Classic Films on the Big Screen

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

As a fan of the classic black and white movies of the 1940s-1960s, I miss the magic of a cold dark theater and experiencing a film on a giant screen with a hundred or so others. That’s why I’m so excited that Columbia’s Nickelodeon, aka The Nick, is showing one of my favorites, Sunset Boulevard, from August 10-12 as part of their National Treasures series.

The Nick

Last year, I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window at the old Nickelodeon, and it was a wonderful experience! I took some family and friends, most of whom were unfamiliar with Hitchcock’s suspenseful flicks. I enjoyed sharing Hitchcock with them, but I also enjoyed seeing one of the classics on the big screen for the first time. Sunset Boulevard will be at Sunset Boulevard“The Nick’s” new location, which I haven’t seen since before they started renovations some time back. Between seeing the new location and one of my favorite old movies on big screen, I can hardly wait.

If you’re curious about The Nick or some of the old classics, I encourage you to look into their National Treasure series, and I highly recommend Sunset Boulevard. It’s one of my favorites, and I try to watch it whenever it runs on TMC.

I can’t remember when I gave up modern movies for the classics, but once I did, it was hard to go back. Although I’m not what I would call an “old-fashioned girl,” I do love the innocence of the old black and whites. It’s not that they don’t tackle some of the same stories as in the movies of today, but more the treatment that the story receives. There’s little cursing, no nudity and references to the sometimes “taboo” story lines are quite subtle and leave much to your imagination. You have to think a little more, perhaps, but the stories are every bit as wonderful.

I will soon write a post about some of my favorite old movies, but for now, I recommend that you make plans now to see Sunset Boulevard at The Nick. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that doesn’t come around very often.

Waging the Sibling War

By: Shannon Shull

Once upon a time, a certain sister and brother fought and fought and just couldn’t seem to find the niceness for one another that their mother demanded of them. They slashed each other with ugly words and hit one another with hands and feet. At times, the cruelty seemed to grow like a fire that this Mommy could not put out, no matter what requests, demands, pleading or threats she attempted.

What does a Mommy do to make her offspring see the light? She taps into that magical power called RESTRICTION and utilizes it to promote peace. However, like the wars of the world, the battle never ceases, and the attempts at cooperation, understanding and love are consistently put to the test in a desperate effort to create harmony within the story that is the fairy tale of our lives.

Every child and every situation is unique and requires a different disciplinary equation to achieve a solution that might actually work, whether just for a bit of time or for rest of time. Trust me, I understand and have experienced that sometimes (even most times) the threats and restrictions don’t work worth a toot, and that the sibling fights continue to torture anyone in the vicinity of the rascals. Some offspring consistently laugh in the face of discipline.

The beginning of the battle always seems to be the toughest – when the stubbornness runs so deep that ugliness intensifies to degrees that would make a parent feel as if his or her chest would literally explode at the reality that he/she created this monster. The drama-filled meltdowns are enough to make a parent either laugh or cry at the reality he or she is enduring. In “real” life, humans are fighting for their lives in wars or against life-threatening ailments, leaders are making decisions that affect millions, people are battling mother nature or stressing over how they’ll pay their bills and yet, in the moment when a parent is up against an angry, disrespectful child, the weight of life can bear down on you as if you’re a mental patient strapped into a straight jacket.

The incredible actor, Ed Asner, once said, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”  Thus far, I’ve discovered that if there is any hope at all of surviving the warfare and bringing peace to the nations, one must absolutely have patience. Patience, the strength to stick to your guns and use the weapons of discipline! Kids are some of the smartest little beings on the planet and very easily learn early on how to manipulate those around them in ways that would impress just about anyone. So when you hold firm in your strictness and carry out your threats, there may just be some hope that you will get through to the little buggers and actually teach them a lesson.

On a recent, particular day in my storybook life, the sibling ugliness had boiled over and this fairy godmother was determined to turn down the heat! The beloved gadgets – Kindles, iPods, laptops, and television – were banned, put on prisoner mode, until the two l’il heathens could prove that they did indeed have love in their hearts and could get along.

SlblingsAs I pushed through the initial drama that started the fight, holding firm in my battle plan and pulling patience from my toes, an amazing thing happened….this particular type of discipline was working!  The harsh war cooled, the stubbornness gave in to cooperation, and the ugliness turned to togetherness. We were able to carry out the entire rest of the day with zero access to gadgets and low and behold, there was joy in the air! We read books, made some art, had our own Michael Jackson dance party and played the board game “Life.” It made for a lovely, miraculous day.

When tempers started to even barely engage, the threat of more gadget restriction seemed to calm the storm and get them back on the happy track. There were even moments of high fives and hugs between these two supposed enemies. By nightfall they earned the reward of playing a Wii game, but they had to play together. Miraculously, they worked together and actually enjoyed it. And, I gained even more of a win because they were wearing themselves out physically. On that particular day, the battle was won.

Another day will be another story that very well could prove to be a disastrous loss. We never know how or if the battles between siblings can be won because we never know how the little soldiers will respond to their leaders. The fairy tale can turn into a horror story at any given moment. But in the case of my storybook, I will continue to use my weapon of choice – restriction from gadgets and a high dose of patience – as long as it seems to lessen the blows of sibling warfare!  So to all those parents out there with more than one child, who have to consistently wage the sibling war… may the force be with you.  😉

Peach Chicken

By: Brady Evans

I’m not sure if the following phenomenon is a Southern thing or if it occurs all over the US; please let me know.

From spring to summer in the south, seemingly every small town holds festivals. These events are all very different, but are all very similar.  Their commonality is that they celebrate a food item – perhaps a crop grown in the area or a local specialty. Off the top of my head I can think of a peanut festival, an okra ‘strut,’ a crawfish festival and a poultry festival.  My town’s specialty?  The peach festival. So, here’s a great recipe using fresh peaches.

Peach chicken

Peach Chicken


  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, split in half lengthwise into thin cutlets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peach balsamic vinegar or other balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 large firm-ripe peaches, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • scallions for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the nonstick spray in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, add to the skillet and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and orange juice in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. When the chicken is browned, transfer to a plate and set aside.
  5. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the chicken broth, the soy sauce mixture, and the peaches to the pan. Turn the heat up to high and cook, uncovered, for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken and the peaches soften.
  7. Add the chicken and peach sauce mixture to a large baking dish and bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes.
  8. Serve, garnished with sliced scallions.

See more at:

New Bucket List Item – Visit A Waterfall

By: Katie Austin 

As we plan our vacation time, whether to old favorites or new destinations, why not include a visit to a waterfall?  Yes, you read that right – a waterfall!  When I think of a waterfall, my first thought is Hawaii. Then I read an article on and was surprised to read that there are several waterfalls throughout the Grand Canyon.

Here are a few of the breathtaking pictures from the article:




Wow! The pictures are amazing! You can see/read more about the waterfalls in the Grand Canyon here.

Have you visited a waterfall? If so, where? Do you know of any other waterfalls located in the United States?  I can’t wait to plan my trip and I will be sure to share pictures when I return.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week and remember – live each day to the fullest!

Ctrl + Alt + Delete = A Clean Start

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

ScaleI haven’t been blogging about my healthy lifestyle as much lately, mostly because I have been a little off of my game. Without getting into the reasons and/or excuses – some good, others not so much – I haven’t been nearly as focused on my healthy living goals in the last few months. I’ve gained some weight, and I’ve been feeling bad about myself. I’ve been mad and disappointed in myself, and I didn’t want to share that with anyone else.

Have I totally undone the progress I made? Not by a long shot. I’ve been a little laxer on working out, but despite missing a few days here or a week there around some injuries, I still strength train twice a week and get three to five sessions of cardio in. I’ve allowed myself a few more treats, especially ice cream, but otherwise, I’m still eating clean. No processed and/or fast food, just a little too much healthy food. Those size eight skirts don’t fit right now, but I’m still five sizes below where I started, and I’m still in the petite section. Still, I have been feeling pretty darn bad about myself.

Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how losing the weight was so much easier than maintaining it. During my time in the Doctors Wellness Center 12-week program, I really faced some challenges. Dad was ill and passed away. My beloved dog, Winston, had to be put down suddenly. I lost my cat, Duchess, to cancer. I traveled a lot for work. Yet I was still able to do quite well making some significant lifestyle changes.

I’m sure part of it has been transitioning from seeing a nutrition counselor each week and engaging in a 30 minute accountability session. There were weeks we didn’t talk about food at all, but about an issue I may be having at work or at home. She helped me think out possible solutions and challenged me to implement them rather than drowning my troubles in food. She was a weekly touchstone for me that I don’t have now. It’s probably totally normal to experience some changes as I learn to face my new lifestyle “on my own.”

Another part has probably been finding my bearings as a healthier, thinner person. Until recently, I wasn’t necessarily trying to lose more weight, and perhaps I allowed myself more leeway when it came to portion size and treats. The past year has brought a few extra lbs., but it has also brought me knowledge of what I can and cannot handle in terms of staying healthy and at a desired weight.

I talked to people who know about these things, and they say that a small weight gain is normal and not something to feel bad about. They say that while my weight may be up, soon things will come back into balance and the weight will come back down.

Long story short, things started falling back into place in the last week or so. I realized that the year was halfway through, and it was time to quit the pity party and move forward. I know what to do, and I have the tools and the support system.

Last week, I returned to journaling my food and exercise on My Fitness Pal. Every day wasn’t perfect, but I recorded everything, even the excesses. I also got my fitness mojo back, completing two strength training sessions and did cardio more days than I didn’t. I also started wearing my FitBit again, which has motivated me to increase my steps. Finally, I packed up my size eight clothes that have been taunting me from the closet and pulled out ones that fit a bit better. (That alone has been a huge boost.)

This week, my goals are to continue recording every day, increase my cardio a little more, do at least one vegan day and work on keeping my portion sizes where they should be.

My overall goal is to do my best one day at a time, but I also hope that I can get down 25 lbs. between now and the end of the year. That won’t quite put me at my all-time low, but it will put me in a good, happy place.

So, how have YOU successfully dealt with a setback, health-wise or otherwise? Any special tricks or tips to help get you through the rough spots? What has helped you get your “mojo” back?

Fitness Training, On a Personal Level…

By: Shannon Shull

Wanna push it to the limits, earn some sweat, feel the burn, reach some goals, survive the soreness and walk away feelin’ good and proud as heck!?

Working with a personal trainer has been quite an experience – one that has certainly proven itself to be a personal adventure involving a lot of sweat and muscle soreness! Yes, I teach Zumba, and listen to friends declare, “Why in this world would you want or need to work with a personal trainer!?” Well, I still have body issues and body goals – some that I admit may just not be attainable, but I can darn well try!

I have this vision of having mac-daddy abs – like Jillian Michaels on the cover of the 2013 July/August SHAPE magazine. Will I ever actually have those kind of abs? I’m gonna stand tall and admit that I most likely will not EVER because thus far I refuse to give up sweet tea, cream and sugar in my coffee, and all things pasta. I’m learning that there must be a healthy balance to your personal life. Life is too short to place harsh restrictions on yourself.

I make my goals a little more attainable. Since I’ve given birth to two children and I do not want to restrict my diet to a torturous level, I am aware that I will probably not be able to achieve a six-pack. But at least I can work at having a somewhat-flat-pack, right!?

Besides the part about having a strong, healthy body, I love the part when you walk away from a workout session, with such a rewarding sense of accomplishment – even if the accomplishment is that you didn’t throw up or cry! 😉 Working with a trainer has benefited me immensely. I know I will be able to walk away knowing which exercises will be safe for me to do with an exercise plan that specifically targets my goals and caters to my physical abilities.

A personal trainer acts as a teacher, guide, resource, and certainly as a motivator. They not only teach and guide through the right exercises in order to accomplish your goals, but they hold you accountable and keep you on course. I always liked having someone to go work out with because they hold you accountable to actually show up. But let’s face it, when working out with a friend, we are sometimes guilty of doing more socializing and chatting than actually doing the work out we’re supposed to be focused on. This is where a personal trainer can really come in handy – when working with them you won’t be talking each other into cutting your work out short so you can go shopping or go out for ice cream!

Also, the priceless benefit of working with a trainer is that they will make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly to keep you safe. This is certainly a huge benefit.

These trainers have had to go through intense studying and hands-on practical training to get certified. At one time in my life I considered being a personal trainer because it’s another great profession in which you can help people. When I looked into it I discovered that the time and training you have to dedicate to becoming a personal trainer is no easy task. It’s not a case of going to a day-long workshop and leaving with a certificate in your hand. Classes, a lot of studying, and intense testing on multiple levels are all required – very impressive. I guess you could say it’s like learning to be a doctor – a doctor of physical fitness. You have to be educated and if you don’t prove that you have gained the knowledge, then you do not become a trainer- which is a good thing, because in that profession you absolutely better know what you’re doing!

So the point of my blog entry here is to recognize personal trainers and that if you have specific fitness goals in mind, whether to lose weight, increase strength, or find your abs, consider using a personal trainer to help you adequately reach your goal. You may do only one full session to walk away with the right work out plan for your body type and goals. Or, you may work continuously with a trainer so you can stay on track. Either way, I can guarantee that you will benefit from the experience!

A big shout out to all the personal trainers out there who help others reach their fitness goals!  Thank you for all that you do! To my local team of trainers at the Gold’s Gym in Lexington, SC – you guys and gals rock! I see you helping people daily and it’s such a great thing to see. And to my personal trainers, Rebekah and Michelle, you ladies are the bomb! 🙂

Me and my amazing trainer, Rebekah Dockery. Talk about leading by example -this lady’s body is incredible!

Me and my amazing trainer, Rebekah Dockery. Talk about leading by example -this lady’s body is incredible!

Apricot Glazed Chicken Skewers

By: Brady Evans

One of our friends called to say he needed to come by our house and pick something up.

“Ask him over for dinner!” I begged in silent mouthing and hand gestures. Any excuse to cook for a crowd…


I’d like to think that if we didn’t live in the middle of nowhere we’d have people over all the time. We’ve got cool animals to look at, lots of land to stroll around on, a yard for friends to bring their dogs for running around, a lake for swimming, a porch for sitting, 19 (I exaggerate) guitars for strumming…

SkewersBut we do live in the middle of nowhere, and our house isn’t on the way to or from any place except for the boonies. So when someone comes over, I know I’ve got to choose a winner of a recipe to keep them coming back for more. This one definitely fit the bill.

Apricot Glazed Chicken Skewers (adapted from Fine Cooking via Pink Parsley)


  • 3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce


  1. Combine 2 teaspoons of the rosemary, the brown sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  2. Place the chicken in a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken and toss to coat well.
  4. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (400-450 F), and oil the grates lightly.
  5. While the grill is heating, thread the chicken cubes onto skewers. If using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water for 15 minutes prior to threading meat onto them.
  6. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the remaining teaspoon of rosemary, the apricot preserves, a pinch of salt, and the soy sauce in a small saucepan. Set over low heat and stir just until the mixture is heated through. Remove from heat.
  7. Arrange the kebabs on the grill and cook, turning every 3 minutes or so, until they are slightly charred on all sides and cooked through, about 12-15 minutes total. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, coat the kabobs with the apricot glaze using a pastry brush on all sides.
  8. Transfer the kebabs to a platter to rest for about 5 minutes. Serve with the remaining apricot sauce.

My Culinary Kid

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I grew up hating fish.  I was fine with shrimp, lobster and scallops, but I didn’t like anything with fins.  When I first met my (now) husband, he was baffled about how anyone could dislike fish.  One evening, we were with a bunch of friends in the bar at Harper’s, where we ordered some dinner.  When our plates arrived, I looked over at my husband to see that he was happily chewing a horribly undercooked piece of chicken breast.  I practically Tunadove on top of him and wrestled the fork from his hand to, you know, save him from a most certain death from raw chicken.  As the hubbub died down, he said something along the lines of “what the  ____ are you doing?” As I pointed out the raw, pink meat he was chowing down on, he shook his head and said, “Elizabeth, this is tuna.”

And so it began.  He was determined to “teach” me to eat fish. Well, here we are 16 years later and I’ve mastered tuna, salmon, tilapia, flounder, grouper and snapper. And, now we have a child involved.  The last thing I want to do is taint her tastes by inserting my own opinions about likes and dislikes or tales of picky childhood eating. But, I must admit…in the back of my mind I thought, “surely she won’t like fish. She’s just a kid.”  I started her out on shrimp, then moved to lobster (which she immediately loved and asks for all the time) and then I decided to get bold and serve some salmon. Guess what? The child devoured it, gave it her signature “10 thumbs up” rating and has now had several varieties of fresh salmon, as well as smoked salmon. Both are on her list of favorites. I am blown away by this, but also really proud of her, and a little proud of myself for succeeding in not transferring my childhood anti-fishness onto her.

So recently I decided to introduce her to another finned friend. I rubbed Cajun seasoning on tilapia fillets, grilled them in my grill pan with a little bit of butter, and served the fish and sauce over grits and collards. I crossed my fingers as I set the plates on the table. Guess what? She did it again!  Loved every bite and before dinner was finished, she asked if I’d make it again the next day.

Now, I’m beside myself. My child likes fish. This is a good thing. Fish is good for us. It keeps us from getting chicken-day-after-day-boredom syndrome. Yes, this is a very good thing indeed.

Here’s the funny part of this tale.  A few days ago, my husband and I had eaten late in the day, so were just going to make supper for the little one. He offered to cook her some salmon, which he was already in the process of thawing.  But then came the curveball.  “Daddy, I’d really rather have tilapia.”  He proceeded to tell her that the salmon was almost ready to be cooked and that we’d have tilapia next time. She was not happy. When my daughter is upset or angry about something, she writes it down and delivers it to you in the form of a letter, a note or even pictures.  She disappeared for a few minutes and returned with an 8”x11” piece of paper with one word scrawled across it.

T o l o p i a


She’s quite good at sounding out words that she’s not sure about. Well, my husband took one look at this note and realized that the salmon would have to wait until another day. He cooked up some tilapia and veggies and all was right with the world. I guess the moral of the story is: if you get your child eating fish, let her choose which one she wants to eat. ElizabethDidn’t Confucius say that?  🙂

Elizabeth writes about food, cooking, and other culinary adventures at Gastronomy (by a Wanna-Be Chef).  You can also “like” her page on Facebook.

DASH Eating Plan – More Than Just Another Diet

By: Katie Austin

KatieOkay, I know what you are all thinking. Not another diet!  But wait – don’t rule this out yet. I believe anytime there is a new idea to help us live healthier lives, we owe it to ourselves to at least consider it. This diet may not fit everyone’s needs or lifestyles, but it is worth looking into.

I know, and have known for months, that I need to make a change. You would think that after battling breast cancer, I would be eating healthy and working out to get in the best shape of my life. Well, let me tell you, I am not so now it is time for a change! I am hoping my newly found motivation, this diet plan, and exercising a few days a week will help me reach my health goal. Simply put, I want to be able to get up in the morning without hurting all over and have the energy to do all the things I love to do. Easier said than done, but I believe in myself and the ability to change, which is half the battle!

So, what is the DASH Diet? The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet was developed by the National Institutes of Health as a suggested way of eating to lower blood pressure without medication. Research has shown that the DASH Diet lowers the risk of several types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney stones, reduced risk of developing diabetes, and can slow the progression of kidney disease. Enough said for this girl to try this diet! 🙂

DASHHow does the diet work? The DASH Diet includes healthy eating from all food groups. The suggested foods are high in fiber, low to moderate in fat and low in sodium. The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution turbo charges weight loss with a powerful plan based on previously overlooked DASH research. Because it has an emphasis on real foods and fruits and vegetables, it is both filling and satisfying.

Foods in this plan include:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low fat or non-dairy foods
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • Fats and sweets

Knowing that this plan is flexible and offers a variety of foods to eat, I am ready to take the plunge and see how this goes!  I will be sure to bring back what I learn, good and bad, and hopefully this will be the eating plan I have been looking for. More to come and I will follow up with a progress report in a future blog post 🙂

For more information about the DASH Diet, visit

Take care and God bless each of you!

A Naturally Sweet Treat

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

When you have a sweet tooth and want to stay on track, here’s a nice treat. They’re good and easy, plus they use ingredients that you probably already have around the house. All that and no sugar!



  • 3 smashed bananas (ripe work best)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup milk (I use light vanilla soy)
  • 1/2 cup raisins*
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

* If you don’t like raisins, you can experiment with other add-ins; I made a batch with dried cranberries that were delightful.


  1. Mix well.
  2. Drop tablespoonfuls onto prepared (non-stick spray or parchment paper) cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

What is YOUR favorite healthy sweet tweet?