Getting On My Nerves And Off My Chest

By: Lara Winburn 

In my last blog post I was gearing up to lace up my sneakers for the LexMed Heart & Sole 5 Miler. Let me just say I am slow moving and my shoes are barely tied. I would love to write a post about my training success, the running endorphins, and how I cannot wait for sciatic-nervethe next mile. Unfortunately, at the risk of sounding like a whiner, this post-baby body is keeping me more in the tortoise category hoping to be a hare.

Before I started training I noticed I was having some sciatic nerve pain. This pain (like a litany of other ailments) started during my first pregnancy. If you have never been blessed with sciatic nerve pain, it starts in your rump and runs down your leg. I have only known one thing to remedy this, so I went back to my physical therapist who had “fixed” me before. After being sidelined by my physical therapist, I spent a few weeks just walking…slowly.

Then I felt like my legs were ready to cooperate, but my lungs were not. I am now in day nine of antibiotics and still struggling with stupid bronchitis. Turns out when you have bronchitis you should lay off the running as well. And I can’t even blame that on the post-baby body.

So here is what I am aiming for now….I have a solid six weeks of training if my lungs are given the “all clear” on Friday. Six weeks is plenty of time, right? 42 days, minus a few resting days here and there. Who’s with me? I have the schedule in hand and I am ready to go. I’ll keep you posted.

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders

By: Brady Evans 

Some would see it as a perk: living pretty far away from any take-out options.  No sabotaging your diet with fast food.  No temptation to be lazy.  No wasted money on ready-made food when you have a full pantry…

Others, like my husband, would see it as punishment.

I am always all for cooking at home when the other option is going to town for dinner.  Spending over an hour in the car just to eat just isn’t efficient.  My husband doesn’t seem to care as much but that’s probably because he does the dishes.  Going out to eat = less work for him.

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders

When I decided to make this meal he was really, really bucking for a meal out.  By the time we would have gotten to the restaurant these delicious lemon glazed Asian chicken tenders were on the table.  They were sweet and sticky and sour.  Just delicious!  For leftovers they made an awesome Asian-inspired wrap.  Make these as guilt-full or guilt-free as you feel by either deep frying or baking chicken tenders (frozen or homemade!).

Lemon Glazed Chicken Tenders (Adapted from Damn Delicious via Stephanie Cooks)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenders, cooked to your preference
  • Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Diced green onions (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  • Arrange cooked chicken tenders in an oven-safe baking dish. Pour the sauce over top, flipping so both sides are coated. Bake 10 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and dish is warmed through. Top with scallions, if desired.

Puttin’ On My Face

By: Lydia Scott

I’ve never liked being in front of a camera, which is why I make myself do it. My job needs it, my hobbies need it, my confidence needs it. I got made fun of a LOT as a kid, and my first marriage reinforced that same confidence-killing concept, so I spend time trying to reverse 35 years of damage. Now, I try to take pictures instead of running from them. Still hate it though, hahaha! And I can see, as a 42-year-old woman, my face is starting to really show how much character it’s loaded with. Add to that the fact that it used to be poofed up with 145 lbs more of soft chubbiness, well…the wrinkles are peaking. I see my face changing. Okay, fine…we can deal with that, right?

But I also see my make-up making the lines of time look worse. Aww heck naw, y’all!! Can’t have that. Who wants to look MORE tired than you are or MORE weathered than you do with nekkid skin? Not this chick. I enjoy trying to look polished, but not because I’m an old shoe. I like my outside to at least kinda reflect some of the inside, ya know?

SELFIES

I recently took a good look at some selfies and at the mirror, and realized my make-up needed an update. The type of eyeliner, application, and face make-up weren’t doing me any favors. And I needed favors! So I appealed to my beautiful and knowledgeable friends for suggestions. I also told them I don’t believe in pricy make-up, so if I can’t buy it at Target or CVS, it ain’t gonna happen. And they didn’t let me down! They gave me some great product and application tips, and I’m going to share the ones I tried, plus a couple I went out on a limb with. I didn’t include mascara or lipstick in this update because I didn’t change anything. I stuck with the Maybelline Big Eyes Falsies mascara, and my Victoria’s Secret lip-gloss with a tiny smudge of rose lip liner.

My favorites

My favorites

EYE LINER

Of course, black liner is no longer my friend. Instead, gray, brown, bronze, taupe, and plum seem to be much better selections for my middle-aged, fair-and-cool-tone skin, dark hair, and brown/hazel eyes. Suggestions included Urban Decay liner pencils, shadow sticks used as liner, Wet N Wild pencils (surprisingly good!), and gel liners.

What I tried: L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hour gel liner in Bronze. I have super sensitive eyes. I can’t get anything even a little moist (pen or liquid liners) in my eyes, so gel made me nervous. But you know me and my crazy risk-taking antics!!

Verdict: Holy smokes, it’s awesome!!! Put just a little on the paintbrush that comes with it and you get a softer look. Put more on the brush for a heavier look. It stays put with no irritation. Score!

EYE SHADOW

I never seem to be happy with eye shadow, so getting a recommendation from a photographer who works with a bunch of models was gold for me. She suggested the L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hour eye shadows, with a focus on soft pink and brown.

What I tried: I got a few pots in soft pink, cocoa, and amber. I also picked up a set of eye shadow brushes. A lot of their colors are super glittery, so I used a little of the glitter and more of the creamy matte, and I got a nice blend.

Verdict: These do not disappear as the day wears on, you don’t need more than one swipe to get great color, and there’s no creasing! I really love the quality, the price (around $7 each), the color selection, and that they don’t irritate my eyes.

Facelift magic: Another trick I learned was using eyeshadow base. For fair-toned skin, look for an illuminating oyster color dry cream that’s basically like creamy eyeshadow. It primes your lid for the shadow so it goes on smooth and the colors pop a little more and stay on longer. The big trick I was taught though, was to swipe it under my eye, under the eyelash line from corner to corner. I even took it a little further down close to the dark circles I swear I don’t have. *Cough* Trust me. Do it. Instant facelift, or at worst you’ll like you had a great night’s sleep. I bought the tube of Rimmel Eyeshadow Primer, and it’s very nice, and not super glittery. (Do you see a pattern here?) NYC also sells an eye shadow set that includes a base and an illuminator. I got the one for brown eyes to try it out. The illuminator works decently as an eye shadow base. The shadows don’t stay on very well, but it’s not a bad set for the few bucks it costs`!

My new look

My new look

FACE

I also decided to use a liquid foundation instead of sticking with my lifelong devotion to powders and powder foundations. The powders were not laying on my skin right anymore. They were starting to make the wrinkles stand out and my skin look more haggard. I never liked cream or liquid foundations because every single one made my pores noticeable. But now, I just felt like my skin needs the creaminess.

What I tried: Being in the L’Oreal section already, I happened to see that L’Oreal now had a line of make-up to go with that sample tube of Invisible Lift Blur eye cream I found several weeks ago and loved. Okay, I thought, let’s give it a whirl! So, in the Invisible Lift make-up section, I bought the tube of foundation, the tube of correcting concealer for eyes with the cold rollerball at the tip, and the tube of blush. Admittedly, blush in a tube was a little scary, but again, that daredevil in me just told me to go for it! I also bought the True Match powder, because ya know…powder sets it all! But just a little. I also bought a set of those make-up sponges to use to smooth all the creamy goop over my skin because somebody somewhere said it made it work better. Might as well go for the gusto!

Verdict: Oh Em Gee. OH EM GEE. I am actually impressed at how smoothly it all went on, and how close to flawless it looked when done. No crazy pore dots showing through, either! The blush looked fluorescent until I rubbed it in (yes, fluorescent!), and then it was fresh and dewy! And I didn’t feel like I was wearing a cloak of armor over my skin either. And indeed, the sponge did seem to make a difference! Happy happy happy!

My new look

My new look

So, I’m pretty happy with my friends’ suggestions, because they helped me feel a little less frumpy and grumpy. That’s what friends are for!

Graze: Snacking Reinvented

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Don’t you just love it when things come together just right? A while back, I posted information about my favorite subscription box from Greatist. Sadly, the subscription box service was recently discontinued. In a seemingly unrelated matter, I experienced a new challenge in my ongoing quest to eat clean and healthy: a lack of good, healthy and low-calorie snacks. Then, faster than you could say “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” came Graze, a new subscription box that features healthy snacks and solves both of my problems!

Graze

Quite simply, Graze delivers tasty, healthy snacks by mail for just $6 a box. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose the foods you want. You check out the selection of foods that could appear in your box and rate them as trash, try, like or love. With the Nibble Box, there are over 90 choices; with the Calorie Counter Box, which features snacks with 150 calories or less, there are over 50 choices.
  2. Tell Graze where to send your box. Since I have a hard time finding and/or packing good snacks for the work week, I have mine sent to the office.
  3. Graze mails your box via USPS weekly or every other week, a choice you make when you sign up. I chose weekly because I need snacks on a weekly basis, and $6 for healthy, portion controlled snacks is a deal and a half!
  4. You enjoy your snacks! Graze promises that their snacks contain no genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors or colors, high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.

I’m a couple of weeks into my Graze subscription, and I love it! It’s convenient, inexpensive and delicious. And every box I receive is a special treat especially for me!

Commitment shy? You can try a one-time box without having a subscription. And if you subscribe and find it’s not for you, you can cancel with no penalty.

Christmas in July

By: Leah Prescott

Christmas in JulyI am not sure who started the “Christmas in July” trend. I assume it was some kind of retailer just looking to boost their summer sales, but I’d like to go on record by formerly endorsing Christmas in July as a fantastic idea. By mid-summer things are really heating up here in South Carolina; kids are getting bored, mamas are getting cranky. December is a season that many of us look forward to all year long, but the holidays can also be a remarkably stressful time for many families. Using July as a time to plan ahead for the holidays is a great way to keep the angst down and enjoy the Peace & Joy once December actually rolls around. Here are some ways I am hoping to make this happen for my family:

  1. Organize Gift Lists. Many of you true planners started doing this in January and I commend you (and sort of hate you). For the rest of us, there is still time to get great deals on thoughtful gifts without wandering the aisles of Target in a panic on December 23rd. (Not that I’ve ever done that.) Check out The Christmas Gift List (free in the App Store) if you want a countdown to December 25th while also keeping track of what you have or have not purchased. If you have a gift in mind and want to find a deal, try setting up a free account at www.slickdeals.net where you can set deal alerts for keywords such as “Tickle Me Elmo” or “Cabbage Patch Doll.” The website will email you when these words appear in posts compiled from contributors across the web. No excuses for throwing together last minute baskets of bath and body products or handing someone a gift card with a bow on it. Unless that’s what you really want to buy them, in which case, by all means go ahead.
  2. Budget your time, ahead of time. If your goal for the holidays is to run around like a chicken with its head cut off, then full speed ahead. I can give you home videos of me circa 2008 for tips. But if you’d prefer to have a softer, slower holiday, there are steps you can take to keep things a little more laid back. Start by making a list of goals for the holidays. Rather than focus on tasks to be accomplished, think about the overall picture you want to create. My list includes things like: more quality time with family, less focus on “stuff,” sharing meals with neighbors, visiting friends, giving to those in need. When creating your list, you may realize there are things that should be dropped from your yearly agenda. Holiday cards are fun, but if making and sending them is cutting into family time, this might be the year to share a Facebook greeting and let the snail mail slide. No one will judge you. Or at least they shouldn’t.
  3.  It’s always Christmas on Pinterest. My point is, if you want to make everyone on your list a Mason Jar Snow globe, or create elaborate holiday decorations from coffee filters, or finally bake the perfect carrot cake from scratch (this is the one you want- AMAZING) now is the time start pinning those recipes and tutorials. It’s such a bummer when the ideal project idea pops up on Instagram on December 26th and you realize that you should have made it. I am just trying to spare you this pain! This past year we made a lot of crafts for friends and family members and it was so much fun. The fact that we started early kept it stress-free. I tell myself, if I start pinning ideas now, it will give me time to shop for supplies, conduct a trial run, and accommodate all the mistakes and miscalculations I will undoubtedly encounter. If you’d like projects that the kids can help create, take a look at http://martha.ms/1skRyuW.
  4. Pre-post-holiday Dieting. That’s right, I mean eat healthy now. Rather than facing the holidays with pounds to lose, why not get ahead of the game by changing up your eating habits or adding a new exercise class to beat the January blues before they happen? There is plenty of time to make progress towards improving your health, and you’ll have yet another reason to celebrate once the party season starts. Once you have made progress it will be easier to moderate over the holidays. I started a new diet a few months ago and I am determined not to let things slide, so that I can have control going into November. I have used www.myfitnesspal.com and the My Fitness Pal App. It combines calorie counting with social media to help you meet diet and fitness goals. I have had great luck with it in the past and you can get your friends to join you, making it fun like Facebook (well, sort of).

In December 2013 I made a radical (and fairly spontaneous) decision NOT TO SHOP over the holiday season. I realized that my hobby of recreational shopping was cutting into time with my kids, putting stress on my relationship with my husband and jeopardizing our budget as well. December seemed like the perfect time to put all that aside and really focus on the true meaning of this special season. It was hard for me to stop shopping and there were some tricky logistical issues (did I forget my sister’s wedding was in January? Hello, shoes, gifts, accessories?). But I definitely achieved my goal of having less stress, less spending, and less focus on STUFF, and the results were much better than I imagined. The bottom line is, for our family, a December without shopping was a great choice. I’m not suggesting that everyone quit shopping in December. Instead I am saying that you can take control of the holidays by changing the game plan. You can write the story you want to tell next year and now is the time to start.

Only 162 days to go!

Pondering and People Watching…

By: Shannon Shull

There can be an art to people watching. If you are a non-judgmental people watcher, then you watch and you ponder. You ponder why they are where they are, what they do for a living, what hardships they may be going through, what heartbreaking or joyful things may be lying under their surface, what their real lives are like. You don’t pass judgment based on how they look; you just ponder what their world might be like.

In working my way through SC’s PACE Program to get my teacher’s certificate, I have spent my share of time in public places like Starbucks, the library and even poolside as I attempt to read all the required material and write the many required papers and journal entries.  These public places help hold me accountable to get my work done and not fall asleep, but they also provide a sometimes welcome distraction to people watch.

The key to people watching is to not judge the person by their cover. I learned that lesson long ago during my days of living in Los Angeles. At times, you could walk into a restaurant and the fella dressed in sweats and sneakers would be the wealthiest and the fella with the gold Rolex and sharp suit would be the most hard up for money. In my lifetime, I’ve met some men and women who were literally covered in tattoos who had hearts of gold and would give you the shirt off their back. And on the flip side, I’ve met straight laced, preppy, supposed Christian folk who, underneath the façade, were the most hypocritical, messed up people I’d ever met. I have friends of all shapes, colors and sizes and they are all beautiful in so many different ways, inside and out.  So throughout my almost 40 years of life, I’ve learned a valuable lesson: that to pass judgment without knowing a person’s story is an incredible injustice.

If done from a non-judgmental point of view, the art of people watching can bring a smile to your face and warm your heart if you allow it. Consider what special talents these people may have, what they offer the world, what their passions or dreams may be. There are benefits to people watching – you may be inspired and reminded of just how precious and short life is. And, the best benefit of all, you may just make a friend.

One day during one of my intense teacher training, I had to read a torturous book. We’re talking material that could easily help you fall asleep. One of those books in which you find yourself having to read a paragraph 4 times before it actually sinks in.

PoolWell, staying at home was not going to get me anywhere with that book except with my face flat in the book, sound asleep, so I decided to go to the neighborhood pool to read, in hopes that the activity at the pool would help keep me awake. As I watched the people at the pool – the mother fussing at her daughters for playing too rough, the two older women reading books that were clearly giving them a fabulous escape, the mother struggling to wrangle her toddler and keep him happy, the father constantly on his phone, the teens chatting about tans and boys, and the older gentleman splashing about having a blast with a group of young ones. I sat fascinated by the life happening around me.

My insecurities got the best of me and I wondered what these people may be thinking of me. Eventually a lady came by and said to me, “So what college do you go to?  What are you studying there?”  She thought I was a college student! Woo hoo! Now she could’ve assumed that I was an older college student, but nonetheless she thought I was a student. I smiled and told her I was a teacher and attempting to do the required reading for a big training. She had made an assumption based on what she saw. Our conversation led to a friendship. She too was a teacher. It was a lovely moment. I later saw her at a different pool visit. I had four kids in tow, two of them my own, and she definitely saw me in a different light.

Life is interesting. And people watching can be an experiment to challenge you to think the best of people, trying not to make negative assumptions or pass judgment too quickly. And, if you’re lucky, it can provide an opportunity to be pleasantly surprised by another human being and you might even make a new friend.

Local Trips

By: Sherree Thompson

Our family has been quite the road-running group this summer. We have taken mostly day trips, but we have had a few over night ones as well. Yes, I know, summer just started, but what can I say?

Table Rock

Table Rock

Our fist trip was actually before school was out. We headed to the mountains to show the kids what a mountain actually is. Since Table Rock is so close we thought hey, why not? After all, I don’t think one can really describe its beauty in terms a 4-year-old can fully grasp. They need to see some things themselves to get the true impact of such a sight.  Jay and I have hiked Table Rock before so we knew it wasn’t something we could have our little ones tackle quite yet. We did, however, hit the base of it to show them the creeks and to spend some time goofing around. We also checked out the waterfall, which was stunning, although the kids didn’t think so. One day they will appreciate it, but just not yet.

Table Rock

Table Rock

Next we had a fantastic beach day at The Isle of Palms. What a fun place that was! We parked in a county (at least I think it was county) park right at the beach. There were bathrooms (real bathrooms, not a port-a-john), changing rooms, a playground, grilling areas and even a small snack cart in case you needed a little treat. It really was the perfect spot for a family fun day!

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms

Then over Father’s Day we headed out for our first “camping” trip with the kids. I say “camping” with a grain of salt because although we had a fantastic time and the facilities turned out to be truly appropriate for a first outing, it wasn’t what we had thought it was going to be. We headed down to James Island. We thought we would save a few bucks and get the “primitive” campsite and really give the kids a true woodsy camping experience.

Camping

Camping

We got there kind of late…okay, we were late. It was after-dark late. We checked in and headed to our spot. We parked, walked to the entrance trail, and saw a giant football field. There were tents pretty much along the entire boarder of the field. We laughed at our “primitive” spot and carried on with our setup. As we were heading back to the car we noticed frogs everywhere. Not like one here or there, but like you had to really watch where you step or you would squish one. The kids really enjoyed playing “spot the frog.” The kids did great sleeping in the tent, even though we forfeited our dry run of camping in the back yard.

Folly Beach

This county park was really geared towards families. They had a splash pad, bike trails, a water park and free access to Folly Beach. Folly Beach was awesome. There was a channel that runs along the shoreline. During high tide it fills and then it’s super suitable for small kids. I think we had more fun in the channel than in the actual ocean waves.

Let me just say that for each of these trips, we maybe spent $150. The county and state park system is a true jewel on the wallet. Anyway, in addition to this, I have had the pleasure of reading the book of John with some really great ladies, meeting a cool bee keeper in Sumter, eating some delicious BBQue from different parts of the state, and celebrating a sweet someone turning three.

So there it is – well, the highlights anyway. This type of schedule will continue on, my house will remain a mess, but we will be living life and enjoying all that South Carolina has to offer. May you find yourself in such a place! Happy Summer!!