Monday, November 24, 2014

DAC-ART Client Publishes Murder Mystery

Last summer, I had lunch with DAC-ART homeowner Patti Golden of the Biloxi, Miss., area and I was thrilled to learn that she has published her first murder mystery, "Secrets in the Vines," which was inspired by her recent two-year stay in Bucharest, Romania.

The book was released last month under Patti's pseudonym, Jane Golden, and it's available now in hardback, paperback and Kindle download from

I earned my master's in English/creative writing from the University of South Alabama nearly two decades ago, so I love to read and have been particularly excited by the prospect of propping my feet up and enjoying a little escape with Patti's Romanian mystery.  Since I'm also a fan of the "fermented" grape, it's only better that the story takes place in an old vineyard.

Besides her newfound talent for writing murder mysteries, Patti has also had a long, successful career as an attorney.  I'm proud to say she is a graduate of my alma mater and longtime employer, USA, in Mobile.

I've always known that DAC-ART customers were a special breed--intelligent, practical, forward-thinking people with excellent taste in architecture--but Patti's latest accomplishment is truly delightful and unexpected.

I've ordered several copies of Patti's book, but I'm impatient and started reading the Kindle download last night.  I'm including a blurb from Amazon about Patti (Jane Golden) and her murder mystery.  I'll keep you posted on any upcoming book-signing dates.  (See Patti's DAC-ART home at

Secrets in the Vines  

Jeni, the wife of a recently appointed diplomat, enjoys cultural intrigue and lasting friendships when she joins the exotic International Ladies of Bucharest.  But when Jeni volunteers to help one of those friends solve a mystery on an old family vineyard, she learns that trips to Romania's wine country can be deadly.  Two murders, with Jeni caught in the middle, have the police pointing fingers the wrong way.  Jeni must fight against the clock to solve the mystery before she is arrested or, worse, becomes the true murderer's next victim.

About the Author

Jane Golden lived only in the small city where she was born until she had the opportunity to spend two years in Bucharest, Romania, with her husband while he worked for the government.  A lawyer by trade, she spent her newfound free time in eastern Europe traveling, writing, and drinking coffee with her international friends.  Indeed, it was a two-year European vacation.  Then, as all writers do when given wonderful subjects and opportunity, she found a murder mystery in the vineyards of Romania just waiting to be told.

Another Great Holiday Read with a Romanian Connection....

Yes, friends of DAC-ART are truly talented.  Longtime friend Carolyn Haines, another fantastic Mississippi author, has contributed to a holiday book with a twist, Haunted Holidays, 3 Short Tales of Terror.

The book is available for Kindle download and will be released Nov. 28, 2014. You may pre-order the Kindle download now.

Coincidentally, Carolyn's Haunted Holiday short story centers around a cursed Romanian family heirloom!

Carolyn is an amazing writer and has published in nearly every genre--mystery, romance, horror, non-fiction, and literary works.   She also has a great sense of humor, and that comes through in much of her work.  This I can guarantee--you won't be disappointed.   Check out her website,  There's something for every reader.

This Mississippi author is also the recipient of numerous writing awards, among them the prestigious Harper Lee Award and the Richard Wright Award.  Very impressive!  She has taught creative writing at the University of South Alabama for many years, and I was fortunate enough to take a creative writing class from her.

Below is Amazon's description of Haunted Holidays, 3 Short Tales of Terror. You can get more information on Carolyn and her books at

Haunted Holidays, 3 Short Tales of Terror

Looking for a little fright to go with your fa-la-la?  Three thrilling horror writers--Lisa Morton, Carolyn Haines (aka R.B. Chesterton), and Laura Benedict--bring you three short, sharp tales of terror to liven up your holiday fireside reading.

The Christmas Ornament
By Carolyn Haines (aka R.B. Chesterton)
Homesick and stuck at Cornell University over the Christmas holidays, Clair and four of her fellow grad students accept Carlos Ard's invitation to spend Christmas at his great-uncle's isolated Victorian summer home deep in the woods. After a Christmas Eve feast, everyone settles in to hear ghost stories, but after Carlos brings out a box containing a family heirloom from Romania--a Christmas ornament that's so cursed that it cannot even safely be seen--the adventure becomes a nightmare from which Clair may never wake.

The Christmas Spirit
By Lisa Morton
In a last-ditch effort to save their troubled marriage, Elise and Ray decide to get out of London for Christmas and spend time together at the tatty, atmospheric Yorkshire cottage Elise has inherited from her Aunt Priscilla.  When Ray surprises Elise with The Christmas Spirit, an old book he's bought in the village, Elise reads it aloud, anxious to make their stay a success.  But the tale of murder and violence transcends time, reaching out for Elise and Ray, threatening not just their marriage, but their lives.

The Christmas Gnome
By Laura Benedict
Venus Hansen has a perfect face, a perfect house, a perfect husband and two perfect children.  When her mother-in-law in Norway sends them a shabby wooden Christmas gnome, Venus's perfect husband, Steffan, insists on surprising the children each morning before Christmas with some holiday-themed mischief that the gnome has gotten into, just like a certain elf that lives on a shelf.  Venus doesn't want to have anything to do with it, but when Steffan's pranks go awry, and the gnome starts telling Venus vicious secrets, Christmas turns deadly, and her perfect life will never be the same.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A DAC-ART Coastal Home and Crab Cakes

This is me last year interviewing "Mobilian of the Year" Dr. Samuel Eichold
at an annual gala held at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. 
After more than 25 years as a marketing executive at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, I decided to retire and take on the new challenge as marketing director of the DAC-ART Building System, a new storm-proof, maintenance free way to build homes using solid concrete "stone" masonry that combines both strength and aesthetic beauty.  (Check it out at
This year, I have had the extreme pleasure of meeting many past and potential DAC-ART clients who live in virtually every area of the country.  My experience has inspired me to write about it in a new blog.  In it you will see photos of some magnificent, yet extremely diverse DAC-ART homes, read some personal client stories, get tips on how to build the strongest and most maintenance-free home possible, and learn more about how DAC-ART creator Ted Dial can work with you to design a unique living space that suits your lifestyle and tastes.  I will also highlight a little local flavor from client hometowns, give homeowner design tips, share some of their favorite recipes and secrets to creating their ideal homes.

DAC-ART Coastal Cottage

I recently visited with DAC-ART homeowners on the beautiful Florida coast.  This coastal cottage has 3,500 square feet of heated and cooled space, with a roomy backyard veranda and outdoor kitchen bringing the total size of the home to 4,500 square feet.  The couple has become such proponents of DAC-ART, which provides them sound protection against Gulf Coast hurricanes, that they wanted to tell others about it in Southern Coast Home Design magazine.  The article below shows how DAC-ART components provide finished surfaces on both the exterior and interior walls without the need to apply stucco, paint or other finishes to it.  If the homeowner desires a different look, interior walls may be finished with stucco or framed-in with sheetrock.  Most homeowners love the natural "limestone" look of DAC-ART.  The article photos show how warm and inviting DAC-ART concrete "stone" walls can be in a home's interior.  

Scroll to the end of the "Home Design" article to get this DAC-ART homeowner's recipe for super moist crab cakes.  (You'll never guess the secret ingredient.)  Register to win a crab cake kit, which includes a $25 gift card from Florida's famous Joe Patti's Seafood, their recipe book, beignet mix, and a cap . You can use the gift card to order fresh seafood online.  To enter, visit and e-mail DAC-ART designer Ted Dial using the link at the bottom of his webpage.  Write "CRAB" in the subject line.  Only one entry per person.

This DAC-ART home on the Florida coast was featured on the cover of Southern Coast Home Design.   Photos of the home's interior illustrate how DAC-ART lends a touch of old-world elegance found in historic, solid stone masonry buildings.

The fireplace mantel was a custom piece designed by Ted Dial using DAC-ART.  DAC-ART incorporates many other decorative features including custom crown moldings, cornices, pilasters, columns and column capitals, keystones and even architectural art pieces sculpted by Ted.  (Use the "zoom" tool in your browser to enlarge the text in the article.)  Enjoy the remaining photos....

Super Moist Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

One of the greatest things about meeting DAC-ART clients is they all seem to have exquisite taste in food.  Fortunately for me, they often invite Ted and me to try some of their favorite recipes.

I don't know about you, but as someone who has grown up on the Gulf Coast, I'm always in search of the perfect crab cake.  Most of the time I'm disappointed because they are mostly breading and grease.  Our Gulf Breeze, Fla., clients surprised us by serving possibly the best crab cakes we've ever eaten.  The secret ingredient?  Eggplant!  Yes, eggplant replaces the enormous amount of breading that is typically used to hold crab cakes together. The end result is a super moist crab cake that may only be improved with a touch of lemon or dash of Woeber's Horseradish Sauce (another tip we got from our Florida clients).  Please enjoy the recipe below, but you may want to take a tip from me...don't tell your family (or dinner guests) that you're serving them crab cakes with eggplant.  Believe me, they'll never know.  I experimented with my own family.  And, I want to say thanks again to our DAC-ART clients in Gulf Breeze for sharing their treasured recipe.

See instructions above and register to win your own crab cake kit that I pulled together after a visit to Joe Patti's Seafood near Pensacola, Fla.  It includes everything you'll need except for the eggplant and crab.  There's a $25 gift card from Joe Patti's, which may be used to order their fresh seafood online.  The kit even includes a bottle of Woeber's Horseradish Sauce, the perfect companion to this crab cake dish.  There's also a cap and Joe Patti's recipe book.  A winner will be selected and notified on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, via e-mail.  All ingredients for the crab cakes may be purchased from Joe Patti's, or you may also find them at most major grocery stores, including Publix.

Super Moist Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

1 lb. jumbo lump crab
Zatarain's Crab Cake Mix
1 egg
1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup mayo
finely diced red bell pepper (if desired for color)
Woeber's Horseradish Sauce (sold at Joe Patti's and Publix)

Slice eggplant in half and bake at 350 degrees until done (approximately 40-50 minutes, depending on size).  Let eggplant cool, then scoop out the meat and chop finely.  Add approximately 1/3 of the box of crab cake mix to eggplant in bowl, along with egg, mayo, and the finely chopped red bell pepper (if desired).  Carefully fold in the jumbo lump crab.  Don't stir the mixture too much once the crab is added because you want the chunks of crab to hold together for better texture.  Form the crab cakes into patties and brown them in either oil or butter.  You may even mix some butter with the oil for taste.  I prefer to cook with olive oil, but canola oil is also good to use for this dish.  It takes only a few minutes to cook/brown the crab cakes.  Serve them immediately with wedges of lemon and Woeber's Horseradish Sauce.  (Serve the Woeber's sauce in a pretty dish and your family or guests will never know it's not homemade.)

Joe Patti's Seafood in Pensacola, Fla.  Online ordering is available at .  Notice that they serve fresh, hot beignets at a stand in front of the market.
This is one of the beautiful displays at Joe Patti's.
Our Gulf Breeze DAC-ART clients also served fresh October beans with the crab cakes.  As a Southerner, I was surprised to learn that there was a bean I'd not yet consumed, nor heard of before then.  They were served in a dish with chopped red bell pepper and fresh corn.  I was so excited about this newly discovered bean that I had to cook some for my own family.  I found the October beans and cute little pumpkin (in photo) at Bailey's Market in Pensacola, Fla.  Of course, we learned about Bailey's from our clients.

It's pretty difficult to miss Bailey's Market with this jolly green gentleman guarding the entrance.  Bailey's is home of the rare October bean.
Bailey's also has the largest, most exotic selection of pumpkins I've ever seen.  

Wishing for a pumpkin pie....
I wonder if it's possible to get this guy to stack DAC-ART blocks as neatly as he stacks his pumpkins?
I end my blog this week with one of my favorite Southern staples.  Nothing says fall in the South like a bright orange persimmon.  Yum!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Welcome to the DAC-ART Concrete Stone Homes Blog

My name is Renee Paul, and I am the creator of the DAC-ART Concrete Stone Home blog.  I write once a week about my passion for historic stone architecture and how you can achieve that same look and quality using the DAC-ART Building System, a method of building with concrete that has all the aesthetic beauty, strength and durability of solid stone construction. 

In my blog, I report on the latest projects and progress of DAC-ART’s creator, Ted Dial, who has worked for more than 15 years to restore the lost art of solid masonry architecture through his custom home designs which are built using his own revolutionary “concrete” stone building system.  

My blog followers have an appreciation for the old-world charm of solid stone masonry and are interested in building a unique, custom home that requires no maintenance and provides the best protection against extreme weather conditions and natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and fire.  

My followers are unhappy with modern building methods such as weak, high-maintenance wood construction and the cheap “cookie-cutter” look of concrete ICF construction, which also requires regular painting and upkeep.  They want a home that is unique and will stand the test of time, just as historic stone architecture has in places such as New York, Washington-DC, France and Italy.  

I have the goal of reaching more than 50,000 unique visitors a month in my quest to help introduce DAC-ART as the best alternative to the status quo of today’s construction industry—boring home design and the flimsy, “disposable” nature of the single, most important investment of your life.  Check out Ted's website,