celebrate with valentines of all ages, music and movie aficionados can watch a screening of The Wizard of Oz on February 14, as the symphony plays the live musical score from the film.

Music Director Dirk Meyer will lead the orchestra in Harold Arlen’s score from the movie, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion make their way to the Emerald City. Ticket prices range from $36 – $100.

On Saturday, February 23, the symphony will perform “Mentors” with Meyer and Alon Goldstein on piano. Goldstein’s artistic vision and innovative programming have made him a favorite with audiences and critics alike throughout the United States, Europe and Israel.

The program will include Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 1, Op. 46; Schumann’s Piano Concerto and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1.

Tickets range from $22 – $67. Beginning an hour before the concert, walk-up tickets for students and military personnel will be available for purchase at the box office for $10. A student is anyone under age 16 or anyone 16 or older with a valid ID.

Both performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Funny Business


Who doesn’t love to laugh? Comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias does, and he is bringing his standup routine to Bell Auditorium on February 28.

Iglesias is one of a handful of comedians who has headlined and sold out Staples Center, Madison Square Garden and Sydney Opera House. In addition to being one of America’s most successful standup comedians, he is one of the most-watched comedians on YouTube with more than 380,000,000 views. Iglesias also has more than 14 million fans on social media.

He recently was featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 40 Comedy Players of 2018 issue alongside comedy giants Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Lorne Michaels.

Currently, he is in production as the star and executive producer of the upcoming multi-cam Netflix comedy series, “Mr. Iglesias” in which he plays a good-natured public high school teacher who works at his alma mater. Premiering this year, the series will include 10 half-hour episodes. He also will star in two standup comedy specials for the network.

Iglesias entertains his audiences with (mostly) clean comedy and noncontroversial material that appeals to people of all ages and all walks of life. So, throw on a Hawaiian shirt – you know he’ll be wearing one – and head out for a healthy dose of humor.

If You Go:

What: Beyond the Fluffy Tour featuring Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, February 28

Where: Bell Auditorium

How Much: $37 – $67

More Info:

For the Love of Dance


Photography by Kyle Froman, courtesy of
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

An Augusta native returns to Georgia to perform in the venue where he first entertained the idea of becoming a professional dancer.

As part of its 60th anniversary, 21-city North American tour, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform at the Fox Theater in Atlanta this month. And Augusta native Christopher R. Wilson, a 2013 graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, will be part of the 34-dancer company.

“The Fox is the first place I saw the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I was 10 years old,” says Wilson, who had started dancing a year earlier. “I started to feel their essence. I knew I would do this one day.”

He was encouraged to pursue dance after another Augusta native, Russell Joel Brown, who appeared in national tours of The Lion King, saw him in a dance class at a local summer camp.

Wilson danced with Ailey II, which features young dancers and emerging choreographers, for a year, and after auditioning for AAADT in April, he joined the company in May.

This will not be the first time he has returned to his home state since he became a member of AAADT, however. He came home from New York City during time off in October and taught dance and choreography at Colton Ballet School, Davidson and Jessye Norman School of the Arts.

“It’s important to give back and reach the next generation,” says Wilson. “I can’t do this forever. Someone has to do this after me.”

AAADT is a modern dance company that includes ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary dance artists, and the dancers will celebrate Ailey’s life and legacy with six performances in three different programs at the Fox.

“We are a very versatile company,” says Wilson. “I think that’s what makes us so special.”

He is looking forward to dancing at the Fox. “I can’t even imagine what that emotion will feel like when it happens, but I am very much ready to embrace it,” he says. “I am thrilled to take the stage where I first saw my dream company.”

He believes the dance company gives people a platform for expression.

“With dance, I’m able to say things I wouldn’t necessarily be able to put into words. It adds another layer to my voice,” says Wilson. “When I’m on stage, nothing else in the world matters other than that moment. I’m on stage telling people a story.”

He wants audience members to experience happiness, anger, joy or sadness through his performances.

“I want them to feel through me,” says Wilson. “Once that happens, I know I’ve done my job.”

If You Go:

What: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 60th anniversary celebration

When: February 21-24; performances and show times vary

Where: Fox Theater, Atlanta

How Much: Tickets start at $29

More Info:, or (855) 285-8499

By Sarah James


Chicken & Waffles





  • 2 pounds chicken tenders
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Canola or peanut oil for frying
  • 2 cups flour 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Syrup 

Place buttermilk and hot sauce in a resealable bag and massage ingredients together. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to bag, coating chicken thoroughly. Marinate in fridge 1-2 hours. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a medium heavy-bottom skillet or Dutch oven, heat about 1 inch canola or peanut oil over medium to medium high heat, until between 350 and 375 degrees. Add flour to a large mixing bowl and dredge chicken pieces until fully coated. Tap off excess flour and gently place chicken into hot oil (do not crowd pan). Fry 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally with tongs until crispy and a deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Set on baking sheet in oven to keep chicken warm. 

To make waffles, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs and place egg whites in a blender. Blend until frothy. Add egg yolks, vegetable oil, milk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Blend until mixed well. Pour into bowl with dry ingredients and stir until combined. Make waffles according to waffle iron instructions. Place chicken on waffles and drizzle with syrup. Serve open-faced or stack as sliders or towers. Makes 4 servings.

Block Party


1.-Buildiings-3x2Professional Lego artists will showcase almost 100 creations.

Calling all blockheads. For the first time, the BrickUniverse Lego Fan Convention is coming to the area. The event will play upon Lego’s long-standing popularity and ingenuity with attractions and activities built around the world’s favorite plastic building blocks.

The first convention was held in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015, and since that time thousands of Lego fans have attended shows to see live Lego builds and life-sized Lego models. 

3.-EdgeofGloryVisitors can build their own masterpieces in the Building Zone, the Lego Friends Building Area, Big Brick Building for younger fans and the Star Wars Zone. Lego merchandise also will be available for purchase in the Lego Retail area. 

For inspiration, attendees can visit with renowned Lego artists Jonathan Lopes of San Diego, Chicago-based Rocco Buttliere and Paul Hetherington of Vancouver, Canada.

Lopes will showcase more than 30 of his select Lego displays including an 8-foot model of New York City’s Woolworth Building.

2.-Poseidon-4x6Buttliere will bring 50-plus massive Lego models of famous landmarks from around the globe such as the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai and the Westminster Palace in London.

Hetherington will display the five Best in Show Award creations he won at Brickcon in Seattle and his “Batman vs. Joker Gotham Theater Showdown,” which was named the 2016 Lego Creation of the Year by the Brothers-Bricks. 

Tickets for the convention typically sell out, so early booking is recommended at

If You Go:

What: BrickUniverse Lego Fan Convention

When: Saturday, January 26 – Sunday, January 27; 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. each day

5.-buildingzone-2x1Where: Augusta Convention Center

How Much: $13 online; $18 at the door, if tickets still are available; free for children ages 2 and younger 

More Info:

Winter Citrus Salad

  • 2 navel oranges
  • 3 blood oranges
  • 2 pink grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Peel and cut oranges and grapefruit into 1/2-inch rounds, removing as much pith as possible. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar and honey. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Layer sliced oranges and grapefruit on a large serving platter and drizzle with honey vinaigrette. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Beach Babes

Photos courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation and Stephanie Fell

Photos courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation and Stephanie Fell

Step aside Arnold, Babe, Miss Piggy, Napoleon, Piglet and Wilbur — make way for the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas.

Most pigs are known for their penchant for wallowing in the mud. Then there are the illustrious swimming pigs of the Bahamas. These discriminating swine turn up their snouts to mud holes, preferring to frolic in the pristine, picture-perfect Atlantic Ocean waters around the island nation.

The renowned 15 or 20 swimming pigs make their home on Big Major Cay (aka Pig Beach – go figure) in The Exumas, an archipelago of 365 cays and islands. Big Major Cay can be reached only by boat, and as soon as the pigs hear the motors of approaching vessels, they spring into action. They eagerly pig-paddle out to greet the Bahamians and tourists who make daily visits to their little piece of uninhabited (by humans, anyway) hog heaven. 

The Exumas has become a playground for the rich and famous – think Johnny Depp, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, David Copperfield – and the paddling porkers have become celebri-pigs in their own right. The camera-ready pigs don’t even mind posing for the paparazzi – especially if they can be bribed with snacks. 

Once a little-known secret, the social media sensations have their own Instagram (#theswimmingpigs and #pigsofparadise) and Twitter (@pigsofparadise) accounts. They star in a short, award-winning documentary called – what else? – “When Pigs Swim” and, of course, in too many selfies to count. The outgoing oinkers have been featured on the likes of NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “The Bachelor.” They even snagged a hoof-hold in the literary world when a book about them, Pigs of Paradise by T.R. Todd, hit the shelves in October.

Little-pigletNo Pig is an Island
No one knows for sure how the pigs found their way to the white sandy beaches of Big Major Cay, which is about 82 miles southeast of Nassau and about 50 miles northwest of George Town. However, their presence on the island is the stuff of legend. Some people believe the pigs swam to safety from a nearby shipwreck. Others say they were left there by sailors or pirates who planned to come back later to cook and eat them, but never returned.

A man named Wayde Nixon also claims to have brought the first pigs – one male and four females – to the island with his business partner, Don Rolle, in hopes of starting a pig farm in the late 1990s. Nixon told the “Today” show he was preparing a sustainable food supply in case of the dreaded Y2K computer meltdown.

Regardless of how the pigs originally arrived at Big Major Cay, visitors have to charter a boat or take a guided tour to get to the island since it is accessible only by water. Boat tours to Pig Beach leave daily from Nassau and Great Exuma, but these all-day excursions require lengthy travel times. As an alternative, people can fly into the small airports on Staniel Cay, Black Point or Farmer’s Cay before boarding a boat.

Locals-feeding-Exuma-feral-pigsVisitors should book their group or private tours with a reputable operator such as Coastline Adventures Exuma, Comfort Venture Tours or Harbour Safaris. If staying in The Exumas, guests can inquire about tours at their hotel. Staniel Cay Yacht Club also provides its own tours for resort guests. Visitors can go to Pig Beach year-round, but they might want to keep in mind that June through November is hurricane season.

Most tour boats, which generally hold 20 to 30 people, run to the island between 9 a.m. and sunset. The Bahamas limits the number of tour operators that can visit the swimming pigs per day, and the tours are suitable for adults and children ages 12 and older.

Swimming pig seekers who take their own boat to the island do well to go early in the morning for the most undivided attention from the porkers. By late afternoon they often are tuckered out, and they’re more likely to sunbathe their full bellies on the beach than to wade into the water.

After discovering the aquatic critters on Instagram, Augusta residents Stephanie and Keith Fell knew they had to go to Big Major Cay. In July of 2017, they rented a vacation home with another couple, Jefferson Morris and Natalie Walls, on Staniel Cay and rented a 16-foot Boston Whaler to travel to Pig Beach.

“The pigs are precious — they’re huge,” says Stephanie. “When they see you, they start running toward you because they know you have food. We went on shore and hung out with them.”

Boats anchor in the water, she says, and people take dinghies, jet skis and paddleboards toward the shore. Apparently, none of these watercraft phase the pigs. After all, they know the people on them come bearing groceries.

“You can touch and pet them,” says Stephanie. “The pigs are super friendly and come right up to you because they want food. There are plenty of pigs to go around.”

The-Exumas---2Pig Out
Since human visitors have become commonplace on the island, the pigs mostly have abandoned foraging in the forest in favor of eating the free food that’s tossed to them from their guests. The best things to feed them are pitted fruits and vegetables such as grapes, watermelon, apples, carrots and lettuce. (Rumor has it that they particularly love watermelon rinds.) Fresh water is a good alternative to food as well.

“At first we fed them from the boat,” Stephanie says. “None of us had fed pigs before. They’ll eat anything.”

It’s better to feed the pigs in the water than on the beach to keep them from swallowing sand, which could be lethal for them. At least seven pigs were found dead in February 2017. While many reports speculated that the pigs died after imbibing booze from tourists, government officials said autopsy results found that sand ingestion was the likely culprit.

Other practical reasons to skip shore feeding frenzies? It’s better for humans, too. Persistent pigs have been known to stalk people who are carrying food on the beach. And, adds Stephanie, their aroma isn’t as noticeable in the water as it is on the island.

Exuma-TourLiving and thriving autonomously, the pigs and piglets are not dependent solely on the largess of tourists for their sustenance. Last year local volunteers formed the Official Swimming Pigs Association to care for the oinkers. The nonprofit organization monitors the pigs’ diets to ensure that they receive healthy meals in addition to treats from tourists.

The group makes sure the pigs always have fresh water, which they store on the island in three 150-gallon drums. Volunteers also mix vitamins with the water and provide the piggies with feed pellets to supplement the berries and other food they still forage on their own.

The association members even built pens for the young piglets and for ailing pigs that need medical treatment. The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources also monitors the health and safety of the pig population.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Most of the pigs on Big Major Cay have names. Raleigh, Roosevelt and Shirley were named after friends and ancestors. Three large mama pigs – Blanche, Maggie and Diane – are the namesakes of Staniel Cay matriarchs. Other pigs such as Cinnamon and Ginger get their monikers from their color patterns.

Ginger has another distinguishing characteristic as well. “She would sit for her food,” says Stephanie.

Some of the pigs are spotted; some are solid pink; others are half pink and half black.

“The pigs had different colors and different names, but they all had the same shape. They were all fat,” Stephanie says. “They were all friendly, and they were all hungry.” 

As much as the pigs love being petted and pampered, they’re willing to share the spotlight with their tropical neighbors. On the full-day boat tours to The Exumas, visitors can swim with nurse sharks at Compass Cay and see endangered Exuma Island iguanas on Bitter Guana Cay. At Thunderball Grotto — a marine cave named for the 1965 James Bond movie that was filmed there — tourists can snorkel with schools of fish. Visitors also can swim with sea turtles and feed them conch at Little Farmer’s Cay.

Stephanie-with-pigWhile meeting the pigs can be an animal lover’s dream, people who are looking for nightlife or fancy restaurants might want to vacation elsewhere.

“It’s in the middle of nowhere,” Stephanie says, “and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen water with so many different shades of blue.”

In fact, because of the turquoise waters of The Exumas, astronaut Scott Kelly has called the Bahamas the most beautiful place on Earth to view from space. He would get no argument from Stephanie.

“I don’t want to say it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” she says, “because I can’t wait to go back.”

By Morgan Davis


Hitting the High Notes


Leslie-Odom-JrBlack-tie gala and European Favorites concert kick off 2019 for Augusta Symphony 

If you think there’s nothing to do after the holidays, then it’s time to think again. This month Augusta Symphony will hold two events that are sure to put a song in your heart. 

On Saturday, January 5, the Augusta Symphony Gala will celebrate one of the city’s greatest cultural assets. This toast to Dirk Meyer, music director, and the orchestra will feature Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. during the black-tie event. Odom, who has appeared on the big screen and on television, won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Hamilton. The gala begins at 8 p.m. at the Miller Theater, and tickets are $125, $175 or $275. 

The Miller Theater also will be the site of the European Favorites concert on Saturday, January 12 at 7:30 p.m. Featured pieces will include Strauss On the Beautiful Blue Danube; Schreker Scherzo, Op. 8; Dvořák Slavonic Dance No. 2, Op. 72; Sibelius Finlandi and Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3, “Scottish.” Tickets are $22, $35 or $67. In addition, $10 walk-up tickets will be available for purchase at the box office for students and military personnel beginning an hour before the concert. 

For more information, visit