Hop, Skip and a Jump

By: Katie Austin

Where did the summer go? Can you believe we are already midway through September?

I don’t know about you, but it seems as though the months are just flying by! They say time flies when you are having fun, so this girl must be having a lot of fun. 🙂

I do love this time of year as we transition into Fall and cooler temperatures. Mother Nature moves over to warmer colors, and college football in the air. (Go Gamecocks! Sorry, just had to work that into my blog somewhere…LOL.)

Though I am excited about the new season, I do worry about keeping up my new health routine. As I shared in my last post, “My Aha Moment,” my husband and I started a simple exercise/eating healthy ritual that’s helping us to gradually lose weight. During the summer, school is out and we participate in many outdoor activities. But as schedules get busier and activities move indoors, I worry that I will go back to old habits. I don’t want to lose my momentum, and I want to be sure that our recent changes become lifetime habits.

How can we accomplish this, especially during the holiday season?

I pondered this question for a while. I went back in time, remembering when I finished chemotherapy and needed something to motivate me. My body was weak and my muscles atrophied. I wanted something to focus on, a way to take steps toward getting back in shape. I found the Avon Walk and joined a team to walk 39 miles.

That’s what I needed to do: find events that will provide opportunities to exercise while giving back and helping me stay focused. Perfect!

I recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity Women Build, which was a women-only event. Boy, I had no idea sod could be that heavy!

habitat for humanityI am registered to participate in two events this October: the Walk for Life (10/18/14) and to walk 39 miles in the Avon Walk in Charlotte, NC (10/25-26/14).
avon walk

See the links below for volunteer opportunities at an upcoming build or to register to walk:

There are many other events taking place this Fall that are just a hop, skip and a jump away. A quick Goggle search and you will find several to choose from.

Don’t get me wrong, we are still walking and watching what we eat. These events just offer different ways of exercising.

Remember to keep your health toward the top of your list and to keep moving.

 

 

Thanksgiving Traditions

With Thanksgiving only two days away, we wanted to hear how you, our readers, celebrate Thanksgiving. We asked the Every Woman Bloggers about their favorite way to celebrate the holiday. Check out what they had to say and then tell us about your own special traditions. Do you cook a special recipe every year? Play football before the big meal? Simply enjoy connecting with your family? We want to hear!

Thanksgiving

Katie Austin

Our Thanksgiving tradition is to get the family together for dinner and take our turn telling each other what we are thankful for. Beside the scrumptious food, that is my absolute favorite part about Thanksgiving. Then, after we have eaten dinner, we gather around to watch football or play a board game. At the end of our Thanksgiving gathering, I find myself taking in all the wonderful moments that make our family special.

Brady Evans

Our family doesn’t have any long-standing traditions. A part of me always wanted something concrete to depend on like getting the Christmas tree, watching the parade, or visiting with a specific group of relatives.  We, however, drift around on Thanksgiving, visiting different arms of the family each year in no set pattern. Meals vary from being catered to being eaten in a restaurant to being eaten at home and though the Macy’s parade is always on in the background, no one pays close attention. So I guess the tradition has become just spending time with our loved ones, whomever they may be.

Crissie Miller Kirby

Our tradition varies from year to year. We alternate Thanksgivings, spending one year with my family, and the following year with my in-laws. Regardless of where we are, the day is about being with family, catching up and just being together; something we all need to do a better job of.

We continue the Thanksgiving holiday by traveling to Monetta, SC and choosing a live Christmas tree from Tom Sawyer’s Christmas Trees. If we are in the Midlands for Thanksgiving, we get our tree that day. If we are on the coast for Thanksgiving, then we typically go out before Thanksgiving, tag our tree and go back when we return to actually cut it down and take it home.

Mary Pat Baldauf

For years, my family celebrated with my grandparents and extended family members at my grandparents’ house. Perhaps one of the most cherished traditions was the “kids’ table,” a card table with mismatched chairs where the grandkids ate. Over the years, the grandkids grew up, but we still always ate at the “kids’ table.” One year, we mixed things up and some of the kids got to sit at the “big table.” You know what we found out? The kids’ table was a lot more fun. We have sadly lost my grandparents, and we now celebrate Thanksgiving with family friends. They, too, have a kids’ table, and each year, I rediscover its magic as I take my seat there, a forty-seven year old “kid.”

Elizabeth Webber Akre

I’m not sure exactly when this started, but I think it was sometime in the 80’s. One year my Aunt Jennie made a sweet potato in which she mashed the potatoes with some orange juice concentrate, topped them with a sweet pecan topping and baked them. From the first time these showed up, it became THE ONLY sweet potato dish accepted by any of us. Aunt Jennie always gets this bashful look on her face because she says it was just some recipe she picked up one day and made. But, like it or not, they have become well-known to many, even to those outside of our family, as simply “Aunt Jennie’s Sweet Potatoes.” 

My Aunt Jennie’s sweet potatoes have become the end-all, be-all sweet potato dish. In 1988, I spent my fall semester living with a family in Rennes, France. On my Thanksgiving phone call home, I learned that my mom had offered to make the sweet potatoes that year, AND SHE DIDN’T MAKE AUNT JENNIE’S RECIPE. Seriously, I heard about it from my sister, each cousin who got on the phone and, most emphatically, from my Uncle Tommy (married to Aunt Jennie). Yes, everyone was most displeased. Lesson learned. I think the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Fall Family-Friendly Events

 By: Rebecca Stephenson, Guest Contributor 

FallSometimes it seems like there are a ton of Halloween and holiday events, but not a whole lot in between. If you want to create an unforgettable autumn experience for your family, you don’t need to look far! Columbia and Lexington are chock-full of fun events this November and December.  To help you on your quest for an awesome autumn, we’ve profiled a few local events that just might help your family make some new traditions.

  1. Check out the unusual 5-person performance of A Christmas Carol at the Trustus Theatre in Columbia. The show will be performed every Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from November 1-16. Don’t miss this creative take on the Charles Dickens’ classic!
  2. If you’re feeling adventurous, visit the Deep Seas Adventure Corn Maze at Clinton Sease Farm in Columbia. The 8-acre corn maze, which will be open until November 17th, is fun for the whole family!
  3. Don’t miss the 28th Annual Vista Lights Holiday Season Kickoff in Columbia on November 21st at the intersection of Gervais and Lincoln.  There will be dancing, live music, free food, and more from 5 pm to 9 pm!  The kickoff ends with the tree lighting with the mayor.
  4. Experience Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition as Columbia’s Riverbanks Zoo and Garden lights up every night from November 22 through December 30th at Lights Before Christmas. Take your family to see the animals and the amazing display of almost 1 million lights from 5-9 pm.
  5. The Village Square Theatre in Lexington is hosting a Gingerbread/Graham Cracker House Contest on November 23rd from 10 am to 12 pm. The $5 registration for the event will be donated to the American Cancer Society and Lexington County Arts Association. Gingerbread-enthusiasts of all ages are encouraged to build houses and enter them in the contest.
  6. On December 8th, the Lexington County Museum will have its annual Holiday Open House from 1-4 pm. The free event will feature lots of goodies to enjoy as you stroll through the mid-19th century house.

What are your family’s fall traditions? If you know of other events in our area, please share them with us.

Seeing The Foundation

By: Shannon Shull

Best Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned
To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned:
We often focus all our thought
On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought.
We take our pleasure in material things,
Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings.
If a lot of our stuff just vanished today,
We’d see the foundation of each happy day
Is special relationships, constant and true,
And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you.
We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget,
Full of love and joy—your best one yet!

–Joanna Fuchs

 I don’t know who Joanna Fuchs is, but I do know that her poem here really touched me. What really stood out is the line about the thought of seeing the foundation of each happy day. I read that and my mind immediately thinks, well, not all days are happy. But then I think about how even if we’re having a tough day, we should always think of the foundation of that day. The what, the who, the how we made it through that day. Whether we recognize our own inner strength that allowed us to survive hardships, those special people who made our day worthwhile or the recognition of all the things we have to be thankful for. If all our “stuff” just vanished today, would we see the foundation of our day?

I’ve made some major mistakes in my life. Some I still pay the price for. Though I know that there is a reason for everything and my God has a plan for it all, even our imperfections, some days it would be all too easy to consistently beat myself up over things.

My only saving grace is to recognize all the things I do have to be thankful for. Yep, it’s the foundation of my days that get me through the pain. The special, constant and true relationships with the precious, loving people in my life, help to hold my sanity together. The innocent and priceless love of these precious beings I gave birth to and the pride I have for their amazing accomplishments and total beauty, inside and out. The weekly joy I get from being a teacher and seeing the looks on these students’ faces when I’m able to inspire them and they sing my praises. The sheer fact that I have a roof over my head and can pay my bills thanks to a secure job in my dream career.

ThanksgivingWhen the negative aspects of my life start to over-run my heart and mind, I have to fall back on the foundation of my day. If I fail to do so, then the inner demons would surely carry me away.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I challenge you to recognize the things that truly create the foundation of your days. I wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget, definitely full of love and joy and above all full of thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

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.

Pumpkin S’more Cake

By: Brady Evans

I needed this cake, a Pumpkin S’more Cake, for a Wednesday night dinner. Looking at the recipe, it became clear that the cake had to be made in advance of Wednesday night.  I preferred to make it in steps over 2 days, since the recipe had many components, but upon reading the recipe and consulting some baking experts, I decided few of the components actually lent themselves to that approach.

Cake

Turns out the entire cake I had envisioned was destined to fail, as nearly every component I began to make flopped monstrously  I started baking the cake at 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon and it was finally complete at 10pm. I went to bed leaving the kitchen a mess. I had made 5 layers of cake and one batch of failed meringue, and had used two cans of pumpkin and nearly 18 eggs. The fact that I was especially clumsy that night didn’t help the situation.

Cake

The cake that made it to the dinner was only reminiscent of the cake I originally set out to make. I don’t hesitate to say, however, that it is likely a much more delicious version. The star of the dessert is a perfect pumpkin cake recipe (declared perfect by the queen of recipe comparisons at The Way the Cookie Crumbles). Between those layers of cake was the perfect amount of graham cracker crumbs and soft mini marshmallows. A deep dark chocolate ganache served as the frosting and kept the cake from feeling too sweet when combined with the marshmallows (pure sugar) and fluffy cake.

This dessert is perfect for fall, Halloween, or the holiday season coming up. It was a huge crowd pleaser at dinner and in the teacher workroom the next day!

Pumpkin S’more Cake (adapted from Desserts for Breakfast & The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Pumpkin Cake (adapted from David Leite via Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line two 8″ cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour parchment rounds.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add both eggs one at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  5. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour.
  6. Finally, beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  7. Divide the batter equally between the two pans.
  8. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles.
  9. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on racks completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients

  • 9 oz. dark chocolate (at least 60+%), chopped
  • 7.5 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 Tbspn butter

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Cook the heavy cream and butter over medium high heat until a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over prepared chocolate. Stir until no streaks remain. Use immediately.

Graham Cracker Crumbs (homemade, if desired)

Mini Marshmallows

For the cake assembly:

Place one leveled cake layer on your cake stand or serving platter. Spoon 1/4 cup ganache over the round and smooth so that the layer is even. Add an even layer of graham cracker crumbs and dot with mini marshmallows, making sure that only one layer of marshmallows is made. Add the next cake layer. Pour/spread remaining ganache over cake. Sprinkle with additional graham cracker crumbs and marshmallows.

Blues Brews & BBQ on the River: Eat, Drink, Play & Support a Great Cause, All in One Night

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Where can you support a great cause, eat delicious food, bid on fabulous prizes and perhaps even walk-away with a YETI? At the Family Shelter’s Fifth Annual “Blues, Brews & BBQ” benefit which takes place Thursday, November 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the new Stone River!

Blues, Brews & BBQ

Each year, Family Shelter hosts Blues Brews and BBQ to support food, shelter and program services offered to homeless families in the Midlands. To celebrate the event’s fifth anniversary, Family Shelter is going all out, and you don’t want to miss out!

At this year’s event, attendees will:

  • Get down to the live sounds of Bandkamp, including the best in classic rock and alternative tunes.
  • Bid on fabulous Silent Auction items, including lunches with Mayor Steve Benjamin and Sheriff Leon Lott, gift certificates from Famously Hot local businesses and other unique prize packages.
  • Be in the running to win a new YETI tank cooler. Everyone who attends will be entered in a drawing for this fabled, party-ready beverage tub, but you must be present to win.
  • Fill up on delicious bbq and all the fixin’s, including beer and wine. 

Tickets are just $35 in advance; $40 at the door. To purchase tickets, visit: https://familyshelterbbb.eventbrite.com/.

Hope you can join us!

 

Why I Do What I Do

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

For the better part of four years, I have been a single parent. Many days, I feel like I have not done the absolute best job that I could or that I haven’t done anything memorable for them. There are days where we race to get ready in the mornings and we race to school, barely making it before the school bell rings in their day. Those mornings are usually punctuated with me begging the boys to hurry up, get their shoes on, get their teeth brushed, get their book bags, and, please, hurry up and get in the van. Those mornings leave me feeling a bit flustered all day.

This morning was one of those mornings.

We were racing to get to school early because the school was hosting Muffins for Mom (although after our morning at home, I felt less than worthy to receive a free muffin). I begged and pleaded. I yelled. I tried to impart the “you need to be more responsible” wisdom on the boys. Off we raced to the school, arriving in enough time for me and the boys to scarf down some juice, chocolate milk, and most of a muffin. They took our picture Fall Favoritesand I walked the boys to their classrooms. Our moods all improved and I paused in the hallway to look at their work outside of their respective classrooms. As I viewed Pierce’s, I had to stop, pull out my phone, and capture the image.

In that second grade handwriting that has become so familiar to me, were the following words: “Fall is fun because we go to the mountains to pick apples.”

For the last several years, come late September/early October, the boys and I have driven up towards Hendersonville, North Carolina and picked apples. My mom still can’t believe that I, often alone, load the boys in the van and drive over two hours, just to pick apples. To me, though, it isn’t to “just pick apples;” it is to make a memory that will stay with my children for a lifetime. But, often I wonder, “Will they really remember this? Is it really important to them or is it more important to me?”  I’ll admit that I think the answer to all of these questions is really, “yes.” It matters to them and to me, and they will remember it.

I found a saying on Pinterest that best embodies how I feel about making memories with my children:

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” (Author unknown)

And I think it goes much farther than being physically present in their lives; I think it means to be physically, mentally, and emotionally present with and for them, and to do the things that maybe you aren’t so sure matter to them, because, often, in the end, it really does matter to them.

Whether it is a Sunday afternoon trip to North Carolina to pick apples or a Saturday afternoon riding through the long roads of the South Carolina Lowcountry to an out-of-the-way historical site, it matters. And they remember.

I see the smiles on their faces and the laughter coming from their bellies as they explore and learn without really even knowing that they are learning. I listen as they tell friends and teachers about this place that we went. I laugh as they try hard to remember the name of the site we visited and make up names because they can’t quite remember it. I marvel when they write about these memories in school, already, even at their young ages and I realize that I’ve made a difference in my children’s lives.  I am already in their memories.

And, that is why I do the things that I do.

100 Years From Now

One hundred years from now

It will not matter

What kind of car I drove,

What kind of house I lived in,

How much I had in my bank,

Nor what my clothes looked like.

 

One hundred years from now

It will not matter

What kind of school I attended,

What kind of typewriter I used,

How large or small my church,

But the world may be …

a little better because…

I was important in the life of a child.

 

(Author Unknown)

A Tropical Taste of Fall

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

I had dental surgery earlier this month, and to prepare, I got some new smoothie recipes from my fave nutrition counselor, Traci. Unfortunately, I was so sedated afterwards that I didn’t feel like making smoothies (or anything else), but I’m starting to try them now. An Banana Spice Smoothieearly favorite is the Banana Spice Smoothie. It’s great, and the spices hint that fall is around the corner. This is great on its own. Another option is to freeze it overnight in an insulated cup, thaw for about an hour the next day and eat with a spoon. Sinful!

Something neat about this smoothie is the inclusion of kefir, which is full of probiotics. I’d never tried it before, but got a good 101 lesson on it here. It seems pretty common in grocery stores now; it’s usually stocked near the soy milk.

Enjoy!

What Is It About Football Season?

By: Shannon Shull

I am not a college football fanatic, never really have been. Yes, I grew up a Gamecock – it was a bit inevitable, seeing as how I grew up in Gamecock country and over half of my family graduated from the University of South Carolina. But I admit, unless it’s a USC game, Gamecock FootballI could give a flip what happens in any football game. I mean absolutely no offense, I just have no major connection nor the time to invest in college football.

But, by golly, there’s just something about being in an environment with a bunch of hardcore football fans – especially college football fans! The connection to their schools – oh the pride! It’s fantastic! So, between the great food, festivities and excitement in the air, if you’re with the right people, it can be electric and such fun! When it’s a Gamecock game, I go nuts and get into it – so I’m REALLY hoping the ole Gamecocks have a great season this year. 😉 But even if it’s not a USC game, it’s contagious watching a group of people on the edge of their seats, jumping up and down with the intensity of the game. Whether you have any clue what teams are playing or not, if you let yourself, you can really have a great time. Football games bring people together and create an atmosphere of camaraderie and competition that can be a blast.

Of course, that’s as long as you’re with logical, cool people who don’t take it too seriously and get too stupid! You know, the fools who scream and curse at the TV and anyone around them…you know those people. Sorry, but I cannot and will not tolerate those kind of football fans. Those supposed “know-it-alls” who act as if they could do better and actually would have made that touchdown had they been on the field. Yea, I’d just love to literally throw those fans out on the field and let them just try to do better! But I won’t go that route with my blog entry here, as I want to focus on the positive fun of football watchin’.

I’ve written an entry in the past sharing some amazing football-watching appetizers. Sometimes, the food is the highlight of any football gathering. I mean, any gathering that’s truly awesome has good food, right!? So pair that yummy food with great company and you’ve got a recipe for a dang good time.

College Football Map

Being an artistic person who teaches drama, I tend to people watch. It’s actually great fun to watch someone who is so invested in their team and see how they react as they cheer on the players throughout the game. Talk about a character study! Some folks are so dedicated that when their team experiences a loss of any sort, you can almost see their spirit literally break. It’s quite unbelievable at times. Yet the joy that overcomes their bodies when their beloved team does something right… watch out! It really is an experience. You don’t just watch, you feel. I’ve grown to love it – to see people happy is always a lovely thing.

I think that as I get older, I’ve really grown to appreciate this thing called football season. It’s wonderful to see good people come together to cheer on their team and truly enjoy their time together as they dive into the world of football and become so invested in their dear teams. Bless them all. Hey, if a bunch of dudes tossing a ball and smashing into each other creates this environment of fellowship and fun, then I am all for it!

So what is it about football season, after all? If we could harness the focus, energy, time and money spent on the sport of football, then we could certainly cure cancer, save the world or something along those lines, I’d think. There are many other events that are also overdone that that I could rant about, but instead I will keep it positive and focus on the basic truth that football season can truly be a lot of fun, if you let it. Even if you’re like me and you secretly couldn’t care less about who wins or loses, I think we can all appreciate any excuse for some positive “togetherness.”

GO COCKS!

The big world of college football is something that we can all look forward to for many reasons. And it’s ok if we don’t all have the same reasons, as long as we keep it positive, enjoy the electricity in the air, enjoy our time together and celebrate the game!

Hip Hip Hooray for Football Season and GO COCKS!!!  🙂