SnowWorld is Hotlanta’s Coolest Holiday Destination

by Sara Levine


In Northeast Georgia, Lanier Islands and LanierWorld’s popular excursions and hospitality have attracted summer visitors for years. Now the gates won’t close just because the summer season has ended. This year, Lake Lanier’s new Christmas attractions and brand new SnowWorld bring visitors a classic white Christmas and wintery fun. SnowWorld boasts three huge snow machines that constantly blow snow throughout the resort, giving the feel and fun of real snow. Lake Lanier Islands Christmas will be open November 21 through December 31, and after the holidays, the SnowWorld attractions stay open through January 25.

SnowWorld offers something for every member of the family, with five speed slides with “icy” slick surfaces, a snowy tube slide with 13 lanes and four snow play zones. When you’re done on the slides, head over to the family-friendly restaurants, the fire pits for roasting marshmallows and the ice skating rink. Skating at the Coca-Cola Polar Rink is free this year with admission to the resort, and there’s no cost for renting the skates, either. And the fun doesn’t stop one the sun goes down. Visitors can either drive or stroll through light shows and visit the SnowWorld Village for shopping, carnival rides, games and more.


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collards 2008 006

If you had a traditional Southern New Year’s Day meal, odds are you had collard greens and black eyed peas to bring good luck in 2015. But collards are good for more than just luck – they are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber, and they have even been shown to help lower cholesterol. Since they are tastiest after a frost, they are available now at many local farms.

Basic prep: Chef Megan McCarthy from Healthy Eating 101 says, “These large leafy greens can be easily chopped and steamed or sautéed.” About five minutes should do it – don’t overcook!

Step it up: Chef McCarthy recommends sautéing your collards with salt, black pepper and a sprinkle of cayenne to give them a flavorful twist.

Find it: Truly Living Well holds a year-round market. This month, find fresh collard greens and other seasonal produce at either of their market locations: Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to dusk at 3353 Washington Road, East Point, GA, or Fridays from 2 p.m. to dusk at 75 Hilliard Street NE, Atlanta, GA.


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The scoop on what’s new around town

Statement Piece 

Asha words - breathe, cred Tim Coburn Photography


Atlanta-based jewelry designer Asha Patel knows that words hold power. Get creative and set your New Year’s intentions with one or more necklaces from her new “Words” collection. These 16-inch brass dipped necklaces come with eight different words and help you focus on conscious affirmations such as namaste, breathe, meditate and carpe diem.

Details: Available online and at exhale Spa, Ember, Form {yoga} and Evolation, 

The Best of Both Worlds

2014 Atlanta Track Club-Mizuno Contract

We’ve all heard that running and regular exercise promote a healthier body and mind. Before you reap those benefits, you have to have the most basic equipment – and Mizuno USA has it all. This sporting goods manufacturer recently partnered with Atlanta Track Club, the second largest running organization in the United States and host to the world’s largest 10K, the Peachtree Road Race. Mizuno USA is now the exclusive footwear and apparel brand provider for all ATC’s events.


Pay It Forward

LUV4wrd mobile app

During this winter weather, care for your fellow Atlantans in a fast and easy way – with your cell phone. LUV4wrd, a social media mobile app, helps users feel warm and fuzzy while providing literal warmth to the homeless through a partnership with FLIP Burger and Mercy Care. To participate, simply download the app and post a photo or video of what you “LUV.” For each post, FLIP Burger will donate 50 cents to Mercy Care, which will then provide coats, gloves, socks, blankets and other necessities to Atlanta’s homeless.


30 Days of Fitness

Here at Best Self Atlanta, we know it can be tough to tackle your New Year’s resolutions. To help, we’ve created a 30 Days of Fitness blog series. For 30 days in January, our magazine staffers will try a different workout each day and blog about our experiences. We’ll tell you firsthand what to expect from each class, details about the gyms and even basics like parking information and cost of a class. Reading each post will give you a closer look at your local fitness options and help you confidently take your first steps toward a new workout routine for 2015. Find the posts on the Best Self Atlanta blog today!


What the Health?


Whether you stick to a few favorite restaurants or like to explore Atlanta’s food scene, we can all agree on one thing: we hope each restaurant has passed its health inspection. Chris Peoples and Jake Van Dyke from Modern App Solutions, LLC, hope so too. To help you steer clear of any establishments that don’t meet your health standards, they launched the free downloadable app “What the Health.” It shows up-to-date health inspection scores of Georgia restaurants, hospitals and schools, helping consumers make safer, healthier decisions.

Details: Available through the Google Play and Apple Store,

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Jordan Church from Water Tek Direct is here to share his positive life changes as a result of his 2014 New Year’s resolution.

Church, Jordan_cred Vitra Fountain, Inc

What was your resolution? When and why did you make it?

I resolved to do three things in 2014: lose weight, launch an additional business venture and continue to follow my passion for positively changing lives.

When did you achieve your resolution?

On New Year’s Eve I had a huge “last supper” and planned on taking action the following day. Dozens of “last suppers” later, I finally got started in June. I lost 78 pounds in a few short months.

What helped you achieve your goal?

I started drinking ionized alkaline water. I had been on every diet from Weight Watchers to Atkins, but I would always plateau. With the ionized water, I maintained rapid and steady weekly weight loss.

What other positive changes have resulted from you achieving your resolution?

I became so passionate about the ionized alkaline water that I launched my own business and sell the water machines that produce the ionized water in homes.  I now educate others about ionized water and their own journey back to health.

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jessica shopsHappy New Year! If you have resolved to be healthier or less busy this year, I have a solution – and a deal – that can help. Start buying your groceries online via Elephant Grocers. Originally one of Atlanta’s premier organic groceries, they have grown beyond organics and now offer more than 2,500 items, including specialty and traditional groceries. New offerings include delicious prepared foods from the Elephant Grocers’ kitchen, farm fresh meats and cheeses, local artisan items like soaps and lotions, and even household products like Bounty, Windex and Tide. Online grocery shopping is convenient because the groceries are delivered to your door, making it easy to save time and eat healthier this year.

Throughout January, use code JessicaShops to get free shipping on your first order at

For more on Jessica, visit

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Dr. Jay Kulkin from WIFH Laser Hair Removal and Laser Aesthetics is here to share his positive life changes as a result of his 2014 New Year’s resolution.

Kulkin, MD, Jay_cred Jamie Annarino

What was your resolution? When and why did you make it?

In early 2014, I just didn’t like the way I looked or felt. I have been an avid jogger and exerciser for years but was getting tired quickly and having lots of pain. I ran into an old friend who had just lost 12 pounds by eating gluten- and sugar-free. I thought, “Why not give this a try?”

When did you achieve your resolution?

After a few weeks, some amazing things began to happen: my trainer could not believe the difference in weight-bearing exercise I could do and my endurance skyrocketed.

Had you tried and failed to keep this resolution before?

I tried it all! We’ve gone through the low-fat, low-carb and Paleo approaches without success.

What other positive changes have resulted from you achieving your resolution?

I am able to enjoy life to the fullest. I work long hours with my patients, and being healthier allows me to do better for them. My doctor has supported me coming off blood pressure pills for the first time in over 20 years. I don’t get heartburn and indigestion as I did before, and I sleep much better too.

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Written by: Juanita Rilling, Director, USAID CIDI

Effective Holiday Giving Blog Post

It’s no secret that gifts are a beloved part of the holiday season. From buying and wrapping them, to giving and getting them – the whole process is saturated with merriment.

Some of my favorite parts of the gifting tradition are buy-one-get-one sales (known as BOGO sales) featured by some stores during the holiday season. My home is filled with these freebies, from a colorful collection of sample-sized cosmetics to bags of flavored coffee to BOGO pairs of shoes; I love getting extra goodies from a single purchase.

And BOGO means more to me than just a great perk during holiday shopping. As Director of the USAID Center for International Disaster Information, I spend my year sharing with donors the best ways to support disaster relief, explaining why monetary donations provide the greatest value, flexibility and impact in recovery efforts – essentially serving as a BOGO donation.

What makes monetary donations such a great deal? In the hands of experienced, reputable relief organizations, monetary donations not only save thousands of lives following a humanitarian disaster like Hurricane Katrina or the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, but they bring additional benefits, too. Charitable organizations use cash donations to purchase needed supplies in proper quantities locally, saving thousands of dollars in transportation costs, supporting local merchants and contributing to economic recovery in affected areas. Local purchases also ensure that goods are fresh and familiar to survivors, culturally appropriate and, in the case of equipment, locally supportable so that they will be sustainable additions within the community long after the relief organizations are gone.

Around the holidays, most of us feel the giving spirit pretty strongly, which is a wonderful thing. In that spirit, it’s also good to remember that disasters can happen at any time, in any season – and when they do, being smart about donations ensures that people who are impacted receive the attention, supplies and support they need. Even tiny cash donations combine to achieve the BOGO magic, multiplying the value of your gift – no matter what you give.

In contrast to monetary donations, material donations only provide relief workers with one option rather than the power and flexibility of many options. Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania Katherina Rosqueta explains that food banks, for example, can purchase what they need for “pennies on the dollar” with cash donations. She estimates that they pay about 10 cents a pound for food that would cost $2 per pound retail. Feeding an entire family for $1 rather than providing a single can valued at $1 seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

At the USAID Center for International Disaster Information, we’re focused on generating awareness about how monetary donations to trusted relief organizations can achieve every donor’s goal of helping as many disaster-affected people as possible. Just as I’ll always buy the BOGO gift over its single-purchase counterpart, I’ll always give the $5 over the $5-worth of stuff because I want my donation to do as much good as possible. If you ask me, helping more people is the best free gift this holiday season and year-round.

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jurassic mix_cred Connie Horne

When winter temperatures hit, many grocery stores have to source their salad greens from warmer climates thousands of miles away. But now, thanks to local company PodPonics, local greens are available year-round. The company’s Lettuce Buy Local products are grown using hydroponics, a system of growing plants in water instead of soil. This method uses 90 percent less water than greens grown in fields, and it allows the plants to grow indoors, protected from harsh winters. Their pesticide-free, organic greens come in a variety of mixes, including the new Jurassic Mix that includes baby kale. No matter which mix you choose, their innovative approach lets you enjoy healthy, fresh greens even through winter.

Details: Available at Whole Foods, Kroger and Fresh Market locations,

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Blueberry_Pancakes_01Café Sunflower, which has been serving tasty plant-based fare to Atlantans for 20 years, has added a new offering to its Buckhead menu. On Sundays, the restaurant now offers brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with entree items ranging from $10 to $18. In keeping with the rest of Café Sunflower’s menu, brunch offerings are vegetarian, local and made from scratch. Try their Tofu Benedict, spinach crepes with sweet potato or some classic blueberry pancakes.

Details: 2140 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA,


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Jessica Shops Pick of the Month

Replacement basket pic

If you have trouble deciding what to give your friends, family and co-workers during the holidays, utilize the free custom design services of Rumson Gifts. Their experts can put together a personalized gift basket created specifically for your recipient. They offer hundreds of products, ranging from well-recognized brands to unique selections from local artisans. Their wide selection includes candles, artwork, clothing, home products, kitchen, linens, books and more. Once your gift basket is ready, it can be shipped anywhere in the United States or delivered via a courier service in the Atlanta area.

Mention JessicaShops, and 10 percent of your purchase will benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank through the end of the year.

For more info on Jessica, visit

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