Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Great Girl Scout Cookie Controversy

Who knew that launching a new Girl Scout cookie this cookie season would be so controversial, especially when that cookie is supposed to be a healthy cookie?

New among the Scout cookie line for 2013 is the Mango Creme with Nutrifusion, a creamy fruit tasting cookie with Vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and D. ABC Bakers, the company that bakes the Girl Scout Cookies, touts the mango cookie as a cookie that can be eaten "with health in mind."

The Mango Creme is considered healthy because of a key ingredient, Nutrifusion TM, a powdery blend of apples, oranges, cranberries, pomegranate, limes, strawberries and, yes, even shiitake mushrooms.

Unfortunately, the new Girl Scout cookie many not be the healthy cookie that the Scouts and ABC Bakers want, especially when you talk calories.

Compare the Mango Creme with two long-time Girl Scout Cookie favorites - the Thin Mints and the Tagalong. Vitamin-wise, the mango cookie has 15% of a daily recommended dose of Vitamin B1 plus a lot of other alphabet vitamins. The Thin Mint and Tagalong are vitamin-free.

But when it comes to calories, the story is different. A serving of Mango Cremes (3 cookies) is 180 calories. Now compare that to four Thin Mints with a calorie count of 170 calories or to the peanut buttery chocolate Tagalong with 140 calories for two cookies.

In today's world of battling childhood and adult obesity, calorie counting may be more important than having a small percentage of vitamins in a cookie. Cookies should be enjoyed as a treat, not as vitamin sources. Besides, isn't that what the Flintstone Gummies vitamins are for?

You can read more about the great mango cookie controversy at these news sources.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cavender Creek Grape Farm Wines

 Winery Owners Raymond & Donna Castleberry
On their way to visit some of North Georgia's more famous wineries, tourists have discovered Cavender Creek Vineyards, a little gem of a winery that's producing some of the area's better wines. Cavender Creek Vineyards, Dahlonega's newest winery, produces a line of white and red wines, including best sellers Donkey Hotie Red, Dulcinea White, One-Eyed Jack and Jack Ass Red wines.

While the wine names and the donkey-design bottle labels are whimsical, the wines are serious, delicious, and destined to join the long list of award-winning wines produced in the Dahlonega region. The winery's labels have become so popular that last year four of the ten labels sold out before the end of the season.

The Cavender Creek winery, about eight miles from downtown Dahlonega, is more of a grape farm than a vineyard, says the owners Donna and Raymond Castleberry. The couple, both retired Gwinnett County school teachers, hand-craft their wines, using an old fashioned approach. All the wine making, bottling and labeling take place in the wine cellar below the vineyards' rustic tasting room.

Built next to a centuries old log cabin, now guest house, the tasting room is at the end of a country road off Cavender Creek Rd. As visitors wind down the single-lane dirt road to the tasting room, they drive by acres of grape vines, including the hard to grow petit manseng grapes vines, and a equipment-littered, neighboring farm.

Once inside the Cavendar Creek winery, wine tasters can walk up to the oversize bar for a free wine tasting where knowledgeable wine servers pour tastings and provide detailed descriptions of the wines.

Off the tasting room is a large deck with a view of fields and woods. Here visitors can sip wine and look for the owner's pet donkey( the inspiration for the winery's unique label.) Also on patrol at the winery (and warmly welcoming guests) are the Castleberry's two beautiful white Great Pyrenees.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lessons Learned from the Carnival Triumph

A Few Cruise Packing Must-Haves
From the non-stop television coverage of the recent nightmarish Carnival Triumph cruise, one quickly realized that the passengers on-board just weren't prepared. They obviously hadn't packed the right stuff.

To help those Triumph cruisers plan for that free cruise Carnival is giving them (and perhaps help prepare others for an "Anything Can Happen" cruise), we've put together a list of must-haves to pack.

The Prepared for Anything Cruise Packing List
  1. Lots of granola and/or diet bars and a couple of cans of SPAM. (The SPAM is really not for eating. It's for selling. Think of the big bucks you can make on Day 3 of eating nothing but cucumber sandwiches.)
  2. Clorox wipes...packages and packages of wipes. You'll need them to wipe down everything you touch, especially the sewage on the walls.
  3. Two or three super sized bottles of sanitizers.(No need to explain why you need these.)
  4. Rope, duck tape, and a bed sheet (preferably white.) You'll need these in case you have to build your own tent if sleeping on the deck.
  5. Extra cell phone batteries, or better yet, a Sat-phone. You'll want to contact the outside world or perhaps call CNN with news updates.
  6. Checkers, dominoes, a board game and a mammoth flashlight. This way you'll have your own G-rated in-the-dark entertainment.
  7. A pair of stylish rubber boots. If you have to walk thru poo, at least you'll look good doing it.
  8. A not-in-your-phone camera with lots of SD cards. You'll want to take picture after picture, and, of course, sell them to the media when you dock. Or you might want to use those photos for your "I Survived the Cruise from Hell" tell-all book.
  9. Colored markers. These will come in handy for that SOS sign to hang on the ship's side. (This is where you can use that extra sheet you packed.)
  10. And disposable masks and a couple dozen of your own red bio-hazard bags. (You just can't be too prepared on a stinky, plumbing-doesn't-work cruise.)
But most importantly, should you ever find yourself on a miserable, Triumph nightmare cruise, remember your sense of humor. After all, thousands of other people are literally in the same boat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rare White Wallabie in Georgia

Photo by Shoot It Photography

No need to travel to Tasmania to catch a glimpse of the rare baby white kangaroo. Just wait until March when the North Georgia Zoo opens and you can see a mother white Wallaby and a still-in-the-pouch baby Joey.

The new zoo albino kangaroo baby, a rare site in any zoo, is approximately five months old and is just beginning to peek out of his mommy's pouch. When he reaches about seven or eight months, the zoo personnel will start bottle feeding him. Joey's arrival was announced officially last week by Access North Georgia

" 'We suspected there was a baby in there, but because it was cold, we didn't want to check. It was really when we saw the pouch move around. It was just within the last two weeks when the baby started sticking its head out,' " said zoo co-director Hope Bennett in an interview with Access North Georgia.

How rare are white kangaroos? Co-Director Tom Bennett reports that less than 50 albino kangaroos can be found nationwide...and the Georgia zoo has two of them! Sometimes referred to as giant rabbits, the albino 'roos are a common sight in Tasmania with a small population found at South Bruny National Park.

Closed now for winter, the zoo will open at 10 a.m., March 2 for a special two day event to show off their 'bouncing babies', including baby Joey. Through March, the zoo is open just on Saturdays but will open weekdays after Easter. North Georgia Zoo is located between Dahlonega and Cleveland, Ga. at 2912 Paradise Valley Road in White County.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dollar General Stores, They Are Everywhere

Here's a little tidbit you probably didn't know: Dollar General is the largest discount retailer (by number of stores) in the U.S. The money-saving chain has 10,000 neighborhood stores in 40 states. In 2013 alone, the chain plans 635 new stores, 550 relocations and 6000 jobs.

In the Dahlonega/Dawsonville, Ga. metro area, Dollar General has eight stores - count 'em...eight stores in and around Dahlonega and Dawsonville. Who needs to drive to a super big box store when there is a Dollar General literally just around the corner.

And besides bringing variety shopping and low prices to our neighborhoods, these local Dollar General stores mean jobs, and in North Georgia, we need job opportunities.

Another interesting factoid regarding Dollar General (a Southern company based in TN) is that the corporation is a strong proponent of literacy and funds the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. So remember that when you shop at Dollar General, you are not only saving dollars but, in a way, you're helping support adult literacy....and that's a good thing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Krispy Kreme, Where Are You?

Dear Krispy Kreme,
The news broke this week that Dunkin' Donuts is coming to Dawsonville, Ga., the Moonshine Capital of the World. When that store opens, Dunkin' Donuts will then have two locations near our home - one to the left of us in Dahlonega and one to the right of us in Dawsonville.

But where is Krispy Kreme? Why haven't you ventured beyond metro-Atlanta? Krispy K's are the mouth-melting donut delicacies that we North Georgia folks (in our heart of hearts) truly crave.

Oh, we Southerners love our Krispy K's, especially the originals - the gooey, icing glazed, best eaten 'hot' donuts. Don't know how many times when I worked in Metro Atlanta that I stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts to take into the office, only to arrive with three or four missing and tell-tell icing glaze on the side of my mouth.

On a recent trip to Cleveland, Ga., my heart skipped a few beats, when I spotted a band of high school fund-raisers selling boxes of Krispy Kremes at a highway intersection. Only a strong hand from the car's driver kept me from leaping out and grabbing a dozen or two.

Our love for Krispy Kremes is strong. When a member of our family lived in England, he walked miles to Harrods department store, the only place in London where he could find Southern fried, hot Krispy Kreme donuts.

So Krispy Kreme, hear the plea from thousands of donut loving North Georgians. Please come to the mountains. You've got lots of original glazed fans here.


A Devoted Krispy Kreme Fan

Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Burning - Can It Happen Here?

One fateful day in Germany - May 10, 1933 - university students burned books, thousands of books. Giant bonfires were fueled by works from such legendary authors as Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway and Sigmund Freud.

The book burners were 'cleansing' Nazi society from books that didn't meet the requirements of German spirit.

Could book burning happen here? Sometimes I wonder when I people urge libraries or book stores not to display, rent or sell books that those people don't like. Many years ago in Gwinnett County, D&B fought back when a mother demanded that a book by Judy Blume be banned from all Gwinnett school libraries.

Our daughter had read that book - after we reviewed it and okay-ed it (which is the role of a parent). Interestingly, the woman who led a media campaign for the Blume book banning had never read the book. She had just heard it wasn't appropriate.

It's this type of "I don't like this book so get rid of it" attitude that is the cursor to book burning and controlling what people read and how they think.

This type of control could result in book burning here, just like in Germany. To learn more about book burning, plan to see the traveling exhibit, Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings, at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga. Produced by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the exhibit is on display until March 15, 2013. A lecture series accompanies the exhibit.

For more information, call 706-364-1520.