Like a Christmas miracle, one day out of the blue a 10-foot-tall cross adorned with sparkling lights appeared — seemingly floating over the lake by Thompson Bridge Road near Gainesville First United Methodist Church.
As mystical as it seems, the appearance is no miracle — it was the brainchild of Dick Huff.
"I’ve been working on the idea for some time," said Huff, a church member.
"With the help of a few church members, we were able to build and erect it."
The concept for the cross was born as much out of necessity as creativity.
"The main reason for the cross is to identify where the (church’s) dock is. We have lakeside services several times a year, but there was no way to identify where the church’s cove is," said Huff.
"A lot of time people come by boat to the church and if they aren’t familiar with the area and where the church is by the lake then they wouldn’t know where the dock is."
The cross was strategically erected last week, just in time to herald Christmas.
"This is a special time of year — the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ," Huff said. "I thought it would be a beautiful sight to have the cross there now."
In order to make the project happen, Huff says it took a lot of assistance from family, friends, church members and church staff. As much planning as it required, church senior pastor Terry Walton says Huff’s hard work paid off.
"What excited me the most was seeing someone have the passion to do something like this — to envision it in their mind and to then see it become a reality. What a real joy to see how it all came together," Walton said.
"I’m really proud of them."
Both Huff and Walton say that the community’s response to the lighted cross has been overwhelmingly positive. And as many residents sit around their Christmas trees, enjoying the gifts that they have received, Walton says he hopes that the cross serves as a reminder of the true reason for this holiday season.
"I hope when people see it that it causes a moment of holy pause," said Walton. "I hope they remember that it started in a manger — that lead to a cross and then an empty tomb. I hope it puts everything into context."
Ralph Lauren does country chic like no one else! Look a these pictures of his new line Indian Cove Lodge inspired by the beauty of the Great Adirondacks lodges. I would order every room for my house on the lake, including the dogs! Just imagine the New Year's Eve menu over in Lindaraxa's Garden served at this table... pure Nirvana!
...and brunch on New Year's Day!
We can all dream, n'est ce pas? and who knows, maybe someday we'll win the lottery!
13 years ago a Canadian tradition moved south to Lake Lanier. The Lake Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club started with a Canadian coach Tony Hall who thought it would be fun to copy the real Canadian Polar Bear Plunge, where people cut a hole in the ice and jump through.
60 brave people attended that first New Years Day event and 13 years later organizers expect over 200.
The next installment of the Polar Bear Swim is at 2 p.m. on January 1 and is being held at the Olympic Venue at Clarks Bridge Park .
The event is a fun way to start the year but is also a fund raiser for the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club . The event raises several thousand dollars each year to pay the club's bills and support young athletes.
Gainesville's Polar Bear Swim has been held in a variety of weather over the years. Sometimes temperatures have been warm and around 60, while other times more normal, in the 40s and 50s. One year when there was actually a thin layer of ice on the lake when it came time to jump.
Jumpers can enter various competitions including best costume and best jump.
Reprinted from lakelanier.com
Photo: National Geographic
Caviar, lobster, and truffles? That's so 1999. Still, you want to celebrate making it through the oughts. This hors d'oeuvres menu for sixteen does it in style without going overboard. The five appetizers coax big flavors out of inexpensive ingredients (like caramelized onions) while putting the spotlight on splurge items (like shrimp). To keep your booze budget in check, choose one signature cocktail like these not-too-sweet, not-too-dry rosemary gin fizzes, and round it out as needed with beer and wine.
To serve 16, you'll need to double the spinach dip and toast points, and make additional cocktails (though one batch of rosemary syrup should be enough). The shopping list reflects the scaled-up amounts.
Poached Shrimp with Spicy Mayo and Garlic Breadcrumbs
If you want a simple appetizer for New Year's or a simple light lunch year round, this is it!
Serves 8 – 10
2 tbsp. white peppercorns
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. caraway seeds
2⁄3 cup kosher salt
1⁄3 cup sugar
2-lb. center-cut, skin-on salmon filet
1 cup dill sprigs, plus 1/3 cup chopped dill
1⁄4 cup aquavit (optional)
1. In a small food processor, pulse peppercorns, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds until coarsely ground; combine with salt and sugar. Stretch plastic wrap over a plate; sprinkle with half the salt mixture. Place salmon filet on top, flesh side up. Cover with remaining salt mixture, dill sprigs, and aquavit.
2. Fold plastic wrap ends around salmon; wrap tightly with more plastic wrap. Refrigerate the fish on the plate for 48–72 hours, turning the package every 12 hours and using your fingers to redistribute the herb-and-spice-infused brine that accumulates as the salt pulls moisture from the salmon. The gravlax should be firm to the touch at the thickest part when fully cured.
3. Unwrap salmon, discarding the spices, dill, and brine. Rinse the filet under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cover a large plate with the chopped dill. Firmly press the flesh side of the gravlax into the dill to coat it evenly.
4. Place gravlax skin side down on a board. With a long, narrow-bladed knife (use a granton slicer if you have one; the divots along the blade make for smoother, more uniform slices), slice gravlax against grain, on the diagonal, into thin pieces. Serve with mustard–dill sauce or on knäckebröd with minced onion. Refrigerate any remaining gravlax, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 weeks.
Mustard Dill Sauce
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
1. Whisk together dijon mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil until smooth.
2. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk heavy cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream and dill into the mustard sauce.
MAKES 2⁄3 CUP
This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #112
A delicious variation on eggs Benedict features crispy hash brown patties in place of the traditional English muffins. Use a handheld grater to coarsely shred the potatoes.
2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 tsp. cornstarch
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 egg yolks
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbs. minced fresh chives
12 slices Canadian bacon, cooked until lightly browned and kept warm
12 poached eggs
Rinse the potatoes, drain and pat dry. In a bowl, combine the potatoes, cornstarch, salt and black pepper. In 10-inch fry pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Working in batches, form the potato mixture into 1/4-cup patties and drop them into the oil. Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in a 250°F oven.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice and 2 tsp. water. Transfer to a double boiler set over medium-low heat, until the water is just simmering inside the double boiler. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, then remove from the heat and whisk for 1 minute more. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne. Whisking constantly, slowly stream in the melted butter until incorporated, then whisk in the chives. Keep the hollandaise sauce warm.
Place 2 hash brown patties on each plate. Top each patty with 1 slice of Canadian bacon, 1 poached egg and a spoonful of the hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
If you are in a small town this holiday season, or anywhere you can't find prepared chestnuts in a jar, don't despair! Fresh chestnuts are in the produce department of most supermarkets. Roasting them and preparing them for a recipe is a cinch. Just follow these simple steps!
1. Using a small, sharp knife or a chestnut knife, score, or shallowly cut, an X on one side of each nut. Be careful not to cut through the nutmeat.
2. To roast the chestnuts in the oven: Lay the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet, and roast in a 350°F oven until the nuts are fragrant and the scored portions begin to separate from the shells, 15 to 20 minutes. (If you're going to eat the chestnuts plain, increase the heat to 400°F and bake until the shells give slightly when pressed with oven mitt-protected fingers.)
3. To roast the chestnuts in a chestnut pan: Heat the pan over medium-low heat and add the chestnuts. Cook, tossing the chestnuts frequently, until the shells crack and the chestnuts are cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes over a gas flame burner, 35 to 40 minutes over an electric or conduction burner.
4. Transfer the nuts to a platter or heatproof surface and cover with a damp kitchen towel to keep them warm.
5. Using a kitchen towel or pot holder, pick up each nut and, with your fingers or the knife, peel back the scored X. Peel off the hard outer shell and the thin, beige, soft inner skin. Discard any nuts that, once peeled, look dried out.
6. Eat the chestnuts immediately or use as directed in a recipe.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Kitchen Companion
Cooks Note: To prepare them the French way, after roasting and peeling, boil them in water or chicken bouillon until tender (Jacques Pepin)
Lake Sidney Lanier
by Robert David Coughlin
Hardcover, 400 pages
December is usually a quiet news month of the lake, so we've some news to get you through the winter. We're proud to have released the only book about Lake Lanier. "Lake Sidney Lanier" by Robert David Coughlin tells the story of our lake in 400 fascinating pages. The book's subtitle is "A Storybook Site", chosen after the author read a story about how perfect the location was for a lake.
In 1946, Army engineers surveyed a narrow river valley at the boundary of Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties. Mason J. Young, then South Atlantic Division Chief, looked out over the open expanse from one hillside to the next and exclaimed:
"This is a storybook site for a dam ... I don't think I've ever seen a better site!"
The construction of Lake Lanier spanned nearly the entire decade of the 1950s. In the book you'll experience the development of North Georgia from the early 1800s to the sweeping post-war river and harbor legislation of the 1940s and on to the building of the lake itself, including the acquisition of over 50,000 acres of private land for public use; the ground breaking in 1950; construction of the dam, bridges and highways.
This book details the history of Lake Lanier using over 700 historical and contemporary photographs, official documents and letters, newspaper articles, maps, interviews and more.
Without question, 2009 was the most eventful in Lake Lanier's history.
That seems an extravagant claim until you sit down and look back over the events that have shaped the year. That's what we will do in this special article:
This time last year, Lake Lanier was in a perilous state. Several years of drought had left the lake hovering around 20 feet below full pool and flirting with record lows. The 1071 Coalition had been formed to fight for a rise back toward full pool but businesses and locals were desperate for better times.
The tide finally turned about a year ago today and by mid-January the lake had risen 4.5 feet in one month. It was to be a precursor of more to come.
Also in this month, Sonny Perdue announced that the Forrest Wood Cup was coming to Lake Lanier in 2010. Called the "Super Bowl of Fishing" it promises to bring tens of thousands of visitors to Lanier along with international media coverage. Some were nervous about the state of the lake, but with rising levels daytime fishing tournaments were allowed back.
April / May
By spring, things were looking up and despite the objections of local lake advocates, the Corps of Engineers felt comfortable increasing water flows out of Lake Lanier. The majority of boat ramps were now open.
In two other pieces of good news, the Corps received $8.3 million in federal stimulus money to improve facilities at Lake Lanier and an agreement was reached to make Don Carter Park into Lake Lanier's Second State Park
This was a month that will reverberate around the whole south-east for years to come. Lake Lanier was placed at the center of the "Tri-State Water Wars" by a court case in Jacksonville. A federal judge ruled that Atlanta didn't have the legal right to withdraw water from Lanier. With slim to no chance of reversing that decision in Congress or the courts, Georgia had to sit down and negotiate with Alabama and Florida. Towards the end of the year, a meeting between the governors of the three states offered glimpses of an agreement, but stay tuned ... this story will have a profound long-term impact on our state.
Lake Lanier water levels soared with heavy rain that also caused damaging floods downstream. Lanier was back in the national and international spotlight with detailed coverage from thousands of newspapers and TV stations. The Corps of Engineers had to fight criticism that they let too much water out the lake during the floods.
A huge number of events took place in September including the Lake Lanier Association Shore Sweep , Dragon Boat Festival and the Grass in the Grove Bluegrass Festival. Several other events returned to the lake this year after having been cancelled due to low water levels . They included the Lake Lanier Poker Run and the UYC Parade of Lights. There were also a good number of triathlons on the lake in 2009, prompting talk that the area could market itself as a destination for triathletes.
Full Pool! Lake Lanier finally hit full pool after a wet fall. Lanier reached that level at 9 a.m on Wednesday October 14th.
Also this month, the last dock permits ever to be given out were awarded via a live online lottery.
November / December
The lake has spent most of the last two months over full pool as the wet fall became a wet winter. After the last few years, no-one around Lake Lanier will be complaining if we enter 2010 over that all-important 1071 foot mark.
Plaid seems to be all the rage as far as Christmas decorations are concerned this year. From Ralph Lauren to Williams Sonoma, to Eddy Ross, plaid is the new red when it comes to decorating your holiday table!
You can get pretty white and red or red glass plates at Target, just like I did for my fancy Christmas table a few years ago, and you are all set for a casual, politically correct look this year!
I'm giving away a free gift to one of my readers in my main recipe blog, Lindaraxa's Garden, in appreciation for his or her support this year. Even though My Kitchen By The Lake was started just recently, you are all part of my community of avid gourmets and friends and I want you to be a part of this contest. One of the gifts is from Paula Dean Cookware and the other from Le Creuset. So make haste and check it out! Lucy and I are waiting for you in Lindaraxa's Garden to give you this free gift!! Seriously, free, no catch!
This contest is for the Lindaraxa's Garden site. Please do not make any comments here, they will not qualify!
A drawer, some fleece, and fiberfill for Fido
by Matthew Mead
Oscar, designer Matthew Mead's Yorkshire terrier, is ready for winter, with a comfy place to curl up in his free time. The fleece material is made by Polartec of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and it's both durable and washable. Drawer knobs keep his collar and favorite toy handy. Pets love to nest, and making a practical, comfortable bed for your dog or cat is fun and easy: Just add wooden knob feet to an old drawer and line it with a plush handcrafted pillow and fiber-filled bumper.
You'll Need: 1 cast-off drawer with knobs, sandpaper, primer, wood glue, 4 additional knobs (feet), black latex paint (satin finish), ruler, pencil, letter stencil, brown and gold acrylic paints, pattern paper, 1/2 yard dark-brown Polarfleece, 1/2 yard light-brown Polarfleece, 1/4 yard black wool fabric, 3/4 pound buckwheat hulls, quilting fiberfill
Step 1: Create the Box
Sand and prime the drawer. Affix 4 extra knobs to the bottom of the drawer with wood glue and let dry 24 hours. Paint the box black, let dry, and repeat. To personalize, stencil your dog's name in acrylic paints. (Use a ruler and make a light pencil line so that it comes out straight.) Let dry.
Step 2: Make the Pillow
Measure the box's interior length and width. Make a paper pattern and cut out two dark-brown fleece pieces to match. Place fleece pieces on a flat, clean table or counter, with exterior surfaces facing each other. Cut four pieces of black wool fabric, 3/4 inch wide, their lengths equal to the pillow's four sides. Fold each piece lengthwise to make an edge, and place between fabric pieces on four sides. Pin the layers. Stitch around the pillow, removing pins as you work. Leave a 2-inch hole and turn the piece right side out. Fill with buckwheat hulls and stitch the pillow closed by hand.
Step 3: Make the Bumper
Measure the box's depth (height), which will become the bumper fabric's width. Its length will be the sum of the interior dimensions of the box (length and width from Step 2). Make a paper pattern and cut out two light-brown fleece pieces to match. Place fleece pieces on a flat, clean table or counter, with exterior surfaces facing each other. Cut two pieces of black wool fabric, 3/4 inch wide, their lengths equal to the bumper's long sides. Fold each piece lengthwise to make an edge, and place between fleece pieces on their long sides. Pin and stitch as in Step 2. Stuff lightly with fiberfill and stitch it closed. Now line the box with pillow and bumper as shown in the photo, above, and place a treat inside to entice your furry pal to explore his or her new bed. Home sweet home!
For more home projects, go to: matthewmeadstyle.com
Reprint from Yankee Magazine January/February 2009
The News Service of Florida
Posted: 5:51 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, 2009
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist on Tuesday will meet with the governors of Alabama and Georgia as the states again begin to discuss the future of the water that flows through the Chattahoochee and Flint river systems down into the Florida Panhandle and Apalachicola Bay.
The meeting, in Montgomery, Ala., is the first in about two years that Crist, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue have had in person on the long-running dispute over how the water is to be shared, and the first high level talks between the states since a July court ruling that, in effect, put a three-year timeline on solving the dispute.
The headwaters of the system are in the Atlanta area at Lake Lanier, which holds drinking water for the ever-growing metropolis . Since 1990, Alabama and Florida have argued in a series of court cases that Atlanta's water use has deprived downstream users of adequate water flow.
In Alabama, the water is needed for power generation. In Florida, where the Chattahoochee becomes the Apalachicola River, heavy flows are needed to feed fresh water into Apalachicola Bay for a healthy seafood industry.
The Montgomery meeting follows the release last week of a report by a Georgia task force that found that options besides continuing to use Lake Lanier as Atlanta's main drinking water source are too expensive in the short term. The Georgia governor's Water Contingency Task Force said that if some other way of quenching Atlanta's drinking thirst were pursued, it would increase water rates too much, leading Perdue to say that Georgia will push to keep the lake as the region's main source of water.
The three states have until July 2012 to figure out how to divvy up the water. That deadline came from a court ruling in July in which Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson ordered a solution to the dispute within three years. If the three states and Congress don't work it out, the allocations for each will revert to 1970s levels that would leave Atlanta, having quadrupled in size in the intervening three decades, in a major water deficit.
Magnuson also barred any increase of drinking water withdrawals from the lake without the consent of Florida and Alabama.
John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, and the co-chair of Georgia's water task force, said in a statement last week that the federal timeline is too short – and if the state just had a few more years, something could easily be figured out.
"While we cannot close the water gap by 2012, there are additional contingency options that can be implemented by 2015 and 2020," Brock said. "Emergency solutions are extremely costly, but having a few more years opens up a whole range of additional possibilities."
It's not clear whether staff talks have already re-started – officials in Florida have kept things close to the vest. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state's lead agency on the issue, also didn't shed much light on where things are, but released a statement outlining its desire for continued negotiations.
"While we can't speculate on the outcome of a meeting that has not yet occurred, the best possible solution is one that can only be brought about by cooperation and brings into consideration the needs of all three states," DEP said in the statement. "Florida has always been ready to negotiate, in good faith, a fair equitable sharing of the waters in the basin. We remain committed to doing so."
Perdue has made it clear that Georgia won't simply accept the federal remedy and also wants to continue to pursue talks with his neighbors.
"I have always believed that a negotiated settlement that protects the rights and resources of all three states is the most lasting solution," Perdue said in a letter to Crist and Riley earlier this year, calling for the three governors to get together.
Santa and the reindeers would appreciate these for the long ride back to the North Pole!
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
FOR DECORATING REINDEER COOKIES
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sanding sugar
26 white-chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup)
16 red mini candy-coated chocolates
5 small white gumdrops
Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl; set aside.
Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes; mix in spices and salt. Mix in egg and molasses, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined. Divide dough in half; pat into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
To make puzzles, cut rolled dough into six rectangles, each 6 by 9 inches (reroll scraps once). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Bake until cookies are set and edges are just starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. While cookies are hot, use a pizza cutter or paring knife to cut out desired puzzle shapes. Carefully lift edges of parchment to keep puzzle pieces together; transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Fit a pastry bag with a 5/16-inch plain round tip (such as Ateco #3); fill with 1/2 cup untinted royal icing. Tie end with a rubber band; to prevent icing from drying out, stand bag, tip down, in a glass with a damp paper towel in the bottom. Tint remaining icing as desired; fill another pastry bag the same way.
Outline each puzzle piece with tinted icing; fill outlined area with more icing, smoothing with an offset spatula to make a thin layer. Let dry completely, about 1 hour. Keeping pieces together, use untinted icing to outline the shape of a tree (design should overlap all pieces); decorate area inside outline as desired. One at a time, lift each piece; sprinkle with sanding sugar, tapping off any excess. Let dry 1 hour; package in boxes, or store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
To make reindeer, use a 43/4-inch gingerbread-man cutter to make cookies (scraps can be rerolled once). For gift tags, cut with letter-shaped cookie cutters, and poke a hole with a straw. Transfer to baking sheets, and refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Bake until cookies are firm but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Melt semisweet chips in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly, and transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch plain round tip (such as Ateco #5). Pipe face and antlers with chocolate; sprinkle antlers with sanding sugar, tapping off any excess. Use white chocolate chips for eyes; pipe melted chocolate onto chips for pupils. Use red candy-coated chocolates for noses. Cut gumdrops lengthwise into 6 equal pieces; place one piece on each ear.
Last Saturday, on a very, very cold morning, we set out with the dogs to get our tree. This is the earliest I have ever decorated for Christmas but we were so excited to go back to the Kinsey Farm, none of us could wait!
So, what are we waiting for???
Are we there yet?!!
The Kinsey Family Farm
Nicely packed for replanting, but not for us!
Looks like everyone else had the same idea!
Oh Wow, where to start!
We got one!
Look at the nice ornament you get with your tree!
That family had an even bigger Xmas tree than ours!
I'm getting too old to climb ladders!
In late afternoon we are still pondering a plan of attack!
The finished product
These are the nicest people you could ever meet...can't wait to go back in the Spring!