Memorial Day Fare

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

This is from my senior prom. No, really. I was smokin’ hot!

Raising a child is an everyday adventure, to say the least.  My daughter just finished Kindergarten and is at the age of constant questions, excitement for learning and unstoppable energy.  “Teachable moments” abound when you have a young child.  Being a born and bred Southerner, I want to make sure she learns the history, the stories and the traditions that define the South.  And, as we all know, a HUGE component of Southern culture is FOOD.

This Memorial Day holiday, our family stayed here at home.  In fact, we’re not crazy about going out of town on the big holidays because the Interstate traffic is bonkers, everything is ridiculously crowded and we just can’t stand it.  So the three of us spent the day relaxing and spending time with each other, which gave us the opportunity to talk to the little one about what this holiday means.  She’s already pretty versed (for a 6-year-old) in military knowledge.  We have a niece who is active duty Air Force and a nephew who already served in the Air Force. Her (now deceased) maternal and paternal grandfathers also served in the military.  Recently she saw a video that was shot at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and was very intrigued.  Perfect timing too, as we have a Girl Scout trip coming up in June that will take us to D.C. and Arlington is on the itinerary.  She’s very excited about that!

So, as she was busy making “Happy Memorial Day” cards for Jordan and Dallas, I was busy putting together a traditional Southern meal.  If you think about it, most national holidays are celebrated here in the Southern states with some form of barbeque.  Think about it:  Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day.  The meal I came up with was BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and baked beans.  Generally speaking, I don’t make baked beans often.  Okay, almost never.  I always enjoy them, I just don’t think of them often.  The point?  I “whipped up” a batch in my crockpot, which of course means I didn’t have to do much at all.  I do love crockpots!  The result was quite good and I thought I’d share it with you all.  (Interestingly, the little one who seems to think sweets are the main dish and vegetables are a dessert rejected these sweet beans.  You never know.  Next time, she’ll probably think they’re the best in the world!)

Crockpot Baked Beans

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick sliced bacon; cut in pieces (I like to use my kitchen shears)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 16-oz. cans of pinto beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 ½ Tbs yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • ½ medium bell pepper, chopped

 Directions:

Cook bacon in skillet until crispy, remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.  Reserve the dripping in the pan.  Saute the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings until tender.

Combine bacon, onion mixture and all other ingredients in the crockpot.  Cover and cook about 4/12 to 5 hours on LOW.  You can use HIGH if you like for 2/12 to 3 hours.

Go sit down, have a glass of wine, read a book, whatever, while these babies cook and make your house smell divine!  Unfortunately, most BBQ dinners tend to be pretty monochromatic, but that’s just the way it is.  Just embrace your Southern-ness and dig in!  I hope you enjoy.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

By: Katie Austin

Me with my with long hair (before cancer)

For so many women, our hair is an important part of who we are.  We never leave home without it and we style it to go with not only our outfit, but how we are feeling that day.   I used to be that girl that couldn’t leave the house without styling my hair, locking each curl in place with the help of many different products.  My hair was long and curly, defying gravity at times and had a mind of its own on a hot, humid day.  I miss my long hair, but not for the reasons you might think.

You see, I lost all of my hair while battling breast cancer.  One of the possible side effects from chemotherapy treatments is that your hair falls out.  At first, I freaked out at the thought of having no hair, but what could I do?  It wasn’t like I could grow it out, keep it in a ziploc bag and dabble a little on my bald head when needed.  But, I did decide that I would purchase a wig to have as my backup plan.  When I wanted to have hair, I would put it on and when I didn’t, I would go naturally bald.  Funny to think that for me “going natural” no longer meant letting my curls dry on their own.

Me with my wig on

So, where would I start looking for a wig?  Do I order one online or find a store locally?  I had no idea where to start and then I found Becky’s Place at Lexington Medical Center.  I decided I would stop in after one of my oncology appointments and see what hair they had available.  I had it in my mind that I would purchase a wig that was similar to the long, curly hair I was used it.  It would be just like I never lost my hair and I would feel more like myself.

I tried a few wigs on and glanced over at a shorter style.  I realized then that I had the perfect opportunity to try on a wig in a shorter style that was completely different for me.  A shorter cut with longer pieces of hair, framing my face.  I have always loved this hair style on other women, but never had the guts to go that short.  Well, knowing that I would lose my hair completely, I could take a leap of faith and go with something shorter to try it on before my hair came back in.  Almost like test driving a new hair style and if I didn’t like it, I would test drive another until I found the wig that I liked and fit the new me.  After awhile, I began to like my shorter hair and began missing my long hair less.   Losing my hair was an opportunity to re-invent myself.

Me with my mohawk!

Shortly before my 2nd chemotherapy treatment, it began to fall out in clumps.  I realized then that I wanted to take control and cut off my hair before it all fell out.  I had my wig as a backup so it was time for my hair to go before it left me looking like something out of a bad horror film.  It was as if I was making a last stand and my hair would be gone on my command.  My husband, with a pair of scissors in hand, began the tedious task of cutting my hair off.  Because it was long, we had to cut it as short as we could and then he could buzz it shorter.  I had a thought in the middle of my hair falling to the ground — I wanted a Mohawk.  I thought, why not?!   I am going to lose all of my hair anyway so I might as well see what I would look like with one.   So, once it was short enough, I received my first (and last) Mohawk.  We took pictures to capture the moment (also proof for those not there) and then the rest of my hair was buzzed off.   Well, let’s just say that I look better bald than I do with a Mohawk 🙂

Me with my infusion nurse, Sharon

What I learned through the process was that my long, curly hair was a security blanket for me.  Losing my hair helped me to become more comfortable with myself, letting go of the old me and embracing change.   Now, when I go to get my haircut or highlighted, I just sit in the chair and let the magic happen.  I am trying different styles and loving the different looks as I am finding myself during this journey.  What my hair has become is an accessory and I dress it up different every day.  I knew that losing my hair would leave me feeling empty, like I lost a best friend.  It was one of a series of hurdles that I would eventually overcome in my battle against cancer.

Life is a series of hurdles, some larger than others.  No matter what comes your way, you have to believe that you will always find a way to get over each one. No matter how many times you fall down, you pick yourself up, dust off and keep trying.  Never give up, never give in and embrace change along the way.  You just never know where your journey will take you 🙂

How to Turn 10 Steps Into 10,000!

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Mary Pat Baldauf

It’s a widely accepted premise that to help achieve good health, we should strive to take 10,000 steps – equal to roughly five miles – a day.  If you walk 10,000 steps a day, you’ll burn between 2,000 – 3,500 extra calories per week, which can result in a better health profile and longer lifespan.

Five miles? If you’re like me, you already have more things on your to-do list than there are hours in a day; there’s no way you can and “walk five miles” to the list, much less cross it off as done. The good news?  It’s easier than you think, and with a few small changes, you’ll be up to 10,000 steps in no time.

Because you can’t achieve what you can’t measure, get started by determining your baseline step measurement.  Buy a pedometer and wear it every day for a week without making any changes in your activity level.  Put it on when you get up; wear it until bed time.  Record your daily steps, and by the end of the week, you’ll know your average daily steps.  Note:  Many people only average 1,000 – 3,000 steps a day. If you don’t get as many as you think, don’t worry – you’re just getting started!

Next, set the reasonable goal of increasing your daily steps each week by 500 until you reach 10,000.   If you currently average 3,000 steps each day, your goal for week one is 3,500 each day. Your week 2 goal is 4,000 each day. Continue to increase each week and you should be averaging 10,000 steps by the end of 14 weeks.

If you’re still trying to figure out when you’re going to walk five miles, don’t worry. There are lots of ways you can sneak steps into your day:

  1. Set a Timer: Whether you set your phone timer or set a time in your mind, make a point to get up from your desk and walk around the office on a regular basis. At the top of each hour, I get up from my desk, do a quick stretch and walk around for a few minutes. Sometimes I walk to the end of the building, other times just around my desk. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re getting extra steps.
  2. Capitalize on the Size of your Bladder:  Opt for the bathroom farthest away from your desk, even one that forces you to take the stairs to a different floor. The additional minutes spent walking might not seem like much, but they always add up over the course of the day. I not always choose the furthest bathroom, but also the furthest stall!
  3. Park It:  Whether you’re at the grocery store or church, don’t circle the parking lot for the closest space – take one further out. Besides getting extra steps, you’ll also save gas, time and stress.
  4. Don’t Multitask: Instead of working efficiently at tasks, work inefficiently. Fold your laundry in the living room, then put it up a few items or even just one at a time. At work, make several trips to the fax machine or copier instead of saving everything for one trip. Once I get all of the cold stuff out, I actually like to unload the groceries one bag at a time.
  5. Take the Stairs: It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Challenge yourself to take the stairs up and down instead of taking the elevator. On an escalator? Walk it. My favorite thing about taking the stairs? The reaction I get when I turn down the elevator or ask where the stairs are. Try it; you’ll see what I mean.
  6. Skip It: The drive-thru window, that is. Whether you’re at the bank, fast food restaurant or pharmacy, get out and walk inside. One drive-thru I’ve ditched? The one at the dry cleaner!
  7. Pace Yourself: Find opportunities to walk or pace when you would normally sit or stand. Pace behind your desk while you’re on a call at work. Traveling? Walk the terminal instead of reading the paper; there will be plenty of time to sit on the plane. I try to walk around the house when brushing my teeth.
  8. Shop ‘til You Drop: Whether you purchase veggies at the local farmer’s market or window shop on Main Street, shopping is always a fun way to get steps! I always walk up and down each aisle at the grocery store, whether I need anything on a particular aisle or not.
  9. Divide and Conquer: Don’t have an extra 30 minutes to walk? Try three 10-minute walks throughout the day. Even six five-minute walks will work!
  10. Think Outside of the Box: Challenge yourself to find a new and different ways to increase your steps. Remember, a few extra steps here and there can add up. Instead of sitting in the back of the movie theater, walk closer to the front. Don’t stop the car at the mailbox; park the car first, then walk to get the mail. Usually get the newspaper on your way out of the driveway? Walk up the driveway to get it before you get in the car.

Do you wear a pedometer? If so, how do you increase your steps? What is the biggest challenge of wearing a pedometer? If not, would you ever consider wearing one? What’s holding you back? 

Mom Envy: My Child Is Better Than Yours

By: Roshanda Pratt

Here is the scenario: You are at the park for a play date with other moms with children. Your child does something spectacular at least in your eyes. You applaud them. Within seconds another mom starts telling you how her child does so well at school and plans to skip a grade next school year. The next mom chimes in to say her child is excelling in reading and already plays the piano. For the next 2 to 5 minutes the conversation is a see-saw of child accolades, comparing who really has the “better” child.  Honestly, mama’s how many of you can say you have been in a conversation like this before?  Mom Envy.  It is real, destructive, stressful and unfair.

Not too long ago, I was talking to a mom who was bragging heavily about her kids. I mean HEAVILY.  These children were the next Albert Einstein, Picasso, Michael Jordan all rolled into one.  I listened as this mom went on and on about how “great” their child is doing in just about everything!  I found myself wanting to say, “Hey, my kid is special too, see, let me tell you!”  When I did get a chance to speak, I started rattling off a list of my children’s “accomplishments.”  She then added more “accomplishments” of her own.  After a while, I felt like we were playing a game of tic-tac-toe and neither one of us was winning.

I left questioning my abilities as a mother, my children’s education, their lack of extra circular activities (even though my children are 6, 4 and 23 months) and social skills. Was I failing?  Do they need to do more so they can “compete.”  Then the harsh reality hit, could I be the problem?  Maybe for you that is not a problem.  Maybe your “Mom Envy” consists of being jealous of a mom who seems well put together, organized, patient, etc. Here is the truth about “Mom Envy.”  It is unfair and damaging.  At the core, it says “I am not good enough, my children are not good enough, God made a mistake.”  I decided I would not compare myself or my children to anyone else.

Psalm 139:14 NIV reads, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My confidence in my parenting has to rest on the fact that I am being the mom God has created for MY children.  I had to resolve being comfortable in my mommie “skin.” Everyone’s family dynamic is different, I had to decide to respect my situation without trying to make “my children or my parenting” like anyone else.  Now, I am not saying you should not have “mommie mentors.”  There are older women or moms who have been in the motherhood world longer than you.  These kind of relationships are an asset to your parenting.  This is a good thing.

However, what is not good is not enjoying your present because you are comparing it to others. I am drawing a line in the sand that the next time mom envy tries to rear its head, I will instead applaud my follow mom on her accomplishments, I will celebrate with her instead of pondering my “lack” of self-worth in my heart.  I will NOT be baited into comparison.  Let’s start a Mommie-lution, let’s ban together to love ourselves and rejoice with our fellow mom’s instead of feeling inadequate.  And if you need to make some legitimate changes in your mothering, you will do so under the guise of pressure to live life through someone else.  So, who is with me?  I would love to hear what you think.

Your friend in the journey of Motherhood,

Ro

Flash Mob Fun

By: Shannon Shull

The definition of a flash mob…

A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.  The term “flash mob” was coined in 2003.

Whether on television or in commercials, I have long been fascinated and inspired by flash mobs. You just cannot deny the fun and joy they create! Whether one is participating in the flash mob or witnessing one – it’s just flat out undeniably a cool thing! To be somewhere in a very public place, hear loud music then suddenly witness random people coming together to entertain, share some joy and have a great time…that to me is just downright awesome.

Ever since seeing different flash mobs across the world online and on television, I have always wanted to do one.  Since I have a producer’s spirit, I figured out if I ever wanted to be a part of one, I’d probably have to make it happen myself!  So when I knew the SC Poultry Festival was coming up, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to attempt my first official flash mob experience.

I introduced the idea to the Poultry Fest committee and luckily they embraced it and were incredibly supportive and excited.  Then I broached the idea with all my Zumba classes.  All the ladies, young and older, were absolutely thrilled and gung ho to be involved!  So fortunately it all came together fairly easily and the buzz of the flash mob spread and folks were contacting me asking to be involved.

We ended up having close to fifty people of all ages participate and perform the flash mob on May 12th, 2012 in Batesburg-Leesville at the 26th Annual SC Poultry Fest.  I would’ve loved to have had more people but for a first attempt, I’d say we did pretty darn good!  We certainly had a blast and folks around town are still talking about.

Check out the video of our famous small town flash mob… I wish I could’ve had several different camera angles that could’ve shown the number of people that were dancing and all the people who were standing around watching us, but this video will suffice and I certainly hope you enjoy watching!

A big thank you goes out to all those who participated!  And to everyone who came to the good ole Poultry Fest and witnessed our mob of fun, “We’re Glad You Came”! 🙂

Shannon’s First Flash Mob – Song: “Glad You Came” by the Wanted.

Featuring Batesburg-Leesville Leisure Center and Gilbert Zumba Class dancers, CCPAC dancers, B-L High School dancers and other fabulous locals…

Top Ten Fab Flash Mobs Ever…

http://mememachine.viralvideochart.com/blog/2011/5/26/top-10-most-popular-flash-mob-videos.html

SC Poultry Festival

By:  Crissie Miller Kirby

As I write this, life in our little corner of the state has returned to normal.  The hustle and bustle of the last week has given way back to the slow pace of life we typically enjoy, traffic moves slowly and easily along normal routes, and the children of the town are feeling slightly depressed.  You might think that this would be the scene in the days following Christmas, but for Batesburg-Leesville, this is life following the 3-day-event known as the SC Poultry Festival.  In its 26th year, the festival is still going strong and appeared to be well attended.  The festival pays homage and recognition to the importance of the poultry industry to our state, and indeed our little town as Amick Farms, Columbia Farms, and Gentry’s Poultry all have operations located within a few mile radius of the town center.  Many of our family and friends are poultry growers or work for one of the aforementioned companies; others of us are employed in an agri-business that finds many of its customers in the poultry industry.

I could spend pages detailing the events of the festival.  Suffice to say that our little town does it up right and offers so much that our population swells to nearly 100,000 during the festivities.  From beauty queens and barbecued chicken to volleyball and corn hole, rides and games to crafts and chicken calling contests (seriously), a parade filled with local middle school and high school bands, local dignitaries, and even Cocky and the Clemson Tiger.  There are 3 stages offering different musical choices.  The pinnacle of the festival is the fireworks display around 9:15 p.m.; which for a little town, we know how to get your attention with the fireworks.

Again, I could go on and on, however, I am going to keep it short and just let you enjoy the fireworks from the festival:

Five Summer Dresses Under $100

By: Staci Rutherford

I currently have one maxi dress that I wear to death!  I challenged myself to style it differently each time I wear it so no one else recognizes that it’s the same dress.  It has a very distinct print so it’s relatively easy to remember.  I wore it once with a navy and white pin striped button down shirt, another time with an olive green short sleeve hooded top over it, and most recently, with a gray v-neck sweater.  The v-neck sweater received the most attention, because it accentuated the jeweled neckline on the dress.

It soon occurred to me that I never wear dresses, and for the life of me, I could not figure out why.  Summer after summer, I have been missing out on all of the pretty dresses because of reasons that add up to my own silly insecurities.  This time around, I am determined to wear more dresses because they are easy to shop for and extremely versatile.  If you want to update your summer wardrobe with a few new dresses, check out my top five favorites, all priced under $100!

V-back Dress, Price: $89.90 at Zara

T Tahari Samara Dress, Price: $88.00 at Bloomingdale’s

Evan Picone Sleeveless Paisley Printed Dress, Price: $99.00 at Macy’s

FELICITY & COCO Stripe Jersey Tank Dress, Price: $68.00 at Nordstrom

Donna Morgan Flame Print Blouson Dress, $64.99 (original price: $94.00)

The key to making a dress versatile is to experiment with how you wear it.  For a daytime look that is appropriate for work, throw on a cardigan or cotton blazer to cover up bare shoulders and arms.  For evening, add a bold statement necklace or metallic accessories.  Don’t be afraid to switch from your everyday tote to a clutch or from a flat sandal to a platform pump so your dress has a totally different personality.