Thoughts While Walking Back in Time

By: Jeanne Reynolds

If you find yourself in the most beautiful and charming of cities, Charleston, on a sunny spring day with the luxury of a free afternoon, the choices seem endless. Tour a historic house or visit an art gallery? Lunch and libations overlooking the water? Shopping on King Street?

All good, but to me, nothing can top a few hours strolling back in time through the gardens at Middleton Place. Here are some random thoughts from a recent visit I was fortunate to enjoy:

– Azalea beds are the only place pink, orange and red not only don’t clash but actually look amazing.

– What’s more important to enjoying the Lowcountry: no heat, no humidity or no gnats? Answer: Yes. Enjoy it while you can.

– A dogwood tree in full bloom festooned with Spanish moss looks like a decorated wedding cake.

– A single alligator attracts more excited attention than a whole field of flowers.

– The malicious destruction of beauty in an attempt to crush the hope of enemies is really sad.

– The amount of money, labor and, most of all, vision it took to create these gardens is mind-boggling — not to mention what it must take to maintain them today.

– Southern accents are generally more pleasing to the ear than those from “off.”

– Being led beside still waters really does restoreth my soul (I didn’t lie down in green pastures but I saw people who did).

– Bees will usually leave you alone if you leave them alone (at least one person lying in the green pasture didn’t think so).

– Looking closely at the intricate design of some flowers: Wow. Just wow.

– There are probably a lot of ghosts here, but I hope this incredible beauty is bringing them peace now.

Charleston

By: Brady Evans

CharlestonI keep starting and deleting this post over and over again. I sort of don’t want to talk about the Charleston shooting. It totally needs to be talked about, though, and the more we ignore it the more we validate the shooter (in my opinion).

Racial tensions have been brewing. The majority (white) foolishly thought things were good. It is easy to think that way when you are in the majority. It is easy to ignore and make excuses for institutional racism when you aren’t a victim of it. It is easy to say he was just a “crazed gunman” when it wasn’t your own people who died just for being black. The truth of the matter is that there is a big divide in the United States. And if we don’t confront it, we’ll continue to fall victim to it.

I think a great place to start is simply educating yourself on some facts.

5 Disturbing Facts on Black-White Inequality (via CNN Money)

US Education: Still Separate and Unequal (via US News & World Report)

Criminal Justice Fact Sheet (via NAACP)

None of these links is meant to point fingers at anyone. They are just meant to inform.  Once you read the statistics about majority vs. minority in the U.S. it is easy to see that the system is not set up for equal attainment. People of color are not fundamentally less intelligent, less hardworking, and less moral so why do the statistics show that they make less money, have lower levels of education, and are incarcerated more?

It is painful and awkward to talk about these things – I know. But it must happen. It must be addressed. And the first step is knowledge. Yes, pray for Charleston but also pray for our country.

Charleston

By: Chaunte McClure

Last week I made a healthy decision to put my job, assignments and church duties aside to enjoy myself.

A girlfriend’s getaway to Charleston, S.C. last weekend included a group of 20-something to almost-40-year-olds and the birthday girl, who turned the big 4-5.

The beach would have been ideal on a sweltering hot day, but not everyone likes the beach, and since we were celebrating a birthday, it was only right to do what the birthday girl would appreciate.

Since she’s a self-proclaimed foodie, I thought we’d take her somewhere out of the ordinary. Charleston is a food destination with several restaurants and chefs that have been nominated for a James Beard Award. There are endless dining options in downtown Charleston, but I suggested we experience something different, so we headed off the beaten path, down a gravel road.

Bowens Island Restaurant

A couple of times I heard, “Where are we going?” Before we got to our dining spot, the driver was quick to say, “Chaunte chose this.” We saw a huge sign that read, “Bowens Island Restaurant.” We passed two huge houses along the way that everyone admired. Perhaps that eased their concerns a little before seeing cars – lots of cars – parked haphazardly near the restaurant, a large wood structure with a winding ramp leading to its doors with a porch that wraps around the waterfront dive.

Bowen's Island Restaurant

That’s exactly what it is – a dive. I warned the crew that there was no need to get cute for this outing. Shorts and a T-shirt would do. No linen tablecloths or napkins here. Matter of fact, you can leave your mark on the walls. Seriously. Remember how you used to write graffiti on desks when you were in school? Okay, well, your friends did. At Bowens Island Restaurant, you can freely write on the walls and we did, as we waited for our food.

Bowen's Island Restaurant

In case you decide to take a road trip to try this place out, choose a table when you enter and let someone sit there while you place your orders because the place fills up fast. We made it inside in just the knick of time last Friday. By the time I got to the register, the line stretched to the door! They’ll bring your food out to you, but listen carefully for your name while you’re chatting with family and friends. Actually, they’ll yell it loud enough.

Bowen's Island Restaurant

Bowens Island Restaurant serves fresh seafood and I think everyone ordered something different. A couple of us shared our food because our taste buds were curious. I had the seafood platter: a heaping helping of whiting, shrimp, crab cakes and fries. You can’t have fish without hot sauce, so I piled it on. My other friends had everything from Frogmore stew to the big ol’ seafood platter. We were full when we left, but we made sure to take a few selfies. One of the twenty-something millennials brought along her selfie stick and we put it to use the whole weekend.

Charleston Girls Weekend

We obviously stayed up too late Friday night working on vision boards because we missed our 10:00 a.m. spa appointments. However, the early bird in the group rescheduled our appointments for much needed manicures, pedicures and massages. Off to Aqua Day Spa we went and had lunch at Hyman’s, a Charleston classic where many celebrities have been sited. And again, we had seafood. You can’t go to Charleston and not have seafood. This time I didn’t have much room for it because I was still full from breakfast. That didn’t stop me from having fried green tomatoes or crab dip before my entrée arrived.

Before heading back to Columbia, we braved the heat and strolled through the Charleston Market. It was a weekend that can be summed up as: good memories and good conversations while celebrating a good friend.

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Photo credit: Rev. Effson Bryant

It’s hard to believe that one week later, the very city where we were celebrating would be overcome with grief, yet overwhelmed with the love and support of thousands, maybe even millions. Life is filled with swift transitions and Wednesday’s massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church quickly changed the Holy City’s scene.

I was having dinner at a local restaurant after leaving church Wednesday night when I read this Facebook post: “My prayers and thoughts go out to my old friend Senator Clementa Pinckney and his congregation.” I gasped. The name was all too familiar. Then I saw this headline: Reports: Shooting in Downtown Charleston Leave at Least 8 Dead. I immediately said ‘Oh my God, oh my God,’ while holding my chest. I hurried home and turned on the TV, hoping the news I read was not true. I waited and waited to find out the victims’ names.

I am an A.M.E. so this hit close to home for me. One of those victims was a fellow A.M.E. preacher. As a matter of fact, a few of them were and I naturally put myself in their shoes because I could have easily been a victim. I am black. I am a member of a historic A.M.E. church, and I was in church Wednesday night as the incident unfolded.

The news of the tragedy hurt like I knew the victims personally, but I didn’t. It was hard to focus Thursday and it was hard to focus Friday. It was hard to believe that such a horrific crime happened to such wonderful (innocent) people, in what should be a well-respected place: the church.

My heart goes out to everyone involved and to the grieving families. Remember, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) David cried out to God in a time of desperate need, saying, “but You, O Lord, are a shield about me, 
My glory, and the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain.”

I pray that God will comfort and strengthen the families and friends of the Charleston Nine in the days to come.

Vacationing Close To Home

By: Shannon Shull

Vacationing close to home… Just Do It!  Sometimes we think in order to take a true vacation, we have to book flights and take days off from work. Not so, I say, not so. Every one of our grand states has visit-worthy, intriguing locations. And goodness knows, though we’d love to have the time and money to take a week or more off to really do it up right and experience the ultimate vacation, most of our schedules and budgets just don’t allow that pleasure. Wouldn’t  ya just love to fly to Tahiti maybe? Journey to Italy? Skiing in Vale? An Alaskan cruise maybe? In my case, I’d love to visit friends in Los Angeles and New York or head back to one of the many places I’ve gotten to visit for work, but never had the pleasure to experience as a vacation…Las Vegas, Aruba, & Colorado.

Truth is, most of us just don’t have the time, much less the money, to make a glorious mac-daddy vacation happen. So how does one escape and get that oh-so-priceless getaway to re-charge and step away from the day-to-day grind? Vacation close to home! Seriously, it can be done.

The Pineapple Fountain, Charleston, SC

The Pineapple Fountain, Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC - an ulitimate vacation destination

Charleston, SC – an ulitimate vacation destination

I am lucky enough to live in the South and we have a wealth of vacation-worthy locations to choose from within a very short driving distance. I recently managed to take a quick weekend getaway – a little birthday celebration escape – to the amazing, rich with history, glorious, Charleston, SC.  I didn’t even take the whole weekend, just a one night, almost two-day escape from my enormous, overwhelming to-do list. Yes, I admit, it was a bit of a tease. It was very hard to leave, to say the least. But, it was still a refreshing getaway that helped invigorate me so that I will HOPEFULLY have a little bit more energy to survive the mountain of stress that is my life.

Charleston shines

Charleston shines

Gorgeous architecture...

Gorgeous architecture…

The gorgeous architecture of Charleston, SC

The gorgeous architecture of Charleston, SC

Growing up in the ole South, so close to Charleston, SC, one can tend to take it for granted.  I had the pleasure of visiting this grand locale last year for one of my many Zumba training sessions. But for some reason, with this recent getaway, though very short, I was reminded of the historical beauty of Charleston, SC. Not to mention, the incredible food and shopping opportunities! I think I could’ve spent days just taking pictures of the architecture. Needless to say, I have developed a great appreciation for Charleston and all its glory. It is certainly vacation-worthy – even if it’s only for a day trip.

Lookie Lookie...

Lookie Lookie…

The most amazing She-Crab Soup at the restuarant Toast on Meeting Street!

The most amazing She-Crab Soup at the restuarant Toast on Meeting Street!

So my point with this blog entry is to remind you that you don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a fancy vacation. You can experience a lovely getaway in just a short drive within your own state! Allow yourself the chance to recharge and get away…take a vacation close to home.  😉

National Celebrities Step Up to the Plate for 3rd Annual Slim Down the South Celebrity Softball Challenge

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Support a great cause and enjoy a fall day in Charleston on Saturday, November 9 as celebrities near and far play in the 3rd Annual Slim Down the South Celebrity Softball Challenge for Louie’s Kids.

The event, which will be held on Saturday, November 9 at Joe Riley Park, raises funds for Louie’s Kids, the only not-for-profit organization in the United States helping identify treatment programs for overweight and obese children.

Slim Down the South Poster

This amazing ‘Field of Dreams’ day at the ballpark wouldn’t be possible without the participation and support of the following celebrities who have committed to fighting childhood obesity one run at a time:

  •  Bill Murray, Comedian/Actor
  • Mark Bryan, Hootie & the Blowfish
  • Dean Felber, Hootie & the Blowfish
  • Eric Bass, Shinedown
  • Zach Myers, Shinedown
  • Gary Valentine, Comedian/Actor, Chelsea Lately, King of Queens
  • Terry Serpico, Actor, Army Wives
  • Bubba Bryant, Actor, Army Wives
  • Paula Trickey, Actress, Crimes of the Mind, The OC, Pacific Blue
  • Sylvia Jefferies, Actress, Nashville, Eastbound and Down
  • Elise Testone, Singer, American Idol
  • Corey Miller, NFL, NY Giants, USC
  • Langston Moore, NFL, Bengals, USC
  • Gettys Glaze, Citadel Hall of Fame
  • Michael Kohn, MLB, LA Angels
  • Kevin Elster, MLB, NY Yankees, LA Dodgers
  • Hannah Curlee – Winner, Biggest Loser  
  • Steve Azar, Singer/Songwriter
  • Patrick Davis, Singer/Songwriter

Other celebrities include personalities from Charleston television and radio stations.

“We’re so grateful for the support of these celebrities,” said Louis Yuhasz, founder of Louie’s Kids. “The entire Louie’s Kids organization appreciates their willingness to take time out of their busy schedules to help raise awareness of childhood obesity. This one softball game will help children all over the south combat obesity and improve their future, families and communities.”

For more information on Louie’s Kids or Slim Down the South, visit LouiesKids.org or SlimDowntheSouth.com.

About Louie’s Kids
Founded in 2001 in Alexandria, Va., and operated today out of Charleston, SC, Louie’s Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds to empower children to make changes, both physically and mentally, for a healthier and more productive life. The mission of Louie’s Kids is to strengthen the future of the communities they serve by making children healthier and improved citizens, while also providing excellent stewardship to those funders who invest their time and treasure in the children served. For information and updates follow Louie’s Kids on Facebook and Twitter.

Old World Wonderful

By: Katie Austin

I recently came across a unique gift idea and just had to pass it along to my Every Woman Blog family!  I was on the hunt to find a wedding gift for my niece. I wanted it to be special- something that no one else would give them. It was during my trip to the City Market in Charleston, SC that I found what I was looking for and it was perfect!

I just love walking through the City Market and try to visit at least twice a year. As I perused the variety of items before me, I came across a booth for Old World Glass Studio. Their display of bottle creations caught my attention.

I had to walk over to get a closer look at the flattened bottles, which were standing upright with a wedding invitation attached to the back and with a small, decorated knife in the opening. They even went as far to add beading to the knife to match the invitation colors. I turned to my husband and said “This is perfect!”. And perfect it was, as it was a great way to capture the wedding invitation that the happy couple could display to remind them of their special day. They could be used as a cheese platter or simply put on display. I was so impressed that I am planning to dig out my wedding invitation to have one created!

The next time you are in Charleston be sure to stop by to check out their wonder work!  Or, you can visit their website or Facebook page at the links below.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-World-Glass-Studio/127402493963820

Website: http://oldworldglassstudio.com/