My Baby Boy

by Tina Michelle Cameron

On November 30, 1994, I had a scheduled c-section to deliver my second little boy. Well, there was nothing little about him. His name is Hunter Samuel Stout. He was two weeks early and weighed in at 9 lbs. and 15 oz., 22 inches long and 14 ½ inch head and chest. He had to be rushed to the Special Care Nursery because of a low blood sugar and the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck. He was by far the largest baby in there! He was beautiful and perfect.

IMG_20181129_222114There are certain days that stand out when I think of him. One is the day I picked him and his older brother Corey up from daycare, and he started crying in the backseat. He was 4 or 5-years-old and was sitting in his car seat behind me, and I asked him what was wrong. He cried, “I don’t want to leave you when I go off to college.” How sweet was he?

Growing up he played soccer, and I was his assistant coach for several seasons. He looks just like me, however, he towers over me at about 6’3”. He loves to rest his elbow on top of my head when I stand next to him (I am 5’5 1/2”).

Hunter is smart and funny and loves music, movies and football. He is a diehard Tennessee Vols fan (I am from Knoxville). He is now 24 years old and has his undergrad degree from Winthrop University where he majored in history. He is also an alumnus of the Pike Fraternity. He is completing his first year of grad school at The Citadel in Charleston. He is getting his Master of Art in Teaching. His goal is to be a high school social studies teacher and eventually earn his Ph.D. to teach at the university level. He also has a part-time job at Groucho’s Deli as a server.

I love this kid more than he will ever know, and even though we may not always get along because we are both stubborn and just alike, I am so proud of the young man he has become and so proud that he wants to make a difference in a kid’s life. I cannot wait to see what his future holds for him.Screenshot_20190403-050746_Facebook

Gluten-Free Easter Candy

By Rachel Sircy 

Well, another candy-filled holiday is upon us and we know what that means… Everyone who needs to avoid gluten has to Google each and every one of the pastel colored confections that you come across. This Easter, however, I’m not going to just give a list of manufactured candies that are gluten free (if you would like a list of those candies, check out verywellfit.com‘s Gluten Free Easter Candy list, but remember to ALWAYS take lists you find on the internet with a grain of salt. Be safe, not sorry!). I’m going to make the focus of this post my alternative way of dealing with this Easter: I decided to make my own candy.

Okay, so I understand that making candy isn’t rocket science, and there are probably many of you who are real candy-making mavens. However, I thought I would share this post particularly because I am NOT a candy-making superstar. I wanted to show that even if you’re not experienced, you can make delicious candy that your family will enjoy, and if your family happens to be gluten free, this is by far the safest option for you.

Pinterest is overflowing with recipes for Easter candy specialties. At first, I thought I’d try to recreate one of my all-time favorites, the Cadbury Creme Egg. This candy’s gluten-free status has been hotly debated for a long time. I used to just take the risk and eat it, but that really isn’t smart, and I certainly won’t recommend it to anyone reading this blog who needs to be gluten free. I didn’t end up making it though because it turns out that there are a lot of steps to making fake Cadbury eggs, so I thought I’d better start with something much easier. Also, I have no idea what invertase is or where to find it, and it appears to be a crucial ingredient to liquefy the candy center of the eggs. I needed something totally amateur. My inspiration came one day at work when I went to the communal candy jar and realized that all that was left in it were Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Cream Eggs. I used to absolutely love Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Cream candy bars, and I have made a gluten free version of this candy bar, which actually may be better than the real thing. The best part of it is, there are two ingredients: white chocolate and gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies. All you do is mix the two together and, voila! Cookies ’n’ Cream bark.

However, I wanted to make something a bit more festive, to put in my daughter’s Easter basket. Here are my first attempts:

These colorful looking candies are basically the result of about an hour (including all the stops and starts) in the kitchen with two bags of Nestle white chocolate baking chips (they list that they’re gluten free on the package), one package of Glutino chocolate sandwich cookies and some leftover gluten free food coloring I had forgotten about in my kitchen cabinets. I only had three colors: blue, yellow and green, but they still turned out some pretty cute candies if I do say so myself. I purchased the flower and egg candy molds at Hobby Lobby and Michaels, respectively. They were less than $6 together and they’re silicone so the candy just pops right out once it’s been in the fridge or the freezer long enough to harden.

Here are your instructions to make these candies (I’m giving general instructions and not a real recipe since I’m not a chef and frankly, you don’t need a recipe for this):

  1. Melt your white chocolate – I used a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but you can melt your chocolate in the microwave as well.
  2. Portion out some of the chocolate into smaller bowls – I took about 1/3 of the white chocolate and divided it between three smaller bowls. I used a couple of drops of food coloring per bowl to make the three different colors. If you want to make more colors, I would really recommend purchasing a third package of white chocolate chips to have enough to divide up.

Candy 3

  1. Crush the cookies and mix with the larger portion of the melted chocolate

Candy 4

  1. Work in steps – To make colored eggs, paint the inside of the egg molds with the dyed chocolate (my daughter’s old baby food spoons worked really well for this actually). Freeze or refrigerate until set. Fill the mold with the chocolate/cookie mixture and freeze or refrigerate again until set. Top with more of the colored mixture and again freeze or refrigerate until set. You see the pattern? This is pretty much it.

Candy 5

I did do it a bit differently with the flowers to get the yellow in the middle, but you can probably guess how I did that. Just freeze the dollop of yellow before adding the blue. It takes about 5 minutes.

Candy 6

And this is what the inside of those eggs look like:

Candy 2

(Don’t tell me that doesn’t look better than a candy bar. Look at how big the cookie chunks are!)

So, if you’re tired of trying to scan everything in the grocery store into your Shopwell app to see if it’s gluten free, just try your hand at a simple candy recipe. I guarantee you can find something simple and delicious, even if you’re a beginner like me!

Happy Easter!

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Sunsets

By Lisa Baker

Hi everyone.

If you read my last blog post, you know that my Mom passed away within a few days after I wrote it.  She has been gone over a week now. We miss her so much, but we know she is now whole and without pain.  Most importantly, she now has no dementia.

Funerals are not cheap.  I’m sure most of you probably already know this or have had experience with this.  We knew this.

Keep in mind that you most likely will be making these arrangements at a time when you are already very emotional.  I suggest that you don’t go alone.  Take a few trusted family members or close friends with you because they will think of things to ask about that you won’t.

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With every item, ask about the cost and if there is possibly a less costly alternative. The funeral home staff won’t mind you asking lots of questions.  That is what they are there for.

We could have gone cheaper on Mom’s arrangements, but we also could have gone a much more costly route too.  I think we are all very happy with what we picked out for her, and we feel that we went about middle of the road cost-wise.  Her insurance will cover over half of the cost leaving a couple thousand dollars for us to pay.  I would encourage people to check into making your arrangements ahead of time.

Yes, I’m changing the subject a bit, but last night Dad got very aggressive and angry.  He was turning over furniture and yelling.  Staff sent him to the ER after talking with his doctor.  They were checking for a possible UTI or other infection.  I haven’t gotten a report yet.

We decided not to tell Dad about Mom.  I know……I know, many of you will think that is just wrong.  He is far enough along in his dementia that we feel it will only confuse him to tell him.  We also asked staff at his facility what they thought about us not telling him, and they also felt that it was the best decision.  It’s sad.

I’ve got to tell you that for several weeks, Dad has not so much as asked about Mom, but Tuesday after she has passed, he told a staff member that Mom was sitting in the recliner in his room.  Some staff feel that maybe she came to tell him goodbye.  Some think that she may be visiting him and may possibly lead him home with her soon.  I guess only time will tell.

Mom loved “Japanese Cherry Blossom” scented items from Bath and Body Works.  She wore the scent often.  I am living in Mom and Dad’s house now, and there isn’t anything with that scent left in the house.  However, I have smelled that very scent in the house the day after Mom’s service and have smelled it a few times over the last several days.  You may call me crazy if you wish and may even not believe me.  That’s OK, but I know what I smell.  It’s as if she is passing through for a visit or maybe just checking on me. I think it’s a comforting thought and feeling.

I’m cutting my post a little short this time.  I’m still busy writing thank you notes to family and friends that have sent flowers and food during this time.  I’ll be back soon on a regular basis.

Until then, make memories, hug your loved ones, and tell them how you feel.  Have no regrets.  None of us are promised tomorrow.

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A Purpose to Repurpose

By: Marianna Boyce

Do you have a dresser drawer (or two) overflowing with old, unworn, nostalgic T-shirts?  Are you the person who would simply purge them without batting an eye?  Maybe you’re happier packing them up and tossing them into the attic.  My son’s choice was to neatly pack his inside a flat, plastic bin conveniently rolled under his bed.

Being a member of White Knoll High School Marching Band (2002-2006) and Furman University’s Paladin Regiment (2006-2010), Cody had an over-abundance of band shirts—never to be worn again—but absolutely, never to be thrown away!

A few years ago, I stumbled across a website that repurposed his band related T-shirts into a queen-sized quilt.  I wondered if he’d be upset about me cutting those old shirts around the seams, boxing them up, and shipping them to our neighboring state of North Carolina.  I was a bit nervous, but when his birthday rolled around, he was thrilled with this one of a kind keepsake!  His reaction was well worth the cost of admission, which was actually quite reasonable.  As a mom, this made me feel incredible!

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If you are sentimental, I’m sure you’d love to recycle your vintage, school, or vacation getaway tees.  Simply round up forty-nine “panels” of your own shirts and see what this “Made in the USA” company can do for you!

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A “panel” is one side of a shirt, so if you like the front and back of your Eagles concert souvenir, this would count as two panels.  Each one is stitched with high quality craftsmanship to a lightweight fleece backing made with recycled plastic bottles.  If you’re “green,” this is perfect for you too.  The fleece comes in a variety of color choices and sizes, but I find queen-sized is perfect.

What do your T-shirts say about you?  My husband is a huge guitar fanatic, so I image3recently convinced him to have one made with his awesome tees.  I rounded up shirts I’ve acquired over the years to also have one made for me—from Folly Beach, SC, St. Thomas Virgin Islands, Cancun Mexico, Tombstone Arizona, to the Grand Canyon—mine is a hodgepodge of phenomenal trips I’ve taken, plus a few extras.

If you’re wondering what you should do with yours, allow Project Repat to make you an unforgettable memento.  Instructions on their website are easy to follow.  They also allow ample time to submit your shirts after you purchase the size and fleece color of your choice.  This company will definitely bring a smile to your face and quite possibly, happy tears to your eyes.  As stated in their brochure, “Embrace the stories of your life,” or better yet, “Memories you can snuggle up to!”

I am not being paid to advertise for this company.  Their service is just too great not to share with you. What better way to display your unique personality!  Visit www.ProjectRepat.com to order yours.  You will not be disappointed!

 

 

Know Your ABCs: Always. Be. Creating.

By Shannon Boatwright 

So I have this dear friend who I had the honor of meeting when I lived in Los Angeles, CA. We’ve known each other for over 18 years, which is craziness to me, because it seems just like yesterday that we were escaping to dinner and a movie together, getting much needed girl time, being an ear and a shoulder for one another, discussing our hopes and dreams, supporting each other, and somehow always being present for each other no matter how busy or crazy our lives managed to get.  Even after I moved away from Cali and back to my home state of South Carolina, we have always stayed in touch. Though we are miles and miles apart, we have always been able to let each other know that we’re here for one another, we support one another, and no matter how much time goes by, there just seems to be this understanding that we will always be here for each other. Whether trails or tribulations, we’ve got each other’s backs. It’s a friendship that has stood the test of time. I take great confidence in knowing we’ll someway, somehow always stay in touch, and I have faith that our love and support for one another will never wain.

Here’s the beautiful thing about this amazing friend of mine, Tammy Hunt: she’s consistently providing inspiration. Anyone who truly knows me, knows that I love to inspire others in my work, daily life, and with my entertainment endeavors. I also love to be inspired by others. I draw great inspiration from what others share. My passions grow thanks to the inspiration that others provide, and my friend Tammy Hunt is a great source of that inspiration.

She recently shared a post on her Instagram (@therealtammyhunt):

Always Be Creating

This is painted on a wall in downtown Los Angeles, and I love it. One of the many things I focus on in the classes I teach is the incredible importance of creativity, so I firmly believe that one must always have the opportunity to be creative. The opportunity to create on any level is critical to growing as an individual. I’m not just talking about creating on some huge, major level. One can create on any level – whether by getting creative with a recipe, how you set up your living room, how you display family photos, how you share a post on social media, or how you design your flower garden. One can be creative at work by coming up with ways that allow them to be more productive, create a safer work environment, or ways to instigate more positivity and support in the office. Creativity has no limits. Creativity is not just reserved for big time artists. Creativity involves thinking outside of the box and can provide opportunity for great things, big and small. Creativity involves using one’s imagination, which I believe is one of the greatest tools/abilities/skills a person can tap into. The imagination is such a powerful force!

One of my favorite quotes to share with my students is from Albert Einstein himself: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”  I cannot express how much I love that one of the smartest humans that graced our planet firmly believed in the power of imagination and creativity!

Shannon with her friend Tammy HuntSo I love this concept of knowing your ABCs 😉 : this idea that we should never quit creating. This important point allows us to recognize the importance of creativity and using our imaginations to create, on any and all levels. I’m not surprised at all that my outstanding friend, Tammy Hunt, is consistently a source of inspiration for me. I am ever thankful for her constant ability to inspire others. She is a talent manager and not only recognizes talent, but she also recognizes potential. She is a builder of dreams, a support system for those who ooze talent and want to share it with others. She provides guidance and connections for those who engage in the art of being creative. I think what she does is fabulous! I’m proud of her hard work and the way in which she inspires others to pursue their dreams and the way she provides positive inspiration and reminders of what is truly important in life. I know I am certainly thankful for her beauty inside and out. I am thankful for the inspiration she sparks within me. I applaud this lady and am proud to call her my dear friend.

With all this being said, don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from others and inspire others. It’s a priceless treasure for sure. And by all means, make sure you know your ABCs. Find ways to Always Be Creating!

 

 

A Scoop of Ice Cream for a Not-So Spring Chicken!

Milk = Ice CreamThat’s me, on the back side of the big 6-0!  No “spring chicken,” though I still have a lot of energy to go non-stop like the famous pink bunny until I finally wear myself down.  I’m up at o’early every morning and go strong for 12 to 14 plus hours a day (mind you, that is 14 hours of standing and walking).  I’m not a sit-down person, nor is my job. It takes an energized person to teach high school, and being a chef/instructor means several things: keep them safe, keep them learning, and keep them active. “Walk a mile in my shoes” takes on a whole new meaning as I can blow up a step counter in just one day.  Maybe someday someone will able to keep up with me, but until then, I’ll set the pace for the other spring chickens!

We were gearing up this week for an annual showcase of our area schools and the programs each offers. The hum of ice cream churns and the wafting smells of a variety of cupcakes filled our commercial kitchen.  Our “real” ice cream made with cream and egg yolks has been sampled by all of my students and several faculty/staff members as we practiced the recipe last week.  A few of my students helped serve, sell, and promote our program at the showcase with sample cups of vanilla ice cream, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, devil’s food cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting, and carrot cake cupcakes with Italian buttercream frosting.  We sold out of the delicious cupcakes with handmade decorations in 45 minutes and sold most of the ice cream cups for 50 cents each!

Ice cream is a staple at Nana’s house and graces the table for every special birthday chocolate-cold-dark-1346341.jpglunch.  Chocolate, cherry “vilinna,” as my granddaughter calls it, and other varieties that complement the birthday cake are on hand.  The little ones enjoy a small cone filled only to the top as they tend to share their quick melting treat on everyone and everything.  We have even had an ice cream baby shower!  A variety of toppings covered the island in my kitchen and each person created their own concoction in glasses with sundae spoons to reach the bottom.  With the warmer weather approaching, I urge you to break out your churn (or purchase one if you don’t have one) so you too can “churn” up some memories with your family and friends.

As I listened to the hum of the electric churns, I reminisced about making ice cream when I was a child and the old hand crank churn that had a folded towel on top so one of us could hold on to it and take turns with the crank.  Vanilla or fresh peach were my daddy’s favorites. “Butter-be-gone” was my sweet husband’s favorite.  I sure miss having an occasional “little scoop” with him and slowing down long enough from my fast-paced life for some simple joy.

I am including this simple ice cream recipe that can be adapted to include your favorite flavor and some ice cream sauces/topping recipes.

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Vanilla (Bean) Ice Cream

Yield-@ 3 c. Ice Cream Base, @ 2 quarts after churning

Tools and Utensils:

  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Food thermometer
  • Strainer
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Ice cream churn

Ingredients

  • 2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/8 t. fine Sea Salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • *1 vanilla Bean, OR 1 t. vanilla Extract

*To prepare the vanilla bean, use the tip of a knife to split the bean lengthwise.  Scrape out the seeds (caviar) adding both the vanilla bean and the caviar to the heated ice cream base to steep.

Procedure

  1. Heat heavy cream, milk, sugar and sea salt in a small saucepan until the sugar is melted.
  2. Temper the egg yolks with the heated mixture.
  3. Return the saucepan to heat the mixture, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, to 170 °
  4. Remove and stir in steep the vanilla bean and caviar for 15-20 minutes OR add vanilla extract
  5. Remove the vanilla bean and carefully strain the mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl.
  6. Cool the mixture, cover and refrigerate several hours or over night.
  7. Churn the ice cream mixture per your ice cream churn directions with ice and rock salt for @ 1 hour to 90 minutes or until thick.
  8. The ice cream will be at a soft serve-stage.
  9. Remove ice cream for the churn and freeze (cure) in a plastic container over night or several hours, or enjoy it straight from the churn!

*Note-this ice cream does not have preservatives and melts quickly.

Hot Chocolate Sauce

4-6 servings

Tools and Utensils:

  • Electronic scale
  • Small double boiler
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients

  • 3.5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 T. dark corn syrup
  • 4 T. water
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 t. vanilla extract

Procedure

  1. Combine chocolate, syrup and water in the top of a small double boiler.
  2. Heat over simmering water until chocolate melts.
  3. Stir in butter and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Serve warm.
  5. Refrigerate cooled leftovers in an airtight container.

Fudge Sauce

2½ cups

Tools and Utensils:

  • Large saucepan
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients

  • 6 unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 13.5 oz. skim evaporated milk
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 ½ c. corn syrup
  • ½ t. instant coffee granules
  • ¼ t salt

Procedure

  1. Combine ingredients in a large saucepan.
  2. On medium, heat until boiling.
  3. Boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Serve warm.
  5. Refrigerate cooled leftovers in an airtight container.

Caramel Sauce

4 cups 

Tools and utensils

  • Electronic scale
  • Medium saucepan
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Pastry brush
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • 34 oz. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 ½ t. lemon juice
  • 8 oz. heavy cream (room temperature)
  • 1.25 oz. unsalted butter

Procedure

  1. Combine sugar and water in a heavy medium saucepan.
  2. On high, bring to a boil.
  3. Brush down sides of saucepan with water on a pastry brush to remove sugar granules.
  4. When sugar come to a boil, add lemon juice, but do not stir.
  5. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches 338°F, and is dark brown.
  6. Remove saucepan from heat, and gradually add cream as it may spatter, whisking until smooth.
  7. Add pieces of butter, stir until smooth- may be necessary to place back on the heat to melt.
  8. Serve warm.
  9. Refrigerate cooled sauce in an airtight container.

My First Born

By Tina Michelle Cameron

IMG_20181106_040446_012I am a proud mom of two sons. I love them both the same—to the moon and back. We have all said this to each other since they were little. My oldest is named Corey Stephen Cameron. He just turned 28 on March 11. The day I found out I was pregnant with him was one of the happiest days of my lives. I was not expecting it, and it came as a complete surprise. I found out at my first gyn appointment. I thought the lab tech was congratulating someone else, but she was talking to me! I was 8 ½ weeks along that day. I knew from then on that I had to know as soon as I could what the sex of the baby was. His nursery was done in teddy bears. The timing was not the best as I was in the middle of LPN school, and his due date was the day after graduation. Well, I made it through school and then three weeks after that! I was miserable. He was born as an emergency C-section and was the biggest baby born at Baptist Medical Center that week and made the news in The State paper. He was beautiful and perfect. I remember that day like it was yesterday.

Fast forward to age nine: he was a very active boy and took Karate two nights a week and taught Karate classes two nights a week. One evening, he was kicked (accidentally in the head) and this injury led to a life-changing diagnosis—not just for him, but my entire family of three (I was divorced by then). He was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3, which is a rare connective tissue disorder. It causes easy bruising, bleeding, and joint dislocations. He was forced to stop Karate, became home-bound from school for 8 months, and could not do any contact sports. It took many months of physical therapy and numerous doctors to get him stable. He is now doing well, but the disease has no cure.

Corey is a very intelligent, fun-loving, and sweet young man who knows no stranger. He

attended Dutch Fork High School and then graduated from The University of Alabama on May 2, 2015 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He has been working at Mercedes-Benz in Ladson, South Carolina as a project manager since 2016. He gets to travel the world with his job—lucky boy. He is passionate about working out, eating healthy, traveling the world, and his motorcycle. Corey shares a home in Charleston with two of his best friends, Elliot and Colton. He is also dating a sweet girl named Acacia. I am so proud of the young man he has grown into. I am glad to have him back in South Carolina and closer to home, but I do not get to see him as much as I want. Corey, I love you to the moon and back!

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