Kale Chronicles

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

kale

Earlier in the summer, I planted 3 kale plants. Several people questioned me about this.

“Isn’t it too hot here for kale?”

“Isn’t it really hard to grow?”

“How are you going to get that to work?”

Well, here we are mid-July and my tomatoes are over 7’ tall and producing next to nothing, my cucumbers are producing nothing but flowers, my zucchini is just toying with me as it slowly commits suicide, and the poblanos just flower away and laugh at the thought of actually putting out a pepper. But, my little kale plants just keep growing and growing and growing!

A few days ago, it was time to harvest again and from those three little plants, I got a gracious helping of fresh kale. Usually I just make kale chips for myself because every other time I’ve tried a dish involving kale, the husband and little one reject it. I’d pretty much just resigned myself to the belief that I am the sole kale consumer in this house. However, I stood there gazing at this beautiful, tender, fresh home-grown loveliness and thought, “How crazy is this? One of planet Earth’s superfoods and I’m the only one eating it? Not today.”

I’ve written before about one of the most awesome cookbooks in my collection, “How to Cook Without a Book” by Pam Anderson. I can’t remember where I found this book, but I truly love it and I recommend it highly. As you have surely gathered from the title, the point is to teach some basic recipes and techniques so that you can incorporate these standards into your regular life without having to put much thought into it. I often go here for inspiration and fresh ideas. On this day, I pulled the book out because Ms. Anderson has included numerous variations to the theme for each of her basic recipes. So for lunch, I turned our kale harvest into a simple pasta with leafy greens, bacon and crushed red pepper. I told no one what the greens were. I simply said, “Here honey, have some pasta” and down the hatch it went! I have been on a conscious quest to get more dark leafies into our household diet, so this was a big win.

If you don’t know much about kale, I’ll say this: it’s really, insanely good for you. If you’re like me and want to eat more of it and its other dark leafy cousins, you can get all the info you want online. Or, here’s another of my favorite cookbooks you may wish to seek out, “Leafy Greens” by Mark Bittman.

Elizabeth Akre is the author of “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)”. Read, comment & be merry!  You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.

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!

LMC Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Doula Program

Lexington Medical Center has a history of innovative firsts for women’s services. It was the first hospital in the Midlands to allow husbands in the delivery room, give epidurals
and offer Doulas to women in labor. In fact, Lexington Medical Center is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Doula program this year!

A doula is a birth coach who offers mothers comfort and reassurance during labor and delivery. In 1994, Lexington Medical Center began an innovative Doula program that was the first-of-its-kind in the Southeast. The program has received national recognition and serves as a benchmark for programs around the country. Thanks to support from the Lexington Medical Center Foundation and its donors, Doulas are a free service for any woman having a baby at Lexington Medical Center.

“Lexington Medical Center’s Doulas have been invaluable to the women of the Midlands,” said Nydia Harter, MSN, RN, NEA, BC, director of Nursing at Lexington Medical Center. “Over the past 20 years, they have supported thousands of women and families during one of the most important times of their lives – the birth of their babies.”

Doulas are experienced professionals who undergo training specific to assisting pregnant women and newborns. In addition to understanding the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of women in labor, Doulas also facilitate communication between parents-to-be, help prepare birth plans and provide information about birth and delivery options. Postpartum Doulas offer education, support and assistance to the new family. A Doula brings much-needed confidence to a new mother through breastfeeding support and advice, newborn care and assistance with household duties.

The Lexington Medical Center Foundation sponsors the hospital’s Doula program. LMC’s Doula program is based on the highest standards of care set by Doulas of North America (DONA), the largest doula association in the world.

Lexington Medical Center’s innovative Doula program has earned the prestigious Annie Kennedy Award from DONA. The award recognizes LMC Doulas for excellence and dedication to their community as well as growth and teamwork in their program.

Doulas

Doulas

Lexington Medical Center has 16 Doulas on staff and almost half of the Doulas have been with LMC for ten years or more. Since the LMC Doula program began, it has assisted more than 8,400 families.

Lexington Medical Center will recognize Lexington Medical Center’s past and present Doulas at a special reception on July 29th on the hospital campus. Former Doulas can contact the Lexington Medical Center Foundation at 791-2540 for more information on the event.

Doulas

To learn more about LMC’s Doula program, visit this link on the hospital’s website, http://bit.ly/1qrAIXl, or Lexington Medical Center’s Facebook page.

For information on training to become a doula, visit www.dona.org.

Better At The Beach

By: Lara Winburn

I recently read a satirical article from The Onion about how a vacation for a mom Beach vacationis really just the same old chores in a new locale. I have also heard many moms say “it is not a vacation, it is just a trip.” Though I agree with some of these observations, last week I was pleasantly surprised by the benefits of a beach vacation/trip that are often overlooked.

There was a definitely a time when my trip to the beach entailed multiple books, the latest celebrity gossip magazine, and not a care in the world. With children, as many of you know, that has all changed. However, I am not going to wax on about the tan, napping beach bum I once was. This year, I discovered something new. I noticed a few differences from our regular routine that I was particularly thankful for. We might be getting better at doing the beach.

  1. On the beach, there is nothing to climb. There are no ladders, slides, straight back chairs, or (even in the case of my one-year-old) coffee tables that one can venture on top of and proceed to fall off of. Except for maybe a low-riding beach chair, there was nothing for my adventurous toddler to climb. On the glorious sandy beach, I was not constantly “at the ready” to catch someone falling. I got a break from being full time “spotter.”
  2. After a trip to the beach, hosing your children off outside is not only accepted, it is expected.  An outdoor shower at our beach house was the only cleaning our kids got the entire time. There have been many times when I have looked at the kids after an afternoon in the backyard and wished I could avoid dragging their little dirty selves inside. You know, I wanted to “hose them off in the yard.”  But here, in Columbia, outdoor showers are rare and hosing them off seems a little pet- like (and may be against a city ordinance for all I know.)  At the beach, there may be sand, sunscreen and saltwater, but there is also outdoor showers. Suds up in the great outdoors and track nothing in for mom to clean up later.
  3. Beach play often equals very heavy sleeping. (Steady-breathing, possible-slobber kind of sleep.) We didn’t have a strict schedule at the beach, but when it was time to sleep it was some serious REM. Those little legs had carried the kids back and forth to the ocean to the sand castle back to the ocean again all day long. My husband said he thought our three-year-old walked miles on the same stretch of sand back and forth, but at the end of the day, her tired and clean (from the outdoor shower) self SLEPT.

So, I may not be the tan, well read or well rested beach girl I once was. Kids or not, my beach days were changing.  I have become more worried about sunscreen than tan lines. I worry more about what imperfections a bathing suit covers than the any assets it might have accentuated. But there are the things that I have and still embrace about being on the coast. On a beach trip, I still love salt air, no make-up, freckles popping up, and food tasting better than it does at home – whether it is a PBJ or fried shrimp. I maintain that the beach brings out the kid in most of us. I am happy to daydream and stare at the water, dig my feet in the sand, and even dig holes and build castles that I know will be washed away. With the discovery of these new beach perks and the constants of the beach I will ALWAYS enjoy, I think you will find me with my toes in the sand, watching kids play, and maybe even flipping through a gossip magazine before heading to the house to hose off and nap all together.

Supporting a Friend in Need

By: Chaunte McClure

June was a popular month for some rather interesting Facebook challenges. I have friends who warmed up to the idea of participating in the cold-water challenge. Though not everyone followed the rules, here’s how the social media dare worked: Decide which charity you want to support. Record a video and call out your friends you’d like to participate in the challenge. Have someone pour a bucket (or a cooler in some cases I saw) of cold water over your head. Upload the video to Facebook, tag  the friends you’ve challenged. They have 24 hours to create their cold-water challenge video or they have to donate to a charity. If they accept the challenge, they donate $10 to the charity, if they don’t, they donate $100 to the charity.

I saw other variations, too. In some videos, if you did the challenge, you didn’t pay anything. (Still doesn’t make sense to me.) Participating in the cold-water challenge seemed to be more about having fun than actually supporting the charities. I have to admit, some of the videos were quite entertaining.

The gospel challenge soon followed and some Facebook users showcased their vocal talent while others … well, let’s just say, they were a little off key. With this social media fad, people challenged their Facebook friends to upload a video of themselves singing a gospel song. Joy Cover’s rendition of “God’s Trying to Tell You Something” from “The Color Purple” was one of my favorites.  If I had a voice like Joy’s, I would have taken anyone up on the challenge.

Needless to say, I didn’t take part in either challenge, but I felt compelled to reach out in the name of helping a friend in need. After learning of a friend’s sickness and her family’s plea for help with medical expenses, I posted a challenge to some of my Facebook friends to donate to a fund for Felicia Moore.

Who is she? She’s not famous or anyone I expect you to know, but you don’t have to know someone in order to help him or her. I will say that she is one of the few people I’ve encountered in life that I couldn’t truthfully say anything negative about. She has always been such a humble, kind, smart and loving and helpful young lady.

Felicia is a kindergarten teacher who has been diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure. Just a few months after starting dialysis, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult some days probably are for Felicia and her family, but I want to help and I’m extending an invitation to you to do the same.

How you can help:

  1. Pray. No explanation needed.
  2. Sign her online guestbook. Share a few encouraging words.

I’m Chaunte McClure, challenging you to help someone in need.