We started a new weekly feature here at LakeOconeeHealth.com. Each week, we’ll profile a resident of the Lake Country region.
This week, we introduce you to Andrea Cassell.
Andrea Cassell (pronounced “castle”) was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader and a former Mrs. Kansas. Andrea graduated from Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s in Special Education and took graduate classes in Child Psychology at Wichita State University. She taught special education for more than 30 years and is passionate about special needs children, which influences her writing.
Andrea is the author of three children’s books: Kibby the Space Dog, Kibby Gets a Little Sister, and Kibby and Olive Move to Georgia, which will be released in July 2020 by Mascot Books. All three titles received the international Mom’s Choice® Gold Award.
Her books help children learn about life and its adventures through Kibby, her miniature white labradoodle, with gentle humor and sensitivity. She is also a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Atlanta Writers Club, and the Georgia Writers Association.
Andrea was gracious enough to respond to our questions below.
LOH: Can you please tell our readers what you do for a living?
Andrea: I’m an award-winning children’s book author of three books in the Kibby book series. I’m also a cookbook author (Nahima’s Hands Unique Mediterranean Cuisine Cookbook), written in memory of my grandmother who lived to 101. I’m also a retired special education teacher.
LOH: How long have you lived in the Lake Country region?
Andrea: My husband and I moved to Reynolds Lake Oconee, Jan 2019.
LOH: Where are you originally from?
Andrea: I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I moved to Wichita, Kansas and lived there 38 yrs.
LOH: What do you enjoy most about living here?
Andrea: The Lake Country is so full of charming, beautiful areas to explore. The topography is so lovely. I love nature and I feel so at home here. The people are warm, supportive and welcoming. They make you feel at home as if it’s always been your home and they have know you forever!
LOH: Where is your favorite place to eat in the region?
Andrea: Honestly…we rarely eat out! I love cooking and creating different dishes. I’m able to cook exactly what my husband and I like. It’s therapeutic and brings a warm, comfort feeling in my kitchen.
LOH: Who are some of your inspirations in life?
Andrea: My inspiration comes from my parents who are 92 and 88. They know how to live life to the fullest and have such a zest for life! They are still in Florida and doing amazing!!
My four children inspire me everyday!!! They are incredible and I learn so much from them.
I also get inspiration from others who have a positive outlook on life and who never complain about things they don’t have and who aren’t defined by things. My dog, Kibby, is my inspiration for all my children’s books. He brings us great joy and inspires me to continue writing books for children, teaching life lessons.
LOH: Do you have any hobbies?
Andrea: I have lots of hobbies! I had a DIY, health, cooking and beauty TV show for 5 years in Kansas, called Cassell’s Corner. I loved being on the set giving viewers fun and new ideas.
I enjoy painting with oil and acrylics. I have my personal paintings all over my house. My family has many of them as well.
I enjoy decorating with things I find at thrift shops, goodwill and antique stores. I’ll repurpose them in a different way. I can switch them out around my house, so I don’t get bored with the same old stuff.
I sing and miss that a lot! I was also in a band in Wichita and really loved it! We had gigs everywhere.
I’m called the plant lady because I have lots of plants inside and out! Yay! They bring me sunshine on a cloudy day. I have an herb garden that I use for cooking.
Cooking is my main hobby! I like cooking and entertaining in our home and cooking for others. Hopefully we can get back to that!
LOH: What does a healthy day look like for you?
Andrea: My Healthy day is filled with water, water, water! I hydrate all day and never drink carbonated drinks or sodas.
I’ll have wine a couple times a week and enjoy that with a specific dish I make. I walk a lot with my dog, Kibby, and stay active most of the day.
Sometimes I take a 30 minute nap and that gets me going for the rest of the night. I’m 64 years old and naps are so important. I take vitamins daily and stay on top of my yearly medical appointments.
We eat well and that’s another reason why I cook. I’m in control of what I put in my food, such as sodium, preservatives, etc.
Staying busy and being creative is also good for mental health. When you like what you do and are passionate about your work, it creates positivity. Mental health is just as important! I practice gratefulness daily!
I use a diffuser in my house and add different oils everyday. That brings clarity to my day!
LOH: Anything else you’d like the readers to know about yourself or living in the Lake Country region?
Andrea: We are so blessed to be living in such a wonderful place with some of the most remarkable people. I want to continue to lift others up and touch their life with positivity and kindness. We are lucky to be in such a supportive community, where giving back to others, isn’t just talk!
More about Andrea:
Andrea’s first book was Nahima’s Hands: Unique Mediterranean Cuisine Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from her grandmother, as well as original recipes from Andrea, who is an accomplished cook and entertainer. She taught cooking classes for several years; food, family, and friends remain an important part of her life.
Andrea was inspired to write her first children’s book, Kibby the Space Dog, after she noticed how people treated Kibby differently after a trip to the vet.
“Passersby would always greet Kibby and interact with him,” said Andrea. “When Kibby was wearing the ‘cone of shame,’ people ignored or avoided him. It reminded me of how people would react to my special education students. I was inspired to write a book about not judging others for the way they look or just because they look different.”
In Wichita, Kansas, her home before moving to Georgia, Andrea hosted her own weekly TV segment called “Cassell’s Corner” on KSCW and KWCH, a CBS affiliate. The show included cooking tips, recipes, DIY projects, health and beauty, and more.
Andrea is also a professional vocalist who has performed all her life. She sang at the Miss USA pageant, and has performed jingles, voice overs, and commercials on radio and TV. She was lead singer in a popular Kansas cover band.
Today, Andrea lives in Reynolds Lake Oconee, Ga. with her husband and Kibby, the white, miniature labradoodle who inspires her children’s picture books. She and Kibby love to visit schools; she also presents to adult organizations on diverse topics such as public speaking.