Monthly Archives: October 2023

Alpenglow — Trampled By Turtles

Listen To This

trampled turtlesAs wisps of the holiday season begin to ignite olfactory memories, our hibernation reflex kicks into a bonfire of reflection and sentiment, electrifying the anticipation of gatherings and celebrations to come.

The soundscapes that provide ambience to the bustle are an important contribution to set the table for any mood or milieu. One album to toss into the knapsack of autumn’s awesomeness is Alpenglow, the 10th release by folk-grass sextet Trampled By Turtles.

With their mastery of folk emotion and signature blend of harmonies and virtuosic instrumentation, the group once again proves themselves to be modern-day troubadours of nature’s majesty.

Each track is like exploring a new facet of the wilderness, from energetic mountain peaks to serene riversides. From the rumble-picking opener, “Mountain Call,” to the golden melody of the title track, Alpenglow captures the breathtaking awe of being wide open on a crisp mountaintop and reminds us of the wonder that lies just beyond our doorstep.

So, lace up your hiking boots, grab some hot cider and enjoy the season of thankful times with the ones who give you joy.

– Chris Rucker

Teacher of the Year


Crystal McDowell of Greenbrier High SchoolCrystal McDowell of Greenbrier High School has been named the 2023-24 Columbia County School District Teacher of the Year. She teaches biology and anatomy to students in grades nine through 12.

Her winnings include the opportunity to drive a 2023 BMW X1 on a one-year lease that is donated by Taylor BMW at no cost to the teacher.

In addition, ACHS Insurance donates insurance coverage at no cost and Affordable Auto Insurance donates a $1,000 gas voucher.

Baked Sea Scallops

  • Great Seafood Appetizers12-16 jumbo sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and cracked pepper, to taste
  • 2 limes, halved

Wakame seaweed, for garnish (or you can substitute fresh dill, parsley or tarragon)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place shells on sheets and add scallops (or place scallops directly on sheets). In a small glass bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Spoon over scallops and bake 20 minutes (do not overcook or they will be tough). Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle with lime juice. Garnish with seaweed or fresh herbs. Makes 12-16 appetizers.

Family, Friends & Fellowship

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

While this Champions Retreat couple hosts their extended family for Thanksgiving every year, their house is filled with people year-round.

When Catherine and Emmanuel “Manny” Ngoh started making plans to build their custom home in Champions Retreat, where they have lived since 2015, they had three items atop their wish list.

“We wanted a media room. We wanted something Mediterranean, and we wanted an outdoor kitchen where we could entertain family and friends,” says Catherine.

Although the Ngohs originally are from Cameroon, they have lived in the United States for about 26 years. “He came here for school, and I came here to join him,” Catherine says.

Manny, an endodontist, attended college in Atlanta and the Medical College of Georgia, and most of their relatives now live in the Atlanta area.

While the parents of three grown sons are empty nesters, their home is hardly empty. Just about any occasion calls for filling it with people they love, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Typically, they host about 25 people for the holiday.

A Matter of Scale

With 16-foot ceilings, windows that stretch from floor to ceiling and oversized accessories, their home is a reflection of their generous spirit and big-hearted personalities.

“Everything had to be big to match the height of the ceilings,” says Catherine. “Otherwise, it would get lost.”

Two tall white columns with a marble look separate the two-story foyer from the living room, which is accented by a coffered ceiling and a raised hearth marble fireplace.

The wall behind the fireplace has a stone look, and a TV with a curved screen is situated above it. A trio of large blue pillar candlesticks, which hold white candles, rest on the hearth.

Furnishings include a pair of white octagonal tables, a striped couch, an ottoman and an oval-shaped glass coffee table. Three velvet pillows from Italy line the couch, and they have different fabric on each side.

A pair of blue chairs sits in front of the two-story bay windows that are accented with custom-made, fire-retardant, gold-colored silk window treatments. Catherine got the silk fabric from Scalamandré, a New York company that develops custom textiles.

Founded in 1929, the company has been commissioned to weave fabrics for some of America’s most famous homes including San Simeon, Monticello and the White House.

Catherine likes to change the décor, switching out pillows and changing curtains to match. While Scalamandré is one of her favorites, so is the view from the living room.

“I really love the glass windows,” she says. “Sometimes we see golfers on the course.”

The living room overlooks the ninth hole of the Creek Course at Champions Retreat, where this family of avid golfers spends lots of time.

Oversized vases and planters in the living room are filled with flowers and greenery, and an arched pass-through opening above built-ins in the space connects it with the dining area.

Conversation Area

The dining area features an octagonal trey ceiling, hardwood flooring that extends throughout the first story, built-in cabinets with an old world finish, four studded upholstered chairs at a round table and a chandelier above the table.

“We use this area when we entertain,” Catherine says. “It’s a conversation area when I’m in the kitchen.”

She loves to cook, so naturally, the kitchen is one of her favorite spots in the house.

“I like the kitchen because I get to cook my favorite meals for my family,” Catherine says. “That’s the area where we can sit down together.”

The spacious kitchen includes two islands. A chandelier hangs from a six-sided trey ceiling inset that matches the shape of one island.

“If we had done a square island, it would have looked smaller,” Catherine says. “This gives us more space and more storage. It has a unique shape.”

A farmhouse sink is nestled in the other island, where five studded leather stools offer extra seating.

Other kitchen features include a wine cellar with a glass door, granite countertops, tile backsplash, diamond-shaped tiles in the backsplash inset above the stove, pot filler, wood stove hood with a stone-look finish, appliance garage and lots of drawers and cabinets for storage.

The Ngohs also spend a lot of time in the adjoining keeping room, which features leather furnishings, a six-sided trey ceiling, a TV and sliding glass doors to the covered back porch.

In the formal dining room, rust-colored walls and window treatments offer a warm contrast to the cream-colored wainscoting. Studded, upholstered chairs surround the table.

The dining room also features a two-story coffered ceiling and a built-in sideboard beneath an arched mirror. Two oversized vases anchor each end of the sideboard, and four African pictures hang on the opposite wall.

Casual Entertaining

While the Ngohs have plenty of space for formal entertaining, they also have ample room for casual get-togethers.

For instance, their media room features two rows of leather seats, skylights in the black ceiling and a golf simulator.

“Manny did most of the design for the media room, where he likes to read or work on his golf game,” says Catherine. “I did most of the rest of the house.”

The upstairs billiards room overlooks the living room. While there’s no pool table in the room, they use the space, which features a curved, wrought-iron balcony railing, as a sitting area.

For their overnight – or longer – company, the guest bedroom features a king-size, four-poster bed. Although the bed and bedside tables are made of mahogany, the Ngohs updated them with a coat of white paint for a more modern look.

Double doors lead to another guest room, which features a built-in desk with bookshelves and a trey ceiling. Designed as a study, the space was converted into a spare bedroom.

The master suite is another one of Catherine’s favorite spots in the house. The room features an octagonal trey ceiling, bay window in the sitting area, custom-made silk window treatments, built-in drawers with a TV nook and shelves, a small refrigerator, a leather bench with carved wood legs at the foot of the bed and a door to the outside porch.

They often eat dinner on the porch at the tile table with wicker chairs and take advantage of the outdoor kitchen amenities. They include an Evo grill, Big Green Egg, refrigerator, granite countertops and cooktop with lid.

The porch also features a TV, ceiling fans, Edison lights, recessed lighting, heaters and tile flooring.

A stone fire pit and palm trees outside the wrought iron fencing around the pool, which features a stone waterfall and diving board, add to the ambiance of the outdoor living space.

“We like to use the pool in the summer, and we like to have friends use it as well,” Catherine says.

Whether the Ngohs are hosting family get-togethers, Christmas parties, Bible studies or other faith-based gatherings, they’re most content when they’re entertaining company.

“We just like having people here,” Catherine says. “We like it when people are happy. Fellowship is a good thing.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Pour, Plate & Paint


Photography by Sally Kolar

French wine, Southern-inspired cuisine and a brush of art gave these party guests a taste of the unexpected.

Nothing helps people bond quite like sharing good food, fine wine and a chance to indulge in their creative sides.

Just ask the guests who attended “A Parisian Night Meets Charleston” at the Appling home of retired veterans Cynthia Stein and her husband, Troy Rader.

wine partyThe party, where French wine culture merged with upscale Southern-inspired cuisine, was the pilot project for Cynthia’s new business, Hope Enterprises: Life Interactive. As an experience coordinator, she puts together immersive activities to help people enrich their lives and broaden their horizons.

“Being in the military, I have traveled a lot in my life,” said Cynthia. “In Europe, you can hop on a train and have an immersive experience in a different country in a day or two. I wanted to bring that same concept here.”

For the inaugural venture, she collaborated with sommelier and certified specialist of wine Hailey Etzel, who owns Etzel Consulting, and local artist Anne Luckey of ArtsAnneCrafts.

While Hailey educated the guests about the particulars of pairing food and wine, her husband Brian manned the grill to prepare food for the five-course meal. Anne led a hands-on art project in which each guest painted a Charleston-inspired, laser-cut wood ornament.

‘What’s Next?’

As dinner jazz music played in the background, the guests mingled together in the house, outside on the patio and by the pool. The leisurely pace of the party allowed everyone to get to know each other as they savored the food and wine.

“Wine and food can complement or contrast with each other,” said Hailey. “They both have so many different properties. They fill in the gaps with each other and enhance each other.”

The first two courses were served inside. Featuring brie in puff pastry with blackberry preserves, the amuse bouche was paired with the bubbly Cave de Bissey Cremant de Bourgogne.

“The amuse bouche is a palate teaser to awaken the senses,” Hailey said. “We paired the rich, creamy, buttery brie with a dry, acidic bubbly. Life is too short to eat mediocre food.”

For the appetizer, Brian grilled Cajun shrimp in the fully equipped outdoor kitchen and served it over maple sweet potato hash with bacon and pecans. Hailey paired the appetizer with a contrasting 2021 Hugel Gentil Alsace.

“The food was amazing, and it’s fun to learn how to pair it with wine,” said guest Jannene Olson, who attended culinary school with her husband, Craig. “We have a lot of parties and people over for dinner at our house. People love food, but a lot of people feel like they can’t cook or don’t have the time to cook.”

Cari and Anthony Osborne, who have lived in the area for two years, agreed.

“I feel like we’ve done a lot different things here,” Cari said. “So, what’s next? It’s nice that we don’t have to travel to do something like this.”

Outside Their Comfort Zone

Following the appetizer, the guests settled down at one of two tables to paint an ornament that featured a scene from the Battery or Rainbow Row in Charleston.

“If you can color in a coloring book, then you can paint the ornaments,” said Anne. “There is no wrong way.”

Concentrating on the task at hand, no one shied away from the art portion of the evening.

“If I had told my husband we were going to do an art project tonight, he would have stayed home,” Jannene says.

Instead, he appreciated the novel activity.

“When we entertain, we play a lot of games,” Craig said. “I like the art component of the party.”

Another guest, Kaitlyn McGinnis, said she usually doesn’t “do art” unless her son makes her.

However, the group enjoyed revisiting their younger days.

“We’ve had the chance to develop some other talents or explore ones we haven’t used for a while,” said Anthony. “I haven’t painted since high school, so that was fun.”

With paintbrush in hand, John-Michael Brady admitted, “I’m out of my comfort zone a little bit.” However, he added, “I’m in an environment where I feel comfortable.”

Anne tied a bow on the finished products, and Cynthia and Troy hung their ornaments on a small lighted tree in their living room.

Complement and Contrast

After putting the finishing touches on their ornaments, the guests took their salad plates outside under a full moon in the night sky.

Paired with a 2020 Clair Chante Beaujolais Villages, the salad included a spring mix, strawberries, chèvre, almonds and raspberry vinaigrette.

While the food and wine flavors contrasted with each other in the amuse bouche and appetizer, the flavors in the salad and wine complemented each other.

“All of the flavors in the wine are sweeter than the flavors in the salad,” said Hailey.

For the main course, Brian treated the guests to grilled ribeye over whipped potatoes, haricot verts and compound butter. A 2018 Chateau L’Hospital, Graves, Bordeaux, accompanied the entrée, and Hailey stressed one of her favorite tips for pairing food and wine – serve “cab with a slab.”

“This wine is a big, bold red with lots of dark fruit flavors,” she said.

Dessert featured New York cheesecake with Fruitland Augusta peach vodka compote and brown sugar bacon streusel, and it was paired with a 2016 Sablette Sauternes.

For the party, Hailey selected wines that typically would not be found on a restaurant menu.

“I love teaching people about wine,” she said. “I want them to know that it doesn’t take a lot of money or knowledge to elevate the food and wine experience. Wine is a glass of a certain place during a certain time.”

The Etzels love the memories that wine evokes.

“We remember things based on the wine we were drinking at the time,” said Brian.

Touching All the Senses

To Cynthia, creating memories is a large part of her business concept.

“You have to give people something to walk away with and talk about,” Troy said.

That’s just what Cynthia had in mind.

“I wanted people to leave feeling like, ‘Wow! That was amazing. All of my senses were touched,’” she said.

Mission accomplished.

By Leigh Howard

Get the Party Started


Entertain like a pro with these tips from a local caterer.

Food is meant to be shared with family and friends, and longtime local caterer Bill Coxwell believes there is no better way to make others feel special than by throwing them an unforgettable party with fabulous cuisine.

“The meal should crescendo from a good appetizer to an outstanding entrée to a showstopping dessert,” says Bill, the owner of Sweet Azalea Gourmet Shop, Café and Catering in Augusta.

While the food is the centerpiece of any special occasion, the cookbook author and Johnson & Wales University culinary alum says people often make a couple of common mistakes when planning a party. Hosts underestimate the amount of time it takes to get everything done and forget to make a good checklist.

However, from making a guest list to budgeting, planning a menu to creating a beautiful tablescape, carrying out a theme to selecting a caterer, Bill shares some of his best tips for stress-free entertaining.

The Guest List

• Invite a mix of people to a party, including “the” person who can talk to anybody about anything. “If everybody at a dinner party works at the library, then you’re going to have only one topic of conversation,” says Bill. “You need to have a mix of people so they can make new acquaintances and find things in common.”

• Decide if you want to have an indoor or outdoor party, or if you want to rent a venue to accommodate more guests. If planning an outdoor party, however, consider the season and whether or not it’s feasible to leave the doors open.

• Start small by entertaining two or three couples if you haven’t hosted a lot of parties. “I like smaller parties because you can be a little more intimate with the food and put more into the presentation,” Bill says.

• Expand the guest list if you have a nice patio that can serve as an overflow area.

The Budget

• Watch for sales and freeze foods up to two or three months in advance.

• Serve dips and spreads rather than items that are served as individual bites.

• Take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables such as cranberries and fresh sweet potatoes during the holidays.

• Remember than you can put down a deposit for a party such as a wedding reception and pay the balance later.

• Don’t pay someone else to do something you can do yourself.

The Menu

• Think about the foods that guests would like to eat. In other words, hosts can serve something they don’t like. “It’s about the guests,” Bill says. “It’s not about you.”

• Consider the time of year when planning a menu. For instance, don’t serve chili in July.

• Vary the color and texture of the food.

• For an engagement party, try to serve favorites of the couple.

• For a wedding reception, serve food that appeals to all ages.

• Choose universally accepted, well-received entrees. If you’re on a budget, serve pork tenderloin instead of beef tenderloin or shrimp dip instead of pickled shrimp.

• Decide how creative you want to be. “I always try to do one dish that’s a little different,” says Bill.

• Serve signature items and foods that you prepare well.

• Outsource foods you’re not comfortable preparing.

• Serve people something they don’t get at home. Let the guests experience the food rather than taste it.

• Don’t skimp on beverages. Top brands let guests know you value their company.

The Portions

• Learn by doing. Practice making a casserole dish and spoon it into six-ounce portions to determine how much food you need to feed your number of guests.

• Consider the demographics of the party. While Bill says he learned at culinary school to offer two to three hors d’oeuvres per person, he doesn’t stick to that rule. For instance, men will eat more of an hors d’oeuvre that includes meat.

• Have too much food rather than not enough. “I’d rather look at it than look for it,” says Bill. However, he notes, some people don’t mind running out of food because it signals that the party is over.

The Serving Pieces

• Plan on 1.5 plates per person.

• Have at least two napkins per person for a cocktail party.

• Use disposal plates and glasses for a large or informal gathering.

• Use glassware for smaller groups, especially at night, to make the gathering feel more intimate and formal.

• Save the fine china for a group that will appreciate it.

• Let the dishes and crystal complement each other.

• Look for unusual serving pieces at flea markets. “You might not use them more than once a year, but it makes the guests feel like the host took the time to set the table to make them feel special,” says Bill.

• Take inventory of your serving pieces and make sure you have the items you need. Do you have toothpick holders? Are your trays large enough so that they don’t need to be replenished constantly?

• Take out serving pieces a week before the party to polish and clean them. Put a sticky note on each piece with the name of the dish that will be served from it.

The Tablescape

• Don’t underestimate the power of presentation.

• Elevate some items on risers for a buffet, but make sure the base is sturdy.

• At large parties, set up stations to eliminate a traffic jam at the main table. They can include iced tea, desserts or a farmers’ market spread with fruits, vegetables and cheeses.

• Use fabrics that complement the serving pieces, whether you use silver and fine china or pottery and baskets.

• Line the table with mint julep cups that are filled with flowers or greenery instead of putting one massive floral arrangement in the middle of the table.

• Arrange charcuterie boards tastefully and artfully.

• Remember that simplicity is elegance.

The Theme

• Name the food to match the theme. For instance, baked corn dip can become Mexican Street Corn Dip for a Cinco de Mayo party. For a Mardi Gras party, call sliced pork tenderloin Gator Tail or crab dip Cajun Crab Dip. “The food itself can carry out a theme most easily,” Bill says.

• Serve a signature beverage with a fun name such as Swamp Water Punch for a Halloween party or Bog Bayou for a Mardi Gras party.

• Write the food and beverage names on place cards or chalkboards to put next to the dishes.

• Fill gift bags with theme-related favors such as a corkscrew for a wine tasting party.

The Caterer

• Ask people for references when selecting a caterer.

• Get menus from several different caterers before hiring one for your party.

• Meet with the caterer ahead of time to plan and discuss the party.

• Invite the caterer to your home or venue in advance so they can see the space where they will be working.

• Know the charges up front. Are delivery, cleanup, plates, forks or cake cutting included in the price, or do these services involve extra fees? Does the price include the caterer’s staff?

“Catering is much more than food,” Bill says. “Caterers are an extension of the host or hostess. They should make the host look good and the guests feel good. When guests leave, they should think, ‘That was a great party.’”

Bancs Bowers – Edward Jones

Faces of Success

Edward Jones – Financial Advisor: Bancs Bowers

Whether you’re planning for retirement, saving for college for children or grandchildren, or just trying to protect the financial future of the ones you care for the most, we can work together to develop specific strategies to help you achieve your goals. We can also monitor your progress to help make sure you stay on track or determine if any adjustments need to be made. Throughout it all, we’re dedicated to providing you top-notch client service.

4210 Columbia Road
Martinez, GA 30907

(706) 863-5303

edward jones financial advisor Bancs Bowers

Jeremiah + Leanne Johnson – Mod Ink

Faces of Success

From celebrities like the Bacon Brothers in New York and Jay Leno in California, clients from coast to coast have turned to the award-winning Mod Ink for its design and print talents.

“Our business took off with the posters we did for a lot of artists and comedians through 2020,” says Leanne Johnson, who started the full-service screen printing shop in Augusta with her husband, Jeremiah, in 2012.

Mod Ink has won numerous American Advertising Awards for its screen-printed posters. To create designs, Leanne draws inspiration from various sources including art, movies, music and pop culture.

The business creates logos, branding and designs for many races, concerts and schools, and Jeremiah and Leanne enjoy getting to know their clients on a personal basis.

754 Broad Street
Augusta, GA 30901
706) 945-8879

Screen Print tees, graphic design, logos Augusta Georgia


Michael Siewert – Signature Interiors & Gifts

Faces of Success

Award-winning interior designer Michael Siewert — aka Signature Mike — is nationally known for creating spaces and looks that are as beautiful as they are functional.

Since moving his business here from Washington, D.C., in 2005, he and his staff have helped hundreds of clients customize their homes and businesses throughout the country, from new construction to remodeling projects to redecorating existing spaces. And they love the results.

Shop His Local Stores on Fury’s Ferry Road in Martinez or He Will Come to You!

3505 Professional Circle
Augusta, GA 30907

(706) 447-1503

Best Interior Designer in Augusta Signature Design

Meghan Eller – House of the Bride

Resource Guide

Forty never looked so good, and at House of the Bride, 40 is as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day.

The shop, founded in 1983, is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and Meghan Eller, only the second owner in the bridal boutique’s history, says they will celebrate all year long.

Meghan, who bought the shop in 2015, started working there in 2012 after planning her own wedding (and finding her wedding dress at House of the Bride, of course).

While every bride is the star of the show in her dress, the Gown Girls can help her find “the one” to complement her style, body type and wedding theme.

Surrey Center (Upper Level)
493 Highland Ave, Augusta

(706) 736-6500

Wedding Dresses Augusta Bridal

Cindy Donaldson – Sweetly D Stressed

Faces of Success

As a single mom, Cindy Donaldson, owner of SweetlyDStressed, believes in providing quality work at an affordable price. That’s why she started the cabinet painting business in 2013.

To replace or paint existing cabinet doors in kitchens and baths, SweetlyDStressed offers a wide range of styles and options to elevate the rooms – and add value to a home – at a fraction of the cost to remodel.

Serving the entire CSRA, SweetlyDStressed has a five-star customer rating on Google. Cindy takes great pride in providing exemplary customer service.

(706) 306-3588

Kitchen cabinets redo remodel revamp Augusta

Katie and Tyler Smith – Rick’s Paint & Body

Faces of Success

For Katie and Tyler Smith, owners of Rick’s Paint & Body, entrepreneurship is in their blood.

The couple originally started a landscaping company in 2003 just before they got married and grew the business from the two of them to 25 employees. They eventually sold it and moved back to the area to learn the auto repair business from Katie’s father, whom they bought out in 2019.

251 Bobby Jones Expressway
Martinez, Georgia

(706) 868-9904

Paint and Body work Augusta

Andy Higgins – Meybohm Realtor & Vice President

Faces of Success

Born and raised in Augusta, Andy comes from a family of real estate professionals. A Realtor since 2007, Andy has been a member of the Presidents Club for multiple consecutive years. He currently holds the title of Vice President and has received Meybohm’s award for Best of the Best since 2013. When not showing or listing homes, you can find him playing golf, on the water with his boys, or enjoying time with friends and family.


REALTOR® | Vice President
7025 Evans Town Center Blvd
Evans, GA 30809

Office: (706)863-8218
Cell: (706)829-3637

Meybohm Realtor Vice President Andy Higgins

Pastor Matthew Moore – Community Christian Academy

Faces of Success

As senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Ministries, Matthew Moore has a multitude of responsibilities. After his arrival to the church in December 2013, he didn’t hesitate to add another duty to his plate.

In 2014 he raised the idea of starting a private Christian school in conjunction with the growth in Columbia County. Two years later, Community Christian Academy, a college preparatory school that serves students in grades K3 through 12, opened with 72 students.  Pastor Matt took on the role Chairman of the Board.

Community Christian Academy was voted the number one private school in Cyber City’s Best Community Choice Awards in 2023. The school also has plans to grow and develop athletic complexes and a new middle and high school building.

4594 Columbia Road
Martinez, Georgia

(706) 426-8881 

Community Christian Academy Pastor Mat

D.J. Williams – DJ & Co. Salon, Spa & Gifts

Faces of Success

Upscale yet down to earth, a session in the salon chairs at D.J. & Co. Salon, Spa & Gifts is like a friendly, relaxing chat that just so happens to leave you perfectly colored, cut and styled.

For 30 years, the salon and spa has stood in a category all its own. Along with being voted Best Hair Salon for 10 years in a row, D.J. has earned his place in the top 1/10th of 1% of all hair stylists worldwide, maintaining the accomplishment for three decades — and counting.

Whether you’re coming in for hair, lashes, spray tans, face and body waxing, microdermabrasion, facials, massage or other pampering services, D.J.’s is a stress-free zone where everything always is all about you.

139 Davis Rd, Augusta, GA 30907

DJ & Co Salon, Spa & Gifts