Presenting Our Every Woman Blog Contest Winners!

Every Woman Blog

When we started the search for our new Every Woman bloggers, our goal was to select five wonderful women to join our current roster of bloggers. However, we received so many amazing entries that we had to raise that number to seven!

Below is a sneak peak at the women who will join our amazing group of Every Woman bloggers:

Jordan Tate: Hi! I’m Jordan Tate, wife to a Lexington Medical ICU nurse, adoptive mama, and infant loss survivor x2. My husband and I lost our first two children to a rare genetic disorder in back to back, full term pregnancies. Each of our girls lived for a few minutes outside the womb before passing away. We wrote about the whole experience on our blog while walking through it all, and four months after we lost our second baby, we brought home our adopted son in a whirlwind domestic adoption. I am dedicated to writing in a voice that is genuine and transparent, especially through the harder moments in life. We like to keep it real. I especially love to reach out to mothers who have experienced infant loss and second degree infertility, as well as families who are walking through the rollercoaster of adoption! You can check out some of our story here:http://tatesatsea.blogspot.com/p/us.html

Rachel Sircy: Hello all, my name is Rachel Sircy and I have been a Columbia resident for nearly seven years now and an employee of Lexington Medical Center for over six of those seven years. I am a joyful Christian, a mother of one, wife to one amazing man and a sufferer of celiac disease. I would be thrilled to be chosen to write for the Every Woman blog as it seems to me that a blog for women, by women and about issues that concern us all locally is a wonderful idea. We need a community of women to be a part of, to lean on and to share with.

Two things primarily take up my thoughts: one is the sacredness of motherhood and the wonderful privilege that I have been given in raising up a future citizen of this earth. I believe that women are granted unique and strong gifts by our Creator and I would love to explore and celebrate them with the women of our community.

The second (slightly less majestic) thought that consumes me is what my child and I are going to eat on a given day. This second thought would appear to tend toward gluttony, however, when you are a celiac (pronunciation: Silly-Yak), it is only natural that at least half of your waking life would be centered around finding suitable, safe food to eat. Celiacs, of course, are what is known in our world as gluten free. What does that mean, you ask? What gluten free typically means for a person diagnosed as a celiac is that you listen to celebrity news praying that some famous person will suddenly, unnecessarily and very publicly restrict their eating habits and that the public will soon follow. This, as any celiac well knows, will strong arm things out of Betty Crocker and Pillsbury – like gluten free cookie mixes, confetti cakes and other staples of a typical American diet – that the actual pleas of diseased people (i.e., real celiacs) never could. And so, I would like to reach out with any helpful information to the other celiacs in the city and, occasionally, cry and whine with them about the loaves of Styrofoam in our refrigerators that have been wrongly labeled as bread.

Angie Sloan: Hello there! I am new to the Columbia area and saw your blog contest advertised in the Irmo News. I am single mother who has been caring for three kids and two parents for years. I am the face of the sandwich generation! This post is about an experience I had with my mother while she was in a nursing home. Please let me know if I need to do anything else to enter the contest. Thanks, Angie Sloan.

Azure Crum Stilwell: Being an “Every Woman Blogger” would be an awesome opportunity for me. I just started my own blog (http://peckedbychickens.com) because let’s face it being a bipolar, overweight, pre-diabetic mom of two boys (ages 9 and 18) is both hilarious and tough so I needed a creative outlet. I am a bit sarcastic with a whole lot of funny mixed in. I come from a long line of wonderful women who have experienced just about everything you can think of from complete happiness to unthinkable sadness and yet we all get up every day and keep swimming. Sometimes we just float but at least we try. My personal experiences and those of the women in my life have helped me to already feel like an “Every Woman Blogger” so I know whoever you do choose is going to be great. Best of luck to all who are brave enough to share a piece of their story.

Ashley Whisonant: The beauty of the Every Woman Blog is the diversity of women featured. I would love the opportunity to share my point of view and experiences with the Midlands Community. As a University of South Carolina Graduate, former Alpha Chi Omega sorority member, mother to two rambunctious toddlers, and working mom, I have experiences many can relate to. I am lucky enough to have a SAH hubby who supports my full-time work career in the business world. I am obsessed with Disney travel and saving money while doing it! I am a social butterfly that loves to share my money saving travel tips with ANYONE who will listen! I am currently navigating the world of second boy potty training-not for the faint of heart! I would be over the moon if chosen as one of the newest bloggers!

Jeanne Reynolds: As the French say, I’m a woman “of a certain age.” Here’s why I’d like to be an Every Woman Blogger:

I’ve never been so insulted in my life. And friends, get ready, because it’s going to happen to you, too, sooner or later. It was the day I got that special envelope in the mail. The one with an invitation to join … AARP!

What?! I’m not old. I’m not even middle-aged. Hmm, pause on that. Anyone who’s at least 50 — and apparently AARP knows who you are, because that’s when this shows up — is, at best, halfway through life. The middle. Maybe that’s why my middle seems to be expanding.

And that’s not the only life stage-related change I’m looking at. With retirement now peering over the horizon, I’m starting to wonder about things like:
• Who will I be when I’m not a working gal?
• How will I keep the friends I made at work?
• Where do I want to use my experience and talents outside a cubicle?
• What are family members going to expect from me now that I’ll have all this “free time”?
• Will my outside and my inside ever be the same age? (I hope not.)

Maybe you have some of these same questions if you’re changing jobs, leaving the work world to care for family, changing relationships or becoming an empty-nester. Because they all boil down to one essential question: Who am I now?

Let’s find out together.

Stacy Thompson: To blog–1. a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Stay with me folks, I realize I started with a definition piece copied from a Wikipedia search on blogs, but I assure you, you like it or not, the rest is from my own hand and somewhat bizarre perceptions and ideas…

I have heard of and subscribed to blogs on various topics written by an eclectic and varied group of people–blogs on running, hiking, politics, health and literature–you name it, and I’ve been bewitched by the blog. But to write my own? Haven’t given it much thought until just now…

I am mostly informal by nature and love a good conversation, no matter the topic–so to have a forum to share my experiences, anecdotes and highly entertaining tales would be a ton of fun…really what is the point of doing anything in life if it isn’t fun, anecdotal and/or to gain experience? I am a long-time resident of Lexington County (grew up in the shadows of Lexington County Hospital, as it will forever be known to those of us who remember the location of not only the ‘old Lowe’s’ on Highway 1, but also the ‘old, old Lowe’s just down the street–and who among us does not miss the Cromer’s monkeys at Dutch Square Mall???) but have explored all seven continents. I am a lawyer working in her own firm but consider myself beyond fortunate to represent those unable to work due to their health; I am a huge fan of all sports but can appreciate the theater and arts (although I may refer to Intermission as ‘Halftime’ and bemoan the concession stand offerings–what? No corn dogs and ginormous soda that takes two hands and a spotter to lift??). I love to cook, but begrudgingly admit that casseroles and tailgate food comprise my meal plan. I occasionally run, but, unless being chased, can only call my pace Tortosian (not a word, but describes my turtle-like attempts). I am immensely proud of my mother and father but cannot deny the fact that my iPhone photo album contains many more pics of my dog at a ratio of about 12 to 1 (although he is pretty freakin’ cute!). I adore the written word and read voraciously, but will not hesitate to watch The Terminator, Roadhouse or The Princess Bride on cable, no matter at what point I channel-surf upon them and despite the fact I own them both on DVD (and Blu-Ray).

If chosen to participate in the Every Woman blog, I promise to deliver just that–random musings, memories and tales from an Every Woman–my travels and escapes from reality; the doldrums of daily life–stories of woman against machine (wait until you hear about my plethora of uses for duct tape), stories of woman against the system (stranded in Monaco and Moscow, each for entirely different reasons), woman against nature (i.e. times you wished that Bear Grylls dude would just permanently affix himself to your leg), woman against parent (my mom gets us involved in a lot of weird stuff–skydiving, bungee jumping and mostly anything involving the signing of a waiver) and, last of all, woman against self (may get somewhat deep, do you have a psychiatrist on staff?? Just asking…)

I’ll write to entertain myself and my close family and friends who will be compelled to follow the blog or risk bodily harm (just kidding, no bodily harm, but extreme stink-eyes and a refusal to make my beyond de-lish oatmeal raisin cookies for the next gathering) and to hopefully entertain others, or at least provide them with a guide of what NOT to do–or how to extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing situation if they do what they shouldn’t, or how to best talk themselves out of said embarrassing situation like a pro.

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this rather long missive — I wish the very best to all who apply! (But my competitive nature precludes me from wishing you luck, I’m sure you’ll understand!).

Sincerely,
Stacy


Congratulations to all of the women who have been selected to become Every Woman bloggers! We can’t wait for these amazing women to share their lives with us.

State Partnership Launches “Don’t Waste Food S.C.” Campaign to Reduce Food Waste

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Don't Waste Food SC

Just in time to end my food waste series, South Carolina just announced a new campaign to fight food waste. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, S.C. Department of Commerce and S.C. Department of Agriculture recently announced Don’t Waste Food S.C. – a collaborative campaign to reduce the number one item thrown away in the state: wasted food.

One out of six people struggle with hunger in the United States, yet food waste is the single largest component being sent to landfills and accounted for 21 percent (35.2 million tons!) of the nation’s waste in 2013. South Carolina alone produced an estimated 607,000 tons of food waste in fiscal year 2015.

Don’t Waste Food S.C. is aimed at educating and empowering individuals, businesses and communities to take action by preventing, composting or donating surplus food. The campaign is working towards a goal of reducing food waste in the state by 50 percent by 2030.

The partners are working together to connect food surpluses to those in need, enhance infrastructure for composting and educate consumers, communities and businesses about what they can do to join the initiative.

For more information, educational resources and to get involved in the Don’t Waste Food S.C. campaign, visit www.scdhec.gov/dontwastefoodsc. The website features great resources including tip sheets, meal planning + shopping lists, shopping guides and composting information.

 

To The Mom of the Little Boy in Church

By: Crissie Kirby

boy in church

I see you enter the church with him and his precious smile lights up the entire sanctuary. I see you settle him with a snack or drink or with books or coloring pages and crayons. I hear you quietly try to shush him during the service when he talks. I smile at you and think that one day I’m going to tell you how much I enjoy seeing him in service, but I fail to do so because well, most days, I’m busy watching my own boys who (most of the time) settle in quietly on their own, but still have questions or are involved in the service and are perched quietly at the front of the church waiting to light or extinguish the candles. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll get teary-eyed talking of the time, not so long ago, when my boys were doing exactly what your son is doing now. A wise woman used to tell me not to worry about the noises my boys made in church because she enjoyed seeing them there. Some days I would just smile and silently think that she had to have lost her mind when it seemed that something was being dropped every five seconds or someone was asking questions every two.

The old saying “with age comes wisdom” comes quickly to mind because now I understand what she was saying and why she told me to stop worrying so much. First off, you are doing your son a great service by bringing him to church and keeping him in “big church”. He’s learning from an early age what takes place during the entire service and how to behave during those times, even if it seems that it is taking forever for him to learn and you really question if he ever will. (Please no one get bent out of shape if you think I’m shaming you for utilizing a children’s church because I’m not – every family does what works for them.) You are exposing him to your family’s belief system and I applaud you for that. For me, though, I am grateful for those moments when I can see your precious son holding your hand as you return from communion, and remember my own two little boys who no longer hold my hand as we walk quietly down the side aisle from communion. I can glimpse my past in your little boy as one, or both, of mine participate in the church service, leaving me sitting alone in my pew.

So to the mom with the little boy in church, please just let him be little, let those of us around you soak up his innocence and laughter and questions. Allow us to quietly congratulate your decision to bring him to church, even when we fail to verbally tell you so. Allow us to remember the days when our little boys were the ones laughing and making noise and asking questions. One day, I promise, you will be in my position wondering where the days and moments went.

Dress to Impress Whom?

By: Chaunte McClure

IMG_2464Do you have friends or associates who are fashion-focused and expect you and others to be also?

I’ll admit, I take a liking to dressing neat and looking cute, but sometimes I miss the mark. I tend to dress according to my mood; therefore, I usually don’t choose what to wear to work the night before. If I’m groggy, sick or for some reason in a bad mood, I really don’t care about looking my best. Some days I just don’t feel like it!

I’ve had coworkers and friends who put too much focus on what they, and others wear. Not everyone wants to wear trendy, high fashion clothes and shoes or carry high-end bags. I’m perfectly okay with wearing clothes from Target versus Belk, Dillard’s, or any couture retailer. My purses don’t have to don Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade or Louis Vuitton logos. The $19.99 Wilson’s Leather handbag I bought this spring, which isn’t leather at all, holds my wallet, sunglasses, tablet and cell phone the same way the name brand bags will. And they’ll apply the same pressure to my shoulder and neck. (Ouch!)

The pressure to dress to impress others is stressful and can be hurtful. There are women who would rather save for family vacations or girlfriend getaways than their clothing wardrobe. Others just can’t afford more clothes and shoes.

Early on during my college days, I remember being humiliated because I didn’t have “the best clothes.” I barely had enough to even make it through the week. Boy was I grateful for those free T-shirts when I signed up for credit cards. However, I am still ungrateful for that plastic money.

As a working adult, when I was able to buy my own clothes, I still dealt with women who turned their nose up at me because of how I dressed. I typically dressed professionally even before I began my career. What I wore to work, I wore to church. I didn’t buy many clothes to wear outside of those two places, but that didn’t matter much because I didn’t go many places outside of the two.

We put too much focus on fashion instead of concentrating on finances, family, community, goals, and education – things (I think) that really matter.

I’m not opposed to fashionistas; I’m opposed to those who set a fashion standard for others. I dress to impress me – not my coworkers, friends or spectators and I do it with tact.

Are you fashion focused? Do you expect others to be also?

Green Thumb? Not Me.

By: Shannon Boatwright

My Mama's Beautiful Flowers

My Mama’s Beautiful Flowers

While doing a little gardening research online, in an attempt to try to learn the correct way to plant some flowers I’d gotten,  I came across an article stating that this whole green thumb thing is a myth. The author wrote about how there is no divine gift, no such thing as being ‘born with gardening talent,’ and that it is merely a learned skill that one has to hone. Basically the claim was that anyone can read directions, stick something in some dirt and upon the right conditions, actually grow something beautiful.

My Aunt Susan's Pretty Flowers

My Aunt Susan’s Pretty Flowers

I appreciate all the info that I read, but here’s my deal… I flat out don’t like gardening or planting anything for that matter. I have a hard time admitting this, considering the fact that a majority of the women in my family all have what one would consider green thumbs! I do believe that they were born with some kind of special love and talent for plants and flowers and keeping them alive and beautiful. I can, with confidence, admit that I DO NOT have a green thumb – myth or no myth. I do not possess that talent, was not born with it and I do not enjoy attempting to learn the skills. Maybe the talent skipped a generation or something in my family, but I feel like I am one of few southern women that has zero green on her thumbs.

My Aunt Sandra's Gorgeous Flowers

My Aunt Sandra’s Gorgeous Flowers

Now, don’t get me wrong –  I do love flowers and plants! To look at, to gaze upon, to admire. But that’s about it. I walk past flowers and plants and depending on their looks and condition, I will either say, “Those are so pretty!”  “Wow, those need help.” or “Ugh, I don’t care for those.” One with a genuine talent, or green thumb as we say, looks at flowers and plants and immediately notices whether it needs water, needs to be pruned, needs more sunlight or fertilizer, etc. It’s amazing. I literally see a pretty or ugly plant and that’s about where it stops.

My Aunt Wanda even got Yard of the Month!

My Aunt Wanda even got Yard of the Month!

My amazing mother, my aunts, my step-mother, my mother-in-law – they have all told me names of flowers, plants, and trees, and have given me advice on planting, etc. For some reason, a majority of the information escapes my mind. They all possess the talents of the green thumb, yet even when I receive direction, I don’t seem to be very good at gardening and I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t mind watering, I don’t mind cutting grass or even weed eating, but ugh, I do not like any of the other yard work. At all.

So, I’ll just be grateful that my awesome husband has the talent, actually enjoys it and let all the green-thumbed ladies in my family guide him. I’m just fine with focusing on my other talents, which do not involve the messy, dirty process of planting any flowers or plants. A green thumb? NOT ME.

Ten Easy Tips for Meal Planning

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Meal Planning

One of the ways you can be a Food Waste Warrior is to start planning meals in advance. That can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Arm yourself with these ten easy tips from SaveFood.org and you’ll be scheduling meals and saving food like a pro in no time at all. (I started planning my meals several years ago when I switched to a plant-based diet, and I consider myself a pretty good meal planner – but even I learned something from these tips.)

  1. DON’T START FROM SCRATCH: Successful meal planning doesn’t have to mean hours spent with a cookbook. Start with your go-to meals. Repeat them every week or two. Then, if you’re up for it, toss in something new every once in a while.
  2. CHECK THE REFRIGERATOR: Next week’s meals get their start in the refrigerator. See what needs to be used up, and then think of a meal to make with those items. Check your pantry for the rest of the ingredients and add missing pieces to the shopping list. Voilà. Meal one? Check.
  3. USE PORTION PLANNERS: Portion calculators can help you feed a big group, but they can offer insight too — like why there’s always so much extra rice. Find your favorite by doing a Google search for “portion planner.” I like this one from the ‘For Dummies’ franchise.
  4. HAVE KITCHEN ESSENTIALS HANDY: Stock up on two or three grains, cooking fundamentals, key spices, and easy-to-use sauces like barbecue and enchilada sauce. They can come to the rescue and bring new life to old meals and leftovers.
  5. USE BUILDING BLOCKS: Pick two types of protein, one or two grains, and a vegetable medley to make at the beginning of the week and incorporate into different meals. For instance, a sauté of broccoli and peppers can be used as a side one night, spooned onto enchiladas another night and worked into a soup or meatloaf later in the week.
  6. THINK DOUBLE DUTY: Planning a Tuesday taco night? Think about other ways to use those tortillas. Asian salad wraps, perhaps? Ingredients sometimes come in larger portions than we need. If you plan a second meal around them, it’s easier to avoid the end-of-the-week overload and unused or spoiled food.
  7. SCHEDULE A LAZY NIGHT: We often go to the store hoping to prepare fresh meals all week, but the truth is we often don’t have the time or energy to cook every night. Plan a few lazy nights that don’t require cooking and take the opportunity to order takeout or dine with friends. (This is where I get an Amy’s frozen pizza, which is the perfect “don’t feel like cooking or cleaning, but still semi-healthy” meal.)
  8. GO FRESH FIRST: To preserve freshness and nutrition, use perishables like seafood and meat earlier in the week and save staples (pasta, dairy, omelets) for later in the week. Some greens, like kale and chard, will stay fresh longer than others.
  9. LEAN ON FROZEN INGREDIENTS: Frozen foods have nearly all of the nutrients and sometimes more than their fresh counterparts. And they don’t go bad. Plus, frozen vegetables fill in the gaps. You can buy fresh vegetables in smaller amounts without ending up veggie-less at the end of the week.
  10. COOK AND FREEZE: Soups, stews, casseroles, and lasagna can all be made in large batches and then frozen and defrosted when you need a quick dinner. To keep it easy, always freeze in the portion sizes you’ll want to defrost.

Do We Need a Serving of Humble Pie?

 

By: Lara Winburn

pride

In recent weeks, I have noticed a lot about ego. The good news about writing this is folks with a mega-ego (in politics or otherwise) never know they have one because the mega ego has blinders. First of all, a little ego goes a long way. In my opinion, most everyone with a healthy dose of self-worth also has a healthy dose of ego, self-confidence, whatever you want to call it. I am even attracted to folks that let their ego flag fly – often they are not afraid to try new trends, laugh too loud, and be the center of attention. (If you have ever heard me laugh you know this rings true)

But here is the truth. Humility is the stuff true rock stars are made of. Give me an anonymous donor or a secret Ivy League graduate any day. There is a balance. As I raise both a son and a daughter, I want them to be brave and confident, self-aware and proud of their little individual spirits. But more than that I want them to be kind and thoughtful, patient and loving, and humble.

I do not know whether a yearly helping of humble pie can be mandatory. But I am always striking a balance between building self-confidence without creating a cocky monster. I mean y’all- I have a friend that we have literally joked for years that her momma spent too much time building her up. Her momma must have gone to some “Self-Esteem 101” class but slept through “Nobody likes a Bragger 102.” It is a delicate balance indeed. The best I know is to continue to praise my children for all of their many talents and gifts while also pointing out that this world is full of people walking around with crazy cool talents and gifts. I do not think it is healthy to compare ourselves to each other but it is healthy to look around sometimes and say “Wow – that person is an amazing writer” or “Darn – that girl is so organized, she makes it look easy” or even better to recognize that humble servant that is rarely recognized and seems to be at peace with it all.

This world seems to be screaming: post that awesome thing you did on Facebook, take a picture of that dinner you just slayed, or add another skill to you LinkedIn profile. I think I will try to give as many high fives as I do pats on the back. And as for that humble pie, I promise to choke it down when the time comes to tell myself that I’m only awesome 85% of the time.