Monthly Archives: December 2020

Bacon Cheddar Twice Baked Potatoes

Side Dishes
  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup buttes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped chives
  • 1 or 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick potatoes all over with a fork or sharp knife and wrap tightly in foil. Bake until soft, about 1 hour. Unwrap and cut lengthwise slits in the top of each. Carefully scoop out flesh and place into a medium bowl. Add butter, sour cream, chives, green onions, bacon and half of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling back into each potato half, mounding it on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Makes 8 potato halves.

Covid & Campus Life

People

Four university freshmen from Columbia County share their experiences of going off to college during the coronavirus pandemic.

The first year of college can be a time of excitement, anticipation, adventure, challenge, trepidation, self-discovery and personal growth all at once.

For the college Class of 2024, however, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic added one more layer to these students’ introduction to campus life. Not only did they have to finish their senior year of high school online. They also had to start their freshman year of college amid the uncertainty, rules and regulations of the pandemic.

These freshmen approached their first semester with strength and resilience, however, to make the most of their college experience. If life as we once knew it hasn’t returned by the end of their freshman year, here’s hoping they can start their sophomore year under more normal circumstances.

In this Q&A, which has been edited for space and clarity, they described what life on campus was like during their first semester of college.

Sara Blake Tully
Augusta University freshman, business major

Did covid influence where you decided to go to college?
Covid didn’t affect my decision to go to AU. I want to transfer to UGA next year, but with everything being so crazy, I’m glad I decided to stay home and live at my parents’ house.

What kind of rules or restrictions did you have to follow on campus because of covid?
We had to wear masks in every building we went in. If we were walking outside, we could bring our masks down. The majority of time that I was on campus, I had to have my mask on.

In the classrooms, the chairs and desks and tables were set up six feet apart. There were a lot less people in class than usual. At the food court, we had to stand in line six feet apart. We had tables, but only a limited number of people could sit at each table.

What happened when someone tested positive for covid-19? And did you have to isolate or quarantine for any reason?
I am not quite sure what would happen if a student tests positive for covid-19, but I did not have to quarantine or isolate for any reason.

Were your classes online or in-person?
I had two online classes and two in-person classes. I went to campus every morning. I took biology and history online, and public speaking and pre-calculus in-person. For biology, we got handouts to answer questions that went along with videos.

Did finishing high school online help you adjust to online classes in college?
It kind of helped. When we first went online in high school, no one knew what to do at first. It’s different now. Teachers are better at doing online lectures and working with all of the technology. 

Have you had to adjust your learning style because of online classes?
Online learning for me is a lot harder than in-person because I can’t grasp the information as well. I had to study more and change my focus. It was all on school. I was juggling two things at once with online and in-person classes.

What were you most looking forward to about going to college?
Getting a fresh start, being more independent and meeting new people.

What was reality like?
It was very isolated because of the masks. It wasn’t as personable. You couldn’t meet people in class. You couldn’t really talk because of the masks. It made things a little lonelier since most of my friends went off to school. Corona didn’t make it any easier.

I rushed, though, and joined a sorority – ADPi. It was supposed to be in-person, but we did it over Zoom. It was awkward because you’re talking over a computer screen. Sometimes there were awkward silences because of the internet connection.

We had chapter meetings over Zoom, but we did some sisterhood events. We wore masks for them. We had to have a limited number of people at the events, but I could still hang out with some of the girls. We did things outside. We would go to a park or have a picnic. We social distanced.

How do you date during covid?
(laughing) You don’t. it’s really difficult to do that.

What has been the biggest disappointment or challenge about going to college during covid?
It’s not getting the full college experience. I still went to campus, which I loved. But it was not the same because there was hardly anyone there.

Was anything better than you expected?
Deciding to stay home for school has been better than I thought. It’s been nice living at home. It’s been a good stress reliever from school.

Ten, 15 or 20 years from now, how will you look back on this experience?
I’ll definitely have many stories I can tell my kids. And it has been character building. I had to learn how to interact with people and teachers differently. I have learned not to take anything for granted. I know everyone wants to go back to how life was before corona.

Bryant Thomas
Clemson University freshman, pre-business major

Did covid influence where you decided to go to college?
No. My dad went to Clemson, so I’ve always wanted to go to Clemson.

Where are you living this year?
In a dorm with my roommate. We can only have a limited amount of other people in our dorm. And when they come in, they have to wear a mask. We don’t have any rules with our roommate because we’re around each other so much. But if we have other people in, they have to wear a mask.

What kind of rules or restrictions did you have to follow on campus because of covid?Any building you went into, you had to be wearing a mask. When you were outside, if social distancing couldn’t be guaranteed, you had to wear a mask. You had to make appointments to go into the campus gym or the library.

There weren’t as many dining options. Some of the dining halls were closed because of covid, and there were a lot less food options than there normally would be. For football games, they didn’t give out as many tickets to students, and there was social distancing. I didn’t get to go to any games.

What happened when someone tested positive for covid-19? And did you have to isolate or quarantine for any reason?
Anyone who tested positive for covid-19 at Clemson had to enter 10-day isolation, and his or her roommate had to enter 14-day quarantine, even if they tested negative. I did have to isolate around the beginning of October because I tested positive for covid-19. I had a fever and body aches for about three days, and then a cough and a sore throat for about a week.

Were your classes online or in-person?
Most of them were online. For some, I only went in-person on certain days of the week. I had an economics and a geology class that were all online. My sociology, math and business classes and an entrepreneurial elective were online and in-person. The professors posted video lectures.

How did taking classes online work with a roommate?
We just ignored each other, I guess. 

Did finishing high school online help you adjust to online classes in college?
It helped. It was still kind of frustrating, though, having to sit in your dorm all day.

Have you had to adjust your learning style because of online classes?
I think of myself as more of a hands-on learner, and that’s just difficult to do through Zoom. I’ve had to switch to a more visual, auditory learning style.

What were you looking forward to most about going to college?
I was looking forward to being independent, living on my own and making new friends. That’s been a lot harder this year because of covid, but I still found ways to meet new people by getting involved in campus organizations and through my dorm.

I didn’t join a fraternity. I might next semester, but I’m not sure. Because of covid, we’re all hesitant. They can’t really do many events. We would have to go through rush on Zoom. But everyone here is sick of Zoom calls because that’s what we do for most of our classes.

How do you date during covid?
As long as you keep your group small, there isn’t really any problem. And a lot of the businesses and restaurants are still open.

What has been the biggest disappointment or challenge about going to college during covid?
I guess not really being able to go out and do anything. There are, of course, restrictions on gatherings or parties. I only saw a few situations where big groups got busted up. It was frustrating that we couldn’t have people in the dorm or go to class in person.

Was anything better than you expected?
Despite all of the covid, I think the university tried really hard to make this semester as normal as it could be. By not sending us home when our cases went up, that made it easier to go out and make new friends.

Ten, 15 or 20 years from now, how will you look back on this experience?
It’s like being part of history. I think a lot of things are going to change even after covid goes away. If I can live through this, I can make it through anything.

Sanders Hackett
University of Georgia freshman, civil engineering major

Did covid influence where you decided to go to college?
No. I told my mom when I was 4 or 5 years old that I wanted to go to UGA, and that’s what I worked for all throughout school. When I got accepted – worldwide pandemic or not – I wanted to go to UGA.

What kind of rules or restrictions did you have to follow on campus because of covid?
At UGA, the rules are pretty strict. Anytime you’re inside any sort of building, even at the gym, you have to have a mask on. Everywhere is marked off with little dots six feet apart. Anywhere you go, there’s always hand sanitizer and wipes. If you touch something that other people may touch, you wipe it down afterward.

In the dorm, it’s you and your roommate. Other than that, there are no visitors and no guests. Not even people from your own hall are supposed to be in your room.

The meal plan and the dining halls have been one of the biggest changes. When we started school, it was takeout only and the options were limited. The lines were long. Some people dropped their meal plan, but I didn’t.

I give UGA a lot of credit for asking students what they could do to better serve us. It became a more efficient process, and there were some dine-in options. The food variety got much better.

What happened when someone tested positive for covid-19? And did you have to isolate or quarantine for any reason?
When someone tested positive at UGA, they were immediately sent to isolation in a specifically designed dorm for people who test positive for covid-19. They were then given the option to go home or to stay in the isolation dorm. However, they were not allowed to return to campus for a minimum of 14 days after a positive test. This proved to be extremely effective in getting those who tested positive out of the general student body and allowing them to return to full health. I have not had to quarantine or isolate for any reason yet. I been extremely blessed and fortunate that I have been able to stay healthy.

Were your classes online or in person?
I had two classes that met in-person once a week and one that met in-person every other week. The other two were online. Calculus and world geography were online. I took two different introductory engineering courses. One met in-person once a week, and the other one met in-person every other week. My public speaking class met in-person once a week.

How did taking classes online work with a roommate?
That was one of several struggles we had. Luckily for us, we only had one class at the same time. We usually weren’t trying to do Zoom classes at the same time. It was a lot of headphones in and “please be quiet” from the other side of the room.

Did finishing high school online help you adjust to online classes in college?

As terrible as it is and was – yes. The way that we had to end high school in an online forum, it did help with the transition to online classes in college. For me, it helped with time management for online classes. You don’t have to go to class every single time it meets, but there are still deadlines for quizzes, tests and other assignments.

Have you had to adjust your learning style because of online classes?
Yes. I like being in-person and having that interaction with the teachers. I like being able to ask questions or go up to them after class.

What were you looking forward to most about going to college?
I envisioned I would be living out my dream and participating in some of the great things Athens has to offer – dorm life, going to football games and making new friends. I have been able to do some of that, but not on a large scale.

I have gotten involved in Greek life. I joined Theta Chi, and we were able to have some small events as long as we followed all of the state rules and school rules and regulations.

But with covid, I knew that the social aspect was going to be hard. I had prepared myself for this and for the challenge of earning a degree.

I also am employed part-time at RW Allen as an intern in project management and estimating. I carried that piece of home with me, but we have limited in-person interaction.

How did you go through rush?
It was a lot different. There were not any big events. When we did the house tours, everybody had to wear their masks. Only a limited number of people could be in a house at one time. We had to social distance for everything. 

How did covid affect your social life?
It tore apart my social life. I am an extremely, extremely social person. I haven’t had some of the social gatherings I thought I would have when I came to college. It has affected going on trips.

I have only been to two football games, and it was very, very different. I’ve been to UGA games all my life. I’m used to being there with 100,000 people. It’s usually loud with lots of energy. It’s hard to recreate that same experience with only around 20,000 people there.

How do you date during covid?
It’s tough. I’m not going to lie. My roommate has a girlfriend, but they have been dating a long time. You can’t date traditionally. There are not as many opportunities to go out to eat or go to a football game. There are limited social opportunities right now.

What has been the biggest disappointment or challenge about going to college during covid?
For me, I’m a very social person. There have not been very many social events or as many social gatherings as we would normally have. It’s been nothing like what I used to hear about from my other friends or when I would visit. That has been the hardest aspect for me.

Has anything been better than you expected?
The bathrooms in my dorm. Friends had told me the bathrooms are awful. I’m not saying they’re nice, but they are not as awful as everyone made them out to be.

Ten, 15 or 20 years from now, how will you look back on this experience?
That’s a tough question. Looking back on it, I hope I’ll be able to say I made the best out of the situation. I want to be able to say I had a good, positive freshman year, but I also followed the rules and regulations that are in place.

Everybody here understands that we all want to have a good time, and we all want to be able to have the normal freshman experience. But we’re not able to do that right now. The only way to get back to normal is to follow the guidelines and rules from the government and the school.

Grace O’Neal
Georgia Southern University freshman, nursing major

Did covid influence where you decided to go to college?
Not really. It hasn’t made me change my mind about my major, either. Not yet, anyway.

 What kind of rules or restrictions did you have to follow on campus because of covid?
We always had to wear a mask on campus and in class or when we went in any building. We were not allowed to have any visitors in our dorms. We had limited capacity in our classrooms, and it was optional for us to go to class in-person. If we were uncomfortable, we could go on Zoom for our classes.

What happened when someone tested positive for covid-19? And did you have to isolate or quarantine for any reason?
We have an online Georgia Southern portal with a CARES (Covid-19 Answers Resources Evaluation and Self-reporting) Center, where we were supposed to report our sickness and let our professors know. The dining hall had to-go boxes, and you were allowed to get two of them. So, if your roommate was sick, you could get one for them.

For the first couple of weeks of school, most of the people I know had covid, including me and my roommate. We had it at the same time. It wasn’t that bad. The only thing that happened to me was I lost my taste and smell, but we couldn’t do anything then.

Were your classes online or in-person?
I had three classes in-person – universal justice, government and English. One was only half a semester, though. I took chemistry and a first-year experience class that all freshmen have to take online.

How did taking classes online work with a roommate?
In our dorm, we each have our own room. I could sit in my room and shut the door.

Did finishing high school online help you adjust to online classes in college?
To a certain extent. It made me realize that I had to wake up every day and see what I had to do. At the end of our senior year in high school, they were pushing us across the finish line. It has been a lot harder in college, though. The load of work is definitely a lot more, and it’s a lot more difficult.

Have you had to adjust your learning style because of online classes?
I definitely have had to adjust my learning style due to online classes. I’ve had to get used to emailing my professors often with questions and figuring out a lot of things on my own by googling videos to explain topics I don’t understand.

What were you looking forward to most about going to college?
I was really excited to get away from home, branch out and meet new people, and live on my own. I have been surrounded by the same people my whole life.

What was reality like?
At first it was super difficult because of covid. I didn’t get to meet as many people as I thought. Over time, things got better, and I met new people. I’m in a sorority, but we weren’t getting to do anything at first. Later we could do more activities, but we had to have our masks on.

I joined ADPi, and we did rush on Zoom calls the whole week. We had a different Zoom call for each sorority every day.

How do you date during covid?
I have a boyfriend, so I’ll go to his house and hang out there and eat dinner there. Most of the restaurants in town are still open, so we can go out to eat.

What has been the biggest disappointment or challenge about going to college during covid?For me, I wanted to rush, and I was really excited about the things we would get to do with our sorority. But we haven’t been able to do much. And my parents can’t really come to visit me.

Has anything been better than you expected?
The number of friends I have been able to make has been better than I expected. I wasn’t sure I would be able to meet new friends at first.

Ten, 15 or 20 years from now, how will you look back on this experience?
It’s definitely going to be something I’ll remember. I’m glad I’ll have this story to tell that I was a freshman in college and a senior in high school during covid. Those are two really big years, and covid has altered them.

Circuit Breaker

Buzz

A change to the area court system could be in the works.

Columbia County is exploring the possibility of breaking from the Augusta Judicial Circuit, which also includes Richmond and Burke counties, to form its own standalone judicial circuit.

Scott Johnson, the county manager, says that forming a separate circuit has been under consideration for a couple of years. He says the county could save between $500,000 and $1 million as a standalone circuit.

“It would give Columbia County the autonomy to be able to make our own choices as to how we operate,” he says. “Do you want your county residents to have a full say in how much they spend, who they elect, how they operate?”

Johnson denies speculation that the election of Jared Williams, an African American, to the office of district attorney was the impetus for the move. Williams defeated incumbent Natalie Paine in November.

“It’s nothing more than a financial issue,” says Johnson. “The commissioners would have no problem working with any district attorney.”

He says the timing wasn’t right in the past because too many judges resided in the county, a criterion that could prevent Columbia County from qualifying to form its own circuit, according to a 2018 analysis.

However, the retirement of Judge Michael Annis in 2020 left Columbia County with three judges in residence. Johnson says that an updated study likely would call for three judges to live in the county.

“This is in the hands of the state legislature,” he says. “All we did is make a request that they look at it.”

The process would go through the General Assembly just like any other bill, he says. A state senator or representative would draft a bill, and the legislature would hold committee hearings and seek public input.

If passed by both chambers, then the bill would go to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. The governor would appoint a DA until a special election could be held to fill the position.

A new circuit could be in place as early as July.

“We will proceed according to the decision,” Johnson says. “”We will continue to enjoy the good relationship we have if we stay in the circuit.”

Last fall, the county commissioners also voted to purchase the 32,000-square-foot, five story TaxSlayer building in Evans for $6.5 million. The building will house the juvenile court system and the Department of Family and Child Services. The nearby courthouse will be renovated to hold superior court.

Rearrange Us — Mt. Joy

Listen To This

After the year we’ve had, it’s safe to say the traditional roar into the new year will be met with the fresh wind of cautious optimism and a rejuvenated spirit of a new day dawning. The noise of the year past is behind us, and this year is a welcomed friend.

Easing back into the groove is on tap for most of us, and the perfect soundtrack to put on like a pair of fresh socks is Rearrange Us, the latest release from the West Coast jangle-rockers Mt. Joy.

Though only the sophomore release, Rearrange Us is a lush, easy-gaze 13 tracks of authentic Americana groove sensation. Mt. Joy, known for high energy Mumford & Sons-esque clomp-stomp new grass, takes a melodic and intentional wide-coasting turn as Rearrange Us reminds us that life goes on, and if we stop long enough to enjoy the warm breeze of grand things ahead with gratitude for past experience, we will find love, courage and empowerment in the company of those we hold close.

This new release is best consumed as a tune casserole, but some of the standout flavors are the groove-70s lo-fi title track “Rearrange Us,” the funk-fused “My Vibe” and the beautiful winter warm-sun laden “Every Holiday.”

Hello, 2021. Nice to see you.

– Chris Rucker

Happy 250th

People

It’s hard to imagine how anyone would look on their 250th birthday, but German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven will sound exquisite as Augusta Symphony celebrates the 250th anniversary of his birth with its concert, Beethoven @ 250, on Saturday, January 9 at Miller Theater.

As one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music, Beethoven composed pieces that rank among the most performed of the classical music repertoire.

The Augusta Symphony performance will feature Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus Overture, Piano Concerto No. 1 and Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.”

Under the baton of Dirk Meyer, musical director, the concert will include Gilles Vonsattel on the piano. The event will feature a smaller orchestra, limited audience capacity, physical distancing and no intermission.

Symphony Series subscribers will have three opportunities to hear the concert. They can attend the dress rehearsal at 2 p.m., the concert at 7:30 p.m. or livestream the event.

The cost to livestream is $10 per household, and the link to watch the concert will be emailed three days before the performance.

For more information, visit augustasymphony.com.

Play Ball

Sports

It’s a new era in GreenJackets and Braves baseball.

The Atlanta Braves recently invited the Augusta GreenJackets to be the organization’s new Low-A affiliate beginning in 2021.

“With this invitation, the GreenJackets are officially on the path to being affiliated with the Atlanta Braves,” says Jeff Eiseman, Augusta GreenJackets president and partner. “This has been a long process, and we gratefully await the official professional development license agreement so we can finalize this partnership and complete what is a truly historic event for sports in the CSRA. Never before has this market had ties directly to our truest home team, the Atlanta Braves. We couldn’t dream of a team we would want to affiliate with more.”

The GreenJackets also have been major league affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates (1988-1998), Boston Red Sox (1999-2004) and San Francisco Giants (2005-2020).

Season seat memberships are on-sale now for the 2021 season. For more information, visit www.gjmembers.com.

 

Worth the Wait

In The Home

Photography by Katherine & Tyler Photo + Video

Patience plus passion adds up to the perfect house for a Harlem family.

Harlem residents Mandy and Chase Lord knew for years – even before they got married – where they wanted to build their forever home. While they were still dating, they picked out a three-acre lot on 114 acres of land that belongs to Mandy’s family.

They have lived in several houses, most recently in Riverwood Plantation, in the 13 years they’ve been married. They also spent that time patiently looking at floorplans and collecting pictures of home features that they liked before they finally started building their house last February.

After all, Mandy and Chase understand as well as anyone that good things come to those who wait. The couple met in the Kiokee Baptist Church youth group when she was 13 and he was 14 and quickly became friends. Of course, their friendship developed partly out of necessity.

“She wasn’t allowed to date until she was 16 years old,” Chase says. “I was her first kiss.”

Pure & Simple
Once they were ready to build, however, they didn’t let anything hold them back – specifically the coronavirus pandemic that hit at the same time. They simply forged ahead with their plans.

Mandy, a dental hygienist whose office was closed from mid-March to mid-May, often picked out appliances, cabinetry and other materials with their three children, Chandler, 10; Claire, 8; and Colbie Ann, 5, in tow since the schools also were closed last spring. And yes, the littlest Lords offered their input as well.

The family moved into the house with their yellow Lab, Brody, and their three-legged cat, Pumpkin, in July.

And they certainly were welcomed to the neighborhood. Mandy’s sister lives across the street. Her parents, two aunts and their husbands, and three sets of cousins and their families also live on the property that originally was purchased by Mandy’s grandfather and was passed down to her father, aunts and uncles.

“We wanted to get back out in the country. It’s great to be out here,” Mandy says.

They describe their home as a modern farmhouse with a coastal feel, in honor of Mandy’s love for the beach.

Board and batten siding on the exterior of the home, along with the Galvalume half round gutters that are less prone to corrosion and to collecting debris, add to the rustic farmhouse look. Full-length windows and the salt-pitted concrete flooring on the front and back porches create a beachy ambiance.

“I knew I wanted lots of windows because natural light makes me happy,” Mandy says. “I like a clean look.”

The interior walls are white, but the changing light affects their appearance throughout the day.

“At different times of the day, it looks different,” says Chase, a co-owner of MEGAH Pressure Washing. “There’s a lot of blue in the walls in the late afternoon.”

While the house was under construction, they brought various materials to the property to see how they would look in the light. Consequently, they ended up choosing a completely different flooring from the one they originally selected.

However, laminate plank flooring – durable enough to withstand three children – was a must, and five-paneled doors also can be found throughout the house.

“We have a lot of the same tastes, but Chase has to help me make decisions sometimes because I can be indecisive,” Mandy says. “I like a twist of modern. He leans toward classic, so we have a combination.”

Another feature they wanted for their forever home was for all of the rooms to be on the same level. The only stairs in the house lead up to Chandler’s bedroom.

Plenty of land, where they can raise animals and let their children run and play, was a big draw as well.

“We wanted a big outdoor living space,” Chase says. “We wanted an open floor concept inside, but we also wanted a big outdoor space to entertain.”

For now, their animal collection is confined to Brody and Pumpkin. However, Mandy’s cousins have three donkeys, four goats and two horses.

“And there are chickens everywhere,” says Mandy. “We don’t have chickens yet. We’re learning from our family. We want to get more animals.”

Chase says they probably wouldn’t have built the same house five or 10 years ago because their wants and needs have changed, but they constructed a house that reflects their values and personalities.

“We’re simple people. We just wanted good bones,” he says. “We wanted a simple place where we can raise our kids and live for the rest of our lives.”

Added Value
The Lords made a few changes to the mid-sized version of the floorplan they selected. For instance, they eliminated the breakfast area that was included in the original plan and added “little details that were inexpensive,” Chase says, “but added a lot of value.”

In the kitchen, for instance, the walk-in pantry was supposed to have shelving on both sides. However, they included a butler’s pantry on one wall instead.

They also added a desk in the kitchen in the spot where a refrigerator or a double oven was supposed to go in some plans.

Two open shelves in the kitchen are made of cedar, and the shiplap range hood also includes a feature with a cedar look. The island, which is painted a shade of blue to contrast with the white cabinets and quartz countertops, also includes shiplap.

“We just highlighted shiplap in a few different places,” says Mandy.

A subway tile backsplash is installed in a running bond pattern on the wall behind the stove and on the wall where a window overlooks the backyard. “I like having the sink at the window,” Mandy says.

The kitchen also features stainless steel appliances and a stainless steel farmhouse sink. The frosted glass on a set of cabinet doors mimics the glass of the three pendant lights above the island.

In the adjoining family room, the Lords also have a shiplap wall, where the TV is mounted above the cedar mantel of the raised-hearth, brick fireplace. Built-in bookcases flank either side of the fireplace, which is gas and wood-burning.

The sectional couch is the only new piece of furniture they bought for their new home. Apparently, it was a good purchase as the Lords seem to be in unanimous agreement about their favorite spot in the house.

“The couch,” says Chase.

“The couch,” says Chandler.

“The couch,” says Mandy. “We love a good family movie night.”

The room also features a coffered ceiling as well as full-length windows and double glass doors that lead to the covered porch.

All in the Family
Other furnishings in the house include family pieces or furniture they have had since they got married.

“Thankfully, his mom gets rid of furniture a lot,” says Mandy. “And we benefit.”

They bought the wine console in the front hallway when they first got married, however. “We don’t drink wine,” Mandy says. “I just liked the piece of furniture.”

A cozy blanket is tucked in a wire basket on the floor next to the console, and a white column adds a hint of separation from the adjoining dining room.

Chase’s father made the dining room table, which is about 20 years old, out of pine wood. “The table was at my family’s lake house,” says Chase. “It has a lot of meaning to me.”

The Lords can point out every knick and Sharpie mark in the much-loved tabletop, but these little bits of memory and character aren’t noticeable to the casual observer.

A watercolor of one of their former houses, which was painted by Mandy’s friend and local artist Anne Luckey, hangs on a dining room wall. “Our kids were born in that house in Grovetown,” says Mandy.

About three years ago, Mandy made the silhouettes of their children that hang in a row on the wall in the back hallway. A decorative arrow is positioned underneath the pictures. The arrow symbolizes one of their favorite Bible verses, Psalm 127: 4-5 – “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

The hallway leads to the master bedroom, which features a tongue and groove cathedral ceiling with exposed cedar beams. “We showed a picture to our contractor, and they took it and ran with it,” Chase says of the ceiling.

The adjoining master bath features a ceiling fan, two vanities with quartz countertops, a separate water closet, a walk-in shower, a separate tub and double doors to the walk-in closet. A pocket door connects the closet with the laundry room.

The master bedroom also overlooks the covered porch, which is a favorite gathering spot as well. A hanging bed swing on the porch rivals the family room couch as prime sitting space. One of Chase’s employees made the bed swing, and her husband and Chase hung it.

A floor lamp next to bed swing adds a cozy touch to the porch, and a pillow that says “barefoot living” emphasizes their fondness for the casual coastal lifestyle.

The space – where they enjoy eating, reading and entertaining – also features two ceiling fans, a table and chairs, and a wicker couch.

A retro, bright red, wooden Coca-Cola cooler on four legs is tucked in a corner of the porch, and another arrow, which is mounted on wood, is situated above the double doors.

A sign, which was a gift from Chase’s mother, also hangs outside. It fittingly says, “Every family has a story. Welcome to ours.”

Featuring two ceiling fans and a porch swing, the front porch also offers a welcoming spot to relax and sit a spell. Black and white buffalo-checked pillows accent the wicker furniture and two wrought iron black chairs. An overhead lantern light and two lantern porch lights by the door add to the farmhouse charm. Two big blue planters, offering a splash of ocean color, are filled with greenery and sit on either side of the front door.

Chase planted knockout roses, hydrangeas, lantana, Loropetalum and rush grass in the flowerbeds around the house. The landscaping simply adds another finishing touch to the Lords’ forever home. After all, they plan to be there for the long haul.

“You don’t sell family land,” Chase says.

By Betsy Gilliland

 

Arts Center Update

Buzz

The show will go on — one day.

Construction of Columbia County’s new Performing Arts Center is expected to be finished in January. However, the 85,000-square-foot facility will not open yet because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With covid-19, we’re not going to be able to open it up with a grand opening the way we normally would,” says Scott Johnson, Columbia County manager. “Now that we don’t have a show that’s pressing to get in, we may tweak a few things.”

The state-of-the art facility will include more than 2,000 seats, a main floor, two balcony areas with box seats, a concessions area and an orchestra pit that has the capacity to be lowered below the floor to accommodate extra seating.

Performances are expected to include Broadway plays or musicals, concerts and shows by local performing arts groups.

“This is a venue for the community. It fills a gap we’ve had in the county for a long time when it comes to art and entertainment,” Johnson says. “Not having to travel to another city to see a performance will be big for our citizens.”

The $31 million-plus project was approved by voters as part of the 2017 general obligation bond in the November 2016 general election. The PAC, which is located in The Plaza at Evans Towne Center, is being financed by the GO bond and SPLOST monies remaining from completed projects.

One By One by Ruth Ware

Literary Loop

Getting snowed in at a luxurious ski chalet high in the French Alps doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world. Especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a full-service chef and housekeeper, a cozy fire to keep you warm and others to keep you company. Unless that company happens to be eight coworkers…each with something to gain, lose and hide.

The trip begins as a normal corporate retreat: presentations and strategy sessions broken up by mandatory bonding on the slopes.

But when one shareholder pushes a lucrative but contentious buyout offer, tensions simmer and loyalties are tested. The storm brewing inside the chalet is no match for the one outside, however, and a devastating avalanche leaves the group cut off from the outside world.

As each hour passes without any sign of a missing coworker, panic mounts, the chalet grows colder and the group dwindles further…one by one.

“Ware does what she does best: Gives us a familiar locked-door mystery setup and lets the tension and suspicion marinate until they reach fever pitch… Simply masterful,” says Kirkus.

“This is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None rendered for the twenty-first century,” says Booklist.

Spiced Mulled Wine

Beverages
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons grand mariner
  • 1 large orange, sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 star anise
  • 6 whole cloves
  • Honey (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Once it starts to steam, reduce to a simmer (do not let boil) and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Remove oranges, cloves, anise and cinnamon sticks. For a sweeter mulled wine, add a little honey. Ladle into glasses or mugs and garnish with fresh orange slices, cinnamon sticks and star anise.