Monthly Archives: August 2019

Cheese Steak Sandwiches

  • 1 (1-pound) beef top sirloin steak, boneless, 3/4-inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
  • 6 thin slices provolone cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls, split and toasted

Cut steak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/8-inch thick strips. Season with garlic powder and pepper; set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, pepper and mushrooms; stir-fry 30-60 seconds; remove from skillet and keep warm.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in same skillet until hot. Add half of beef; stir-fry 2-3 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Repeat with remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil and remaining beef.

Return beef and vegetables to skillet; cook and stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Top beef with cheese slices. Heat, covered, 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted; stir gently to mix. Place beef mixture on toasted bread and serve. Makes 4 sandwiches.

More Than a Feeling

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

A River Island couple mixes New England and Southern characteristics to give their home a sleek contemporary style.

When Stacey Snyder-Swift and Adam Swift moved to Columbia County from the Boston area eight years ago, their house-hunting efforts took them to about 50 homes. Arriving to look at a house in River Island, however, they had a good feeling before they ever walked inside. After all, their Realtor was waiting for them on the front porch swing with a big smile on her face.

“She knew we were going to like this house,” says Stacey.

The Realtor was right. Stacey and Adam loved the open floor plan, and they started making changes to reflect their personalities as soon as they moved into the house in January 2012.

“It was a more traditional Southern cottage with earth tones,” Stacey says, “but we wanted it to be a little more contemporary.”

Gray, Glass & Greenery

They changed out all of the light fixtures and replaced the earth tones with gray walls and white trim. “The trim in the house is plain, which I like,” Stacey says. “It’s cottage-style with a contemporary twist because I wanted to keep the style of home.”

The living and dining areas, as well as the kitchen, are all connected in one big space, and wide-plank yellow pine flooring ties them together. The living and dining areas share a coffered ceiling as well.

Studded gray leather couches, a pair of navy chairs and custom window treatments create an inviting ambiance in the living area. “The light that we get with the number of windows is great,” says Stacey.

They redid the fireplace, installing a custom mantel and replacing the brick surround with marble. Accenting the mantel and tables, vases hold blooms and greenery such as hydrangea, magnolia leaves and redbud to bring the outdoors inside. Clear glass vases filled with fatsia bring a touch of nature to the built-in bookcases on either side of the opening to the kitchen.

They also painted the backs of the white built-ins gray, where black-and-white family photos sit on the shelves. The bookcases feature a map of Boston Harbor as well.

“We don’t do a lot of color,” says Stacey.

A geode, a rock that has been split into two pieces to expose the crystalized formation inside, is on display on the table behind a couch. A pair of abstract paintings hang by the front door.

Although he is a landscaper by trade, Adam is pretty handy indoors as well. He made two wood crates for their three dogs – Lucy and Logan, both Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and Moose, a spaniel mix. He also built the square “thunder box,” which has a cushion on top and sits in a corner of the living area, for Lucy. The piece has an opening in the back where Lucy can scoot inside to hide when it thunders.

“She’s very much the boss – until it rains,” Stacey says.

The staircase landing overlooks the dining area, peeking between more built-in bookcases. The bookcase décor includes a photo of Adam’s grandfather playing the organ – a favorite activity on family holidays. A candy thermometer, which Adam’s grandfather used when he worked as a chemist for the Necco Wafers chocolate factory, rests next to the photo.

Surrounded by upholstered chairs, a farmhouse table occupies the center of the room. “We love that table,” says Stacey. “You can destroy it, and it still looks good.”

The kitchen features stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, a vegetable sink in the island and lots of drawer space. Elm tree branches fill an oversized glass vase on one counter, and glasses line built-in shelving on a wall in the kitchen. Three glass dome pendant lights hang above the island.

“We’ve redone a lot of the rooms,” says Stacey. “We do a lot of decorating ourselves, but we bring in reinforcements from professionals.”

Stacey, who is originally from upstate New York, also relies on her Southern friends to help her bring a regional component to the décor.

Plenty of Privacy

Separated from the main living areas by an office, the master suite is like a secluded little hideaway.

The bedroom features a 14-foot, bead board ceiling; a leather headboard for the bed; and blackout curtains. A full-length mirror leans against a wall, and another mirror, with a coat of silver paint on the cherry frame to match the décor, hangs above the bed.

A geode also sits in a display box in the bedroom, and a window with the seating chart from their wedding, scripted in white lettering on the glass, hangs on a wall. A sofa is angled in a corner of the master bedroom, and double doors open onto a porch.

The master bath features a free-standing claw foot tub, two vanities with marble countertops and a marble walk-in shower. Barn wood, painted gray, covers the walls in the nook for the tub, and Adam did the tile work on the floor.

“We redid the master bathroom from top to bottom,” says Stacey.

Family members and friends, who like to take a break from their hectic Boston lifestyle, are regular guests, and a studio apartment in a loft above the carport offers them private accommodations when they visit. The loft includes a kitchenette with a window above the sink and a full bath that Adam and Stacey redid together. The bath includes porcelain tile flooring and a marble shower with penny tile on the floor.

“The loft has its own entrance,” says Stacey. “It gives people privacy to come and go as they please.”

And they certainly understand their guests’ desire for a change in scenery. After initially experiencing a little bit of culture shock, Stacey and Adam, a Massachusetts native, have come to appreciate the slower pace of life in Columbia County.

“I feel like we acclimated easily because people were really friendly,” says Stacey.

A screened-in porch is tucked between the house and the carport. The porch features ipe flooring, a bead board ceiling, a ceiling fan and a black marble fireplace that Adam built.

However, Stacey adds, “We give ourselves sabbaticals.”

The porch also features a wall of living succulent plants in old sugar molds, and curtains on the two screened walls can close off the space to give it the feel of an indoor space.

“When it cools down, it’s perfect,” says Stacey.

Year-Round Oasis

For R and R, Stacey and Adam also retreat to their outdoor living spaces. They spend most of their time outside in the backyard, where they added a pool and an entertainment area last year. Adam built the patio and outdoor kitchen, which includes soapstone countertops and a mini farmhouse sink.

The patio features bluestone flooring, a nook with a table and chairs, a sitting area around a concrete fire pit, two chairs that face a flat-screen TV on the outdoor kitchen wall, and sailcloth and strings of Edison lights overhead.

The saltwater pool and a Jacuzzi, with a waterfall that spills into the pool, feature bluestone coping. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are set up on the deck, and a pair of lounge chairs and umbrellas sit in the pool.

“In the fall, we hang out in the Jacuzzi and look at the stars,” Stacey says. “It’s really relaxing. It keeps us using our yard all year, too.”

Naturally, Adam also takes great pride in the landscaping. He has planted a row of cypress trees, a purple plum tree, gardenias, hydrangeas, snowball viburnum, forest pansy redbuds and plumeria.

Along with the black porch swing, the front porch features two black rockers with red cushions, two ceiling fans and ipe wood flooring.

A banner of some type is sure to be waving from the front porch as well. Adam rotates his inventory of outdoor flags between the Stars and Stripes, Masters and his beloved New England teams – the Patriots, Red Sox and Bruins.

“It’s sports or America,” says Stacey. “We don’t have any decorative seasonal flags.”

Stacey and Adam also enjoy the amenities that River Island has to offer.

“We really like that the houses are all different, and there is a lot of wildlife here. Twenty deer come through our side yard almost every night at dusk,” says Stacey. “You feel like you can be part of a neighborhood, but also have space to yourself.”

By Betsy Gilliland


Hitting the High Spots

Beyond the Peach State

Photos courtesy of Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa

The North Georgia mountains offer plenty of activities to entertain visitors in the fall.

With a hint of fall in the air, a relaxing trip to Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in the North Georgia mountains could be the perfect way to usher in the season. Offering outdoor activities ranging from golf and fishing to horseback riding and hiking, the resort in Young Harris gives visitors a number of ways to get out in the fresh air and enjoy nature.

The area also is an ideal place to experience one of the great joys of fall – leaf changing season – which begins in late September and continues until early November. The vibrant fall foliage starts changing colors at the mountain summits and trickles down to the valley floors.

Fun & Exploration

However, it’s not just leaf watching that attracts visitors to the Blue Ridge Mountains property. Other activities keep people entertained year-round as well.

Brasstown Valley offers a spectacular mountain golf experience with breathtaking scenery and challenging play. In fact, Golf Digest and Leading Golf Courses of America have ranked Brasstown Valley Golf Course as one of the top Georgia courses to play.

With five sets of tees, all skill levels can enjoy 18 holes of championship Scottish links-style golf on an award-winning course that winds through wildlife preserves, ponds and streams framed by the mountains. The facility also offers full practice options, a well-equipped pro shop and customized special tournaments.

Golf lessons and clinics are offered, and the layout is perfect for a corporate outing, couple’s getaway or guy’s weekend. Packages include a single round or unlimited play for the avid golfer.

Stream and pond fishing lure anglers to the property. The waterways are ideal for beginners or children, and complimentary equipment is available. Fishing licenses, which are required for ages 16 and up, can be purchased online at With advance notice, groups or individuals can enjoy guided fishing as well.

Horseback riding is another way to take in the natural beauty of the area. On the resort’s five miles of trails, guests meander through open fields, hardwood forests and crystal-clear streams for some of the best horseback trail riding in the state.

Riders can choose to go on a one- or two-hour excursion, while children 6 years old and younger can saddle up for hand-led horseback rides at the facility’s riding ring. Custom excursions, hayrides and catered picnic rides also are available for individual and group outings.

For those who prefer to explore on foot, Brasstown Valley features 9.2-miles of wilderness trails. The Miller Trek, a partnership between the USDA, USFS and the Georgia DNR, begins at Brasstown Valley Resort and extends into the Chattahoochee National Forest.

Along the way hikers will encounter hardwood forest that contains tulip tree, red maple, white oak and black locust trees. About 10 to 15 percent of the trail is located in a clear-cut, which illustrates how quickly these areas regenerate new growth and provide new habitat for wildlife.

On the trail, flowering plant varieties change as the elevation climbs from 2,000 feet to the trail’s highest point of 3,200 feet above sea level. Wildlife such as the white tailed deer, red and gray fox, flying squirrels and black bears can be spotted as well.

The orange-blazed 6.5-mile trail also features a shorter 2.5-mile loop blazed in lime green. These trails return hikers to Brasstown Valley Resort regardless of the direction they travel. One hour guided hikes for ages 7 and up are available through the resort’s recreation department.

For more entertainment options, guests can enjoy a fitness center, two tennis courts, an indoor-outdoor swimming pool, an arcade and the Equani Spa, which features Cherokee-inspired treatments and services.

Package Deals

The resort also offers several packages to travelers who have specific activities in mind.

The Escape Package includes an overnight stay, breakfast for two and a choice of two activities – 18 holes of golf, a two-hour trail ride on horseback, a Swedish massage or a manicure and pedicure.

The Ultimate Sportsman’s Package offers fly fishing, quail hunting or sporting clays for one person for a whole or half-day. Scotch or whiskey tasting in the lobby bar caps off the day.

Outdoorsmen also can enjoy the Angler’s Package, which includes a guided whole or half-day fishing trip, followed by scotch or whiskey tasting in the lobby bar. A Georgia state fishing license is required.

Couples can enjoy the Heaven on Earth Package, which features spa services and two breakfast vouchers, or the Romantic Getaway, which offers deluxe accommodations, dinner and breakfast for two, and champagne and chocolates upon arrival.

Girls or Guys Night Out trips offer wine and cheese tastings or a bucket of beer with salsa and chips and a choice of an 18-hole round of golf, two-hour trail ride, manicure/pedicure or Swedish massage.

All the Comforts of Home

At some point, travelers will need a place to relax after their full days of activity, and the accommodations at Brasstown Valley include 201 lodge guest rooms, eight four-bedroom log cottages and a deluxe spa suite.

The lodge includes five one-bedroom suites, and 26 of the rooms have fireplaces. Panoramic mountain views can be seen from the lobby, which also features a stone fireplace and oak-vaulted ceilings.

Set back in the woods for more privacy, the cottages are ideal for families or for executive strategic planning retreats. Each cottage has a different mountaineering motif, and a variety of layouts is available. However, all cottages include large covered wooden decks, fully equipped kitchens, a gas grill, a living room, dining room table and half-bath. Many of the cottages have a wood-burning fireplace as well.

The Equani Spa’s private suite, a secluded 825-square-foot retreat, features a rooftop deck; a Jacuzzi tub for two that opens to a 46-inch flat-screen TV and fireplace; an “experience shower” with double-drench shower heads, steam, aromatherapy, LED lights and marine speakers with 12-head Swiss shower bars; a kitchenette; wireless Internet service; and views of the mountains, golf course and horse pastures.

The bedroom décor includes a vaulted pine ceiling and stacked-stone gas fireplace with a door to the private deck. The living room also has a vaulted pine ceiling, wet bar, flat-screen TV and space to position two massage tables for a private, in-room massage.

Hunger Games

Brasstown Valley Resort also is renowned for its fine meals, Friday evening seafood buffets and Sunday brunches.

The restaurant’s Brasstown Valley Shrimp & Grits – featuring creamy, locally milled grits and jumbo shrimp simmered in a rich Creole sauce – was awarded the 2019-2020 “Georgia’s 100 Plates” distinction by the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division. The nomination-based list, featured in the fifth annual Explore Georgia Culinary Guide. is a collection of outstanding dishes from around the state that represent its diverse culinary scene.

For more casual dining, Brassies Grill offers a leisurely lunch, quick afternoon snack or cozy fireside dinner. Guests also can play pool or darts or catch the game, race or replays of the day on a big-screen TV.

Other nearby attractions include Lake Chatuge; Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia; whitewater rafting; and vineyards such as High Tower Creek, Crane Creek and Eagle Fork.

By Morgan Davis

Hands-On Healing


(From left) Helios Equine Rehabilitation Center horse caretaker Rachel Hynes, co-owner Susan Hathaway, general manager Ed David and horse caretaker Christine Smith with guard dog Leizel.

A new equine center offers state-of-the-art therapies to rehabilitate ailing, injured and special needs horses.

Like many good ideas, the concept for Helios Equine Rehabilitation Center began as a sketch on a napkin. With years of diligent research and careful planning, however, that drawing methodically grew from an outline into reality.

Helios Equine, a 150-acre Lincolnton facility that provides rehabilitation services to horses recovering from surgery or injury and treatments to horses requiring special care, is holding a grand opening on Saturday, September 14.

“This is a dream of mine,” says Evans resident Susan Hathaway, who co-owns Helios Equine with Kirk Laney. “I’ve always wanted to be able to take care of horses.”

Her dream began to evolve from the napkin sketch she made five years ago into fruition after she found an architect, a co-owner and a general manager to come along for the ride. And also like many good ideas, this one was born of necessity.

Helios Equine provides around-the-clock customized care for horses that are ailing, recovering from an injury or surgery, have a high-value pregnancy or require special therapies.

When Susan, a retired U.S. Army major who served as a military and a civilian RN, moved to Georgia 10 years ago, she had two horses that had become ill. One had respiratory problems, and the other had post-operative colic surgery complications. “There were few horse therapies in Georgia that met the qualifications to do the therapy they needed,” Susan says.

With her initial design plan in mind, she started scouring the state for land that would meet the requirements to develop a horse rehabilitation facility. She found the Lincolnton property, a former pecan farm and cattle ranch with established pastures, three years ago.

Safety & Security
Susan, who has 21 horses – plus a baby horse in utero – of her own, always has had a strong bond with the animals. “Horses have a lot of healing properties that they give to us,” she says.

And now, with Helios Equine, she can do the same for them with state-of-the-art amenities.

Back view of Helios Equine Rehabilitation Center

Currently, the center features an 18,000-square-foot administrative building and barn, which includes offices, a conference room, a laundry room, dual tack rooms, dual feed rooms, a veterinary care room, an indoor washroom and 24 stalls.

Each stall has a 12-foot-by-12-foot indoor space and a 12-foot-by-12-foot covered outdoor shelter adjoining a 12-foot-by-16-foot run-out paddock.

“Horses in rehab can’t run, so you have to contain them,” says Ed David, general manager.

The stalls also feature ThuroBed mattress flooring, which mimics a pasture for improved comfort and traction, and 24/7 security cameras to monitor the horses.

“With a camera on every horse, we can track their behavior and make better diagnoses,” Susan says.

The building also includes circadian lighting and fire suppression, automatic water monitoring, ventilation and mud management systems in a dust-free environment.

The grand opening of the center will be held Saturday, September 14.

“Safety is very important here. We stress ventilation and circulation because they are necessary for a healthy barn, and we train people to get people and horses out of the barn in case of fire,” says Susan, who also is a former firefighter. “Our water system will kick in and flood the barn, and there is a point of egress in every stall. There are points of egress everywhere. Horses are known to want to come back to their stall.”

In another precaution, Helios Equine keeps only a weeks’ worth of hay supply in the building. “Hay is extremely combustible. It’s more combustible than gasoline,” Ed says.

The property also has broken ground on an aqua center, which will include three treadmills for the horses. The treadmills will use hot or cold water to help horses increase their circulation and expedite healing. Susan hopes the aqua center will be open by the end of December.

“I think the aqua center will be a game changer,” Ed says.

Although they are not yet in the works, other future plans include stem cell therapy and a hyperbaric chamber.

Outdoors, the property, which still has pecan trees, features horse friendly landscaping. “Pecans are not dangerous for horses, but black walnuts and persimmons will kill them,” Susan says.

General manager Ed David with Chance and Zuzu

Building Trust
The licensed facility does not offer boarding services, nor is it a rescue center. “Our care is veterinary driven,” Susan says. “To come here, a horse needs a referral from a vet. Or one of our veterinarians can make a recommendation.”

The Helios Equine staff partners with its clients’ veterinarians to create individual rehabilitation programs for recovery, improved patient mobility and health maintenance through strength training.

Helios Equine services include digital thermal imaging, laser therapy, PFE blankets to increase circulation and healing, ice boots and wraps for legs, slinging capabilities and Advanced TeleSensors Vital Sign Equine Sensor therapy. ATS, which is in each stall, remotely detects equine heart and respiratory rates, heart rate variability and motion in real time without putting a sensor on the horse and transmits the information wirelessly.

To receive care at Equine, a horse needs a referral from a veterinarian, or a Helios veterinarian can make a recommendation for services.

The Helios staff members thoroughly document their treatment of the horses, and they develop follow up treatment plans for horses once they are discharged from their care.

“Treating people and horses is similar,” says Susan. “A lot of the medicines that horses take are human medicines, but they take them in larger doses. Wound care for horses is similar to wound care for humans. Nutrition also is very important.”

Susan says the average stay for the horses will be three to six months, depending on what’s wrong with them and how quickly they respond to therapy.

“We’re going to try to get the horses where they need to be safely and soundly with proper medical care,” she says.

Medications and therapies are not the only aspects of treatment that horses and humans have in common, however.

“The way you approach, handle and take care of a horse is similar to a human patient,” Susan says. “You have to gain the trust of a complete stranger. A human can talk to me, but a human can be just as stoic as a horse. People and horses don’t want to bother you, and they don’t let on that they’re in pain. Horses can’t answer you, but they can physically react.”

Helios Equine, a 24/7 facility with round-the-clock security, admitted its first patients in May. In August four patients receiving treatment at the center included Chance, who was there for ATS studies; Zuzu, who had leg sores and stiffness; Lilly, a mare that was mated specifically with another horse and has a high-value pregnancy, and Patches, who was being evaluated for behavioral issues.

Veterinarian Samantha Canup gives an ultrasound to Lilly, a mare under care for a high-value pregnancy.

“Horses like attention, and they want attention,” says Susan. “They’re like very large children in that respect.”

Patches, who is housed in a stall across from Lilly, might be Exhibit A. Susan says he will snort and stomp his feet if staff members go to Lilly before him.

These horses came to the center from Athens as well as Michigan and Texas, and Susan expects to treat horses from anywhere. She also believes the proximity of Aiken and Tryon (North Carolina) International Equestrian Center will draw patients to Helios Equine.

“I really want to offer the best staff for all the horses,” says Susan. “Some people have a knack for horses.”

Horse People
In addition to the owners, the staff currently includes five people –Ed; horse caretakers Christine Smith and Rachel Hynes; Gabriel Hathaway, who runs the maintenance shop; and Jovica Dimovski, who oversees security.

“Everybody is very passionate about the care and rehabilitation of the horses,” says Christine. She has degrees in equestrian studies from Salem (West Virginia) College and Meredith Manor International Equestrian Centre in Waverly, West Virginia. Meredith Manor is a nationally accredited equestrian college dedicated exclusively to preparing students for successful careers with horses.

Susan plans to expand the staff to 12 – 14 people for the day shift and four or five people for the night shift. Additional positions will include sports medicine, large animal veterinarians that specialize in surgery, leg injuries, neurology and internal medicine; vet techs; stable hands; a barn manager and a water therapy manager. Initially, the center evaluated horses through veterinary consultations.

“I like to be hands-on with horses,” says Susan. “I like to touch them, see how they work and see if they will do what I ask. We have to meet their physical, emotional and nutritional needs.”

And the horses, in turn, can fulfill emotional needs for the people who take care of them.

“Where else can you go and enjoy life and be happy?” Ed, who spent 30 years in the military and 18 years in law enforcement, says of the facility. “I think our society is changing, and we are losing values. The horses want to do good. It’s satisfying that they want to do better.”

For more information, visit

By Leigh Howard

Photography by Sally Kolar

Yabba Dabba Doo!


Augusta University will be one of only two public universities in Georgia to offer a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in animation.

Augusta University’s Department of Art and Design has a new draw. Starting this fall, the department will offer a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in animation.

The mastermind behind the program is A.B. Osborne, the new assistant professor of animation. “My goal was to find a place where I could build my own program in animation,” says Osborne, who has a master’s degree in animation from Savannah College of Art and Design. “That’s why it was really exciting to come here, especially with Georgia being such a hot market right now for both film and video games.”

However, he adds, it’s not just the production of films and video games that is thriving in Georgia.

“Cartoon Network is also here in Georgia, along with Bento Box Entertainment, which makes the show, Bob’s Burgers,” Osborne says, adding that Bento Box also animates the show, The Awesomes, which is written by comedians Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker.

“There are a lot of places where students from our animation program can go for careers after they graduate,” Osborne says. “I only see that getting better over the next few years.”

The only other public university in Georgia that has such a program is Kennesaw State University.

“Other public schools offer animation courses, but they don’t have this type of degree,” says Scott Thorp, the Department of Art and Design chairman. “Once the word gets out that we have it, I think it will be a magnet for us.”


Let It Glow


When the sun goes low, that runner’s high can kick in for participants of the Fort Gordon Glow Run. Designed for people of all ages and athletic abilities, the event will light up the night at Barton Field in a 5k Fun Run and 3k Fun Run/Walk event.

Runners and walkers are invited to participate in Fort Gordon’s only nighttime run of the year, an evening filled with glow sticks, black lights and music. Arrive early for the pre-party that includes live entertainment, face painting, Glow Zumba and more.

The 5k run begins at 8:30 p.m. and the 3k run/walk begins at 8:35. The events are not timed, and medals will be presented to all finishers at the end.

To register, visit Registration closes August 17.