By: Roshanda Pratt
By: Roshanda Pratt
By: Shannon Shull
You sleep… you dream… and for those of us who actually remember our dreams, we are keenly aware that dreaming can be mysterious and mind blowing at times. Our dreams can take us to some pretty wild places, in some really crazy situations, and with some very random people. There are all sorts of dream decoding tools out there, but who’s to say what our dreams really mean? We can only guess at the meaning of our dreams. Sometimes it is clear why we experience certain dreams, while other times it is truly baffling where our dreams come from.
Why this topic? Well, I am a VERY vivid dreamer. I have been all my life. Through childhood and up into my college years, I was a sleep walker and sleep talker. My dear family and bestest buds have all sorts of tales they could tell about me! In my adult years, I’ve even discovered that I’m a sleep-emailer, too! Yes, one night a couple of months ago, I actually emailed myself in my sleep – I don’t remember a thing! Apparently, I picked up my iPhone and sent myself an email, which was short and perfectly typed, yet I had no clue what in the world I was talking about!
When I was pregnant with my two babes, WOW, talk about crazy dreams. When you’re already an incredibly crazy dreamer and you add pregnancy hormones to the equation, watch out! Early on during both of my pregnancies, before the ultrasound that told us what we were having, I had dreams about the sex of my child. Each dream was as clear as could be, and after I woke up I knew in my heart what I was having. Each time I was right on – truly amazing!
In my many years of dreaming, I’ve even developed a true connection to random people and even celebrities because of specific dreams I’ve had. For instance, I have a lovely and special bond with Brad Pitt and Garth Brooks. Yep, I do. Sure, they have NO clue about our unique connection, but it’s there! Though I’m from the South, I’ve never been a big country music fan and certainly didn’t know squat about country music singers back in my college years. But one night I had a totally random, weird dream about Garth Brooks. I won’t go into all the juicy details of the dream, but I saved Garth’s life and he ended up professing his undying love to me. From that dream on, I have always loved Garth Brooks. He’s the only country music star I adore. Remember the Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines album? It’s one of my absolute favorites! Yes, I will forever be a fan of his, and rightly so since I’ve saved his life and he loves me so much!
And I’m sure you’re wondering about my connection with Brad Pitt. Well, I helped save his life, too. Back in my early 20s, like with Garth, I was not a huge fan of the super hot and famous actor. Sure, I thought he was good looking, but I wasn’t gaga over him like most of my friends. I was typically drawn to less mainstream celebrities, like Stephen Dorff and Jared Leto. But one night I had this amazing, intricate dream about Brad Pitt. He had turned into a total bum walking the streets. With filthy, long hair and a beard, he was totally unrecognizable. In the dream, I helped who I thought was a troubled man who needed a bath and a meal. I took him home and the dream proceeded to move along like a full-on fabulous movie. I never felt scared or threatened by this strange, dirty man and even in my dream I kept thinking, what am I doing? He could be dangerous! But as I cleaned him up, he slowly became recognizable. He was Brad Pitt! He never said a word until the end of my dream. He was this human being who just wanted to be accepted for himself rather than his fame. It was so odd but so refreshing to help someone, and it certainly didn’t hurt that he ended up being Mr. Pitt!
Apparently, I get the vivid dreamer thing from my grandfather, my Pop, who was also a very vivid dreamer. So much so, that the rest of the family encouraged him to start keeping a dream journal. Every morning when he woke, he would write about the crazy dreams he remembered. One year my Mom and aunts even created a book of his writings, “Pop’s Dreams.” We all have a copy of it. I should really take note and start keeping a journal of my dreams. Some I know I will never forget because they are so special and mean so much to me. After the death of my Pop and my grandmother, Lolli, I dreamt about them all the time, and I still do from time to time. I like to believe it’s their way of saying hello and letting me know they’re ok. It is so lovely to get those hugs in a dream from loved ones passed! When I dream of those who have gone to heaven, it is such a blessing to spend time with them! I don’t mind that I don’t understand how dreams work, I’m just happy see loved ones!
Sometimes, those dreams have a real purpose. After my Lolli passed away 13 years ago, I had a dream that I like to think helped save my life, or at least drastically improve my health. In my dream, my Lolli and I were chatting on an airplane – it felt as real as could be – and she randomly looked at me and said, “I’ll bet you $5 to never smoke another cigarette.” I looked at her and said, “WHAT???” Then she went on to explain to me that if I promised to never smoke a cigarette again for the rest of my life, that she would give me five dollars when I get to heaven. Now, I was never a full-on smoker by any means, but I did go through phases when I was younger in which I would do it casually in a social setting. But, eventually, I could’ve become full-on smoker. I was a sick child that got bronchitis a whole lot, so the last thing I need to do is smoke, so I like to think that this dream was Lolli’s way of helping to protect me. And I’m very proud to say, I’ve not smoked a cigarette since that dream and I don’t plan on it, either! By golly, I’m gonna get my five bucks from my Lolli when I go to heaven!
Dreams are a wild wonder of life. Sometimes they’re frightening and tragic, other times they provide a lovely, welcome escape, or they’re a tell-tale sign of things going on in your life. I could write about dreams for days. I’ve dreamt of ogres and hunchbacks, flying over the ocean, hanging out with childhood friends in one of my childhood homes, defeating a bad guy with Thor and the Hulk, having a pet monkey, and dancing on Broadway – and that was all just in this past week! No kidding! Yea, I really need to start a dream journal. I could seriously write a book.
Do you have any profound dreams that have touched your life in some way? One of those dreams you will absolutely never forget? Please do share! It is indeed a fascinating topic!
By: Brady Evans
My mom used to call pizza the “King of Junkfood.” What she meant was pizza feels like junk food, it can actually be healthy, with bread and vegetables and cheese. I truly think your average pizza is decidedly not healthy, but that’s not a problem. Everyone needs some cheese and carbs every once in awhile.
This pizza might deserve the “King of Junkfood” title more than any other pizza around, though. I found some whole wheat pizza dough in my freezer (aka the black hole) and recognized that I had a pound of brussels sprouts ready to be used.
Most pizza recipes with brussels sprouts also contain bacon, obviously because the two are a winning combination. I ran across a vegetarian rendition of the pizza, and keeping with the healthy theme of the whole wheat dough, decided to try it out.
Are you scared of lemon on pizza? Don’t be. What a delicious surprise! The cooking mellows the flavor, but they retain their juicy bite and go perfectly with the cheese and veggies. Be sure to slice them thinly so they just sort of dissolve into your pizza.
Who loved this pizza the most? The Omnivore. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t be fighting over the lone leftover piece. By the way, the recipe is a Martha Steward recipe, so of course the Omnivore couldn’t resist cracking jokes about learning amazing recipes in jail throughout our dinner.
You can read about my new favorite pizza cooking technique here. This page also includes a wonderful pizza dough recipe.
Brussels Sprout Pizza (adapted from Martha)
By: Roshanda Pratt
I’ve been told that I have good penmanship. I should, after spending hours in my elementary years crafting the spelling of a very long name – 16 letters to be exact! I am from the old school. No smart board, just chalkboards where teachers had to draw the lines. No Internet, just the Encyclopedia Britannica. And, no iPads, just old-fashioned, khaki-colored paper to practice writing your name. I come from the simpler times of education. Wow! I sound like my parents. I should probably tell you I owned Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. (For all my 90s babies, records are what came before CD’s.)
In my generation, handwriting was important. It was mandatory. Recently, there is a lot of talk about eliminating cursive writing from the curriculum while still teaching children keyboard proficiency. In South Carolina, lawmakers are trying to ink a bill, which would call for instruction in cursive writing. Surprisingly, people want to know why?
As a parent, I very much want my children to learn cursive handwriting. In the adult world we are told to print and sign our name. Your signature is your own, unique blueprint – your identification. Have you ever looked at how people “sign” their name? Some use big loopy letters, while others scribble or use chicken scratch. However you do it, it’s yours and no one can mimic it, no matter how much they may try. But printing your name is simple, although we could probably debate that by looking at how some people write. Cursive handwriting requires a skill; a discipline. It shows a certain sophistication and maturity. I believe that to eradicate this skill or tradition from our children is to deny our children that unique identification.
I remember the day my teacher commended me for finally connecting my letters in my cursive handwriting. You would have thought I just signed the Declaration of Independence. But in my young mind it felt like independence. I was finally leaving the kiddie world (at least in my mind of handwriting) and joining the ranks of the “professional” adults of the world. I often think about that teacher when signing my name. Although I am complimented on my handwriting, my former teacher’s “rules” for writing script (as we called it) still ring in my mind decades later.
Now, will cursive writing make your child a better person overall? No, that is not my argument. But I do, however, think it will make them more disciplined in their work, maybe even have a greater respect of their own name. Often times we rid society of traditions just because the times are changing. Traditions still have a place in our progressive society, in the proper perspective. No one can seem to give me a good reason on why we should cross off cursive writing from the classroom dynamics. I say teach it and leave it up to the child to continue in its tradition once he or she gets older.
That’s what I think. I want to hear from you? Cursive or print – which do you prefer? And do you think schools should do away with teaching cursive?
Six Tips on Making Beautiful Bouquets
By: Mary Pat Baldauf
Armed with good intention, I joined Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, a thirty-day plan to “whip your home into shape, get it clean, organized and under control.” I lasted until Day Eight, when the weekend task was to “Clean Your Kitchen and Declutter/Organize as You Go.” It was just too much for a weekend.
One thing I did pick up during the seven days I participated in the January Cure was the weekly purchase of fresh flowers for my house. According to Apartment Therapy, “As simple as it sounds, the act of buying flowers for your apartment holds great significance and will heal your home on many levels. They are beautiful, they add life to the space, they help to humidify and cleanse the air.”
Yet with all of these are reasons to buy fresh flowers, there was no “Flower Arranging for Dummies” guide. I winged it, and through a process of trial and error, have created a few really nice arrangements. Recently, on Food 52, I saw some great tips on arranging flowers! (Where were these when I needed them?) Because they were such good tips, I thought I’d pick out a few of my favorites. For the full Food 52 article on flower arranging, click here.
By: Shannon Shull
I think we can all agree that we love the opportunity to support a good cause. Bake sales, raffles, dinners and auctions are all great money-raising activities that folks can utilize to support a charity, person in need, or specific cause. Not many things beat the feeling of knowing you contributed to helping others and helped to make a difference!
The latest money-raising craze is the rockin’ fitness dance party known as the Zumbathon. Whether or not you even know what Zumba is, chances are you’ve heard of or seen the word “Zumbathon.” They are all over the place these days! Practically everywhere you go, you see or hear of another Zumbathon. So what exactly is a Zumbathon?
A Zumbathon charity event is a Zumba Fitness-Party that is open to the public and raises funds and awareness for a selected charity (an organization, individual or community in need). These events can only be hosted by licensed Zumba Instructors who have been granted approval by Zumba Fitness, LLC.
So why are Zumbathons so popular? Well, who doesn’t like the combination of contributing to their health and supporting a good cause? And who doesn’t love a rockin’ dance party?! There’s a reason why Zumba Fitness has become such an international fitness hit… because IT’S FUN! So the idea of having a dance party to raise money is a genius move, if you ask me. Every element of a Zumbathon is doing good for the people involved – raising money, promoting awareness, increasing heart rates for good health, decreasing pounds and inches, and creating smiles by bringing people together. What’s not to love!?
As a licensed Zumba Instructor, it is a great honor to be a part of something so all-around positive. I recently enjoyed hosting my first Zumbathon and it was a truly amazing experience. After getting approval from Zumba Fitness, LLC, I teamed up with our fabulous sponsor, Gold’s Gym, and we raised money and awareness for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 100% of the proceeds went to the MDA. With support and planning help from Tammy Wallace with the MDA, David Spence with Gold’s Gym and my wonderful aunt, Susan McPherson, with the Greater Columbia Chamber, we were able to host the Midlands’ first Zumbathon to offer both Aqua and Land Zumba! That’s right, not only did we dance in the studio, we danced in the pool! Our Zumba dance party created smiles, worked muscles, and, best of all, raised money for an awesome charity.
So if you love to dance, love a rockin’ party and love to do good for people and your community, a Zumbathon is the way to go!
By: Brady Evans
Cinco de Mayo is coming soon. This is such an awesome excuse to eat Mexican food, which is one of my favorites. Enchiladas and burritos and tacos can get boring, though. (I must say, however, not SO boring that my husband and I didn’t just practically fight to the death over the last taco from the 18-pack I whipped up the other day).
If you are looking for a sort of American-Latin fusion dish to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, this is the perfect one. Take your favorite hotdogs and top them with the perfect arrangement of classic Mexican toppings and enjoy this holiday!
By: Elizabeth Webber Akre
Ok, I am not IN a brown box. But I am in love with a brown box. This past Saturday was my second delivery from Brown Box Veggies. I am their new biggest fan. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the “Veggie Girls” stock up a big box of fruits and veggies to deliver on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. They reach out to as many local farms as possible to grab what’s fresh and what is being harvested right now. Then, they pack the box FULL of what they’ve found and sell it to people like us for only $22! I couldn’t duplicate what I received for $22 in a grocery store, and the produce was fresher and didn’t go bad on me before I could use it all.
My first box was so beautiful, I almost cried when I opened it. Even my little one got excited helping me unpack. The box contained broccoli, parsley, tomatoes, spinach, kale, Carolina Sweet onions, squash, zucchini, pears, oranges, potatoes and asparagus. A true cornucopia. We used every bit of it with delight.
This past Saturday was my second go-round. Sorry that I didn’t take a photo of box #2- we dove in and never looked back! This time, we received Carolina Sweets, cabbage, collards, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, radishes, romaine, corn, strawberries, apples and dill. Lots and lots of dill. I’m talkin’ about two humongous bunches, each about 3″ around and 12″ long. My head is reeling trying to figure out what to do with all of it. This week might be the week I dive in and try to make my own pickles.
But, first, dinner. Of course, when you think of dill, one of the first ideas you have is salmon. Since my daughter is eating salmon (happily!), I’m cooking it every chance I get. I whipped up this dinner and we ate al Fresco on the patio. Now, my title makes some sense, huh? Salmon with dill sauce, sauteed pea pods, and yellow rice.
Here’s what I did: I salt and peppered two 6oz. (skinless) salmon fillets. I placed them on foil and topped each with some slices of Carolina Sweet onions and lemons and wrapped up the foil tightly to enclose them. I baked them for about 20 minutes or so at 350°. While that was happening, I mixed together these ingredients to make a sauce:
Then, we just drizzled the sauce over our salmon and devoured it! I’m a sucker for anything pickled, so I think I’ll add a few more capers next time. I have actually eaten capers out of the jar with a spoon before. (The first step is admitting it, right?) Thank you Veggie Girls for my jam packed boxes of loveliness. And, you may be the reason that I finally embark on this pickle making project. The idea of canning is a little intimidating, but I can’t let all this dill go to waste! If any of you need some dill, I can hook you up.
By: Katie Austin
By the middle of every week (sometimes by the end of Monday), I find myself looking forward to Friday, knowing that the weekend is almost here. Then, come Sunday evening, the Monday blues settle in as I prepare myself for another work week. I wonder where the time has gone and notice the weeks are moving faster as I get older. Even as I write this, I can’t believe we are almost to May! I begin to wonder how I can capture the Friday-feel-good feeling every day during the week. Wouldn’t it be great if every day were Friday?! Of course. But how can I bottle up this feeling so that I can spritz it on at the start of each day?
Then, it hits me! The light bulb over my head is aglow and I realize that I can feel like it’s Friday every day! How, you ask? All we need to do is change the way we look at those “other” days during the week. Yes, even Monday Now, I look at every day as Thank God For Another Day. Instead of being thankful for just Friday and being happy that I made it to the end of the work week, I try to remind myself that I am thankful each day that I wake up. I am thankful to have a job, a wonderful group of family and friends, and the opportunity to make each day one to remember.
I know some of you are thinking, “Katie, take off those rose-colored glasses!” But as I bring those rose-colored glasses to the end of my nose, I peek over the top of them to ask one simple question: if you knew today would be your last, would you feel the same way?? No matter what is going on in your life, you can find something positive when you look at life differently. Believe that no matter what happens today, if you are given another day, things can change. We should look forward to tomorrow! I am thankful even for the bad days, as I realize I am a strong person and that life events prepare us for future challenges. I wouldn’t have made it through my breast cancer battle without first getting stronger from my past struggles. You can and you will get through life hurdles, small and tall, when you believe that you can and when you are thankful for every day.
Life has a way of speeding up as we get older. I think we should pause often, be thankful, and appreciate each day for what it’s worth. Seize the day and make it one to remember!
By: Mary Pat Baldauf
Earth Day is the perfect time to discuss green cleaning, the growing trend of using environmentally-friendly ingredients and/or packaging for your household cleaning.
Why does green cleaning matter? Consider this:
• Some cleaning products contain ingredients that pose health hazards and/or harm to the environment.
• Cleaning products are frequently involved in home poisoning, many involving children under the age of five.
• According to the US EPA, levels of pollutants indoors can be two to more than 100 times higher than outdoors, and the number one culprit for indoor pollution is our use of cleaning products.
Contrary to popular belief, green cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or time consuming. Here are some quick and easy tips that you can start implementing today.
1. Look for products in containers that are:
• Minimally packaged
• Recyclable in your curbside or drop-off recycling program
• Recycled content, preferably post-consumer
• Large (a gallon instead of four quarts)
• Pump sprays (not aerosols)
2. Purchase products that you reuse instead of throwing away:
• Buy rags or cloths instead of paper towels and wipes.
• Use a mop, not one-use wet floor wipes
• Select a feather or static duster instead of disposable dusters
• Use a traditional toilet brush, not clean once and flush scrubbers
3. Look for eco-friendly ingredients like grain alcohol (instead of toxic butyl cellosolve), plant oils (rather than petroleum) and plant-oil disinfectants such as eucalyptus (not triclosan).
4. Avoid toxic ingredients such as nonylphenol ethoxylates, antibacterials, ammonia, butyl cellosolve, butyl glycol, ethylene glycol, monobutyl, chlorine bleach, d-limonene, diethanolamine and triethanolamine.
5. Be on the lookout for “greenwashing,” misleading claims regarding product eco-standards. There are no standards for words like nontoxic, eco-safe, environmentally friendly, natural and green. Read the labels and research products before purchasing them, and look for third-party certification. Also note that unless you compost them, biodegradable containers end up in the landfill, where very few things ever degrade.
6. Make your own cleaners with ingredients you already have in your cabinets. These cleaners are less expensive, safer and more environmentally friendly. One of the best sources I’ve found is Apartment Therapy’s 25 Green Cleaning Recipes for the Entire House.
Let me know what you think about green cleaning! Are you already using some of these tips around your home? If so, how do they work for you? If not, which one(s) are you willing to try? Do you have a tried and true recipe for green cleaning? Please share it!