It’s Almost Fall

By: Chaunte McClure

It’s almost fall, y’all! You know, that time of year when the air is crisp, the mornings are foggy, leaves are colorful and utility bills are lower. Gah, I am looking forward to all of the Fallabove, but especially the decrease in my light bill. Can I get an amen?!

It was so refreshing to step outside the past two mornings to feel the cool air on my warm skin. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend much time savoring the fall-like temperatures, but I take pride in knowing that more mornings like those are ahead.

Spring and fall are my preferred seasons, although neither of them stick around long enough in South Carolina. Spring is a welcome change after 20 and 30 degree temps. Of course, I welcome fall after consistent 90 to 100 (plus) degree days along with the added humidity we have in Famously Hot Columbia.

The first day of autumn is just a week away and that not only means cooler weather, it’s also a sign of cool events like the South Carolina State Fair. It’s the place to go for family fun, bizarre foods, people watching and to hear the announcer say, “Meet your party at the rocket.”

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard (or seen), the rocket is standing taller. Now it’ll be easier for your son or daughter, who has to bear the embarrassment of hearing his or her name inserted before “. . . meet your mother at the rocket,” to find the iconic figure. The missile has been raised 12 feet higher, towering about 78 feet tall. The South Carolina State Fair is October 14-25. Experience it!

I’m also making plans to attend USC’s homecoming. Go Cocks! I’m excited about seeing the new alumni center and enjoying camaraderie with friends. Maybe I’ll luck up and get a picture with Cocky.

It’s been awhile, but one fall, I made a trip to the Upstate to Nivens Apple Farm where you can pick pumpkins and apples. They have a playground and pedal cars for the kids. Nivens also has hay rides, farm animals, and a corn maze. Get lost in the excitement of being on the farm. It’ll make for a fun day trip.

What fall activities do you enjoy?

Halloween

By: Leah Prescott

Am I the only one who thinks that Halloween has gotten completely out of control? Once upon a time, Halloween was a night; now it is its own season. I suppose because we Americans are so addicted to sugar, it has somehow earned itself an extension into the whole month of October, stealing the thunder, in my opinion, from a lot of awesome stuff like autumn leaves and apple picking. When I was a child, we got candy on Halloween night (regular candy, like tootsie rolls and jolly ranchers), and that’s all it took to make us happy. Back then, the candy didn’t have to be orange or shaped like a brain or a mummy for us to enjoy it. And we certainly didn’t expect Jack-o-Lantern cookies and bat-themed fruit snacks to be served everywhere we went for the entire month.

Halloween

Remember when costumes were homemade? And not Pinterest-y homemade – I mean creatively cobbled together from whatever was lying around the house. Here’s a picture of my siblings and I at a Fall Festival on Halloween night many years ago.

Notice we are all in “costume” and yet none of us paid a penny to get into character. We were even dressed in theme: Noah’s Ark. I am the “dove” at the top (in my old ballet leotard). One of my brothers is Noah with the mop on his chin and the other one has a tiger costume literally made from a paper bag. My sister was wearing overalls because I guess caring for the tiger was a messy job. See how much fun we are having?

halloween

Now-a-days, costumes are amazingly elaborate and expensive. As if we don’t have enough to worry about with Christmas, birthdays and all the days in between, now Halloween has become an intense parade of Disney princesses and Marvel super heroes (and all those other boy things I can’t yet identify because my son is only two years old). People ask what your children are going to be for Halloween when October has barely begun. (I guess you have to start saving for those pricey costumes just when you finished shelling out all that cash for back to school.) I read that this year consumers are expected to pay $7.4 billion dollars on Halloween costumes. Now, I’m no mathematician or social trends expert, but I’m guessing that is, at a minimum, way, way, way more money than we have to spend as a country. And that doesn’t include all the extras like candy and event tickets. Just like so many other things in America, Halloween has become an opportunity for indulgence.

Pumpkin

I guess my takeaway from this post is that I want to enjoy Fall without orange and black pushing aside the yellows and burnt oranges. I want my kids to know they can create whatever their imaginations dream up, if they are willing to pull out the Mod Podge and poster paint. I want to minimize the sugar high and entitlement and look ahead to the attitude of gratitude that November brings. Mostly, I just don’t want my daughter to be one of 11 other Elsa’s at the costume party. Because where’s the fun in that?

Pumpkin Spice: Splurge, Then Substitute

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Ahhh, how I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Although it came out extra early this year – August 14th, to be exact – it signals the start of Autumn for me. I treat myself to one Pumpkin Spice Latte during the season, and I’m waiting until it’s cool this year, maybe early October. Why just one, you ask? Because that yummy Pumpkin Spice Latte isn’t just packed with flavor. It also has:

  • 380 calories, as many as seven Chips Ahoy! cookies
  • Eight grams of saturated fat
  • 49 grams of sugar, nearly double the amount found in 16 ounces of cola
  • 51 grams of carbohydrate, almost as much as four slices of white bread

No one buys a Pumpkin Spice Latte thinking it’s a healthy drink, but YIKES! More than one of those could derail even the healthiest eater!

Pumpkin Bites

This year, I’m getting my favorite seasonal spice via a couple of healthier, but equally delicious treats:

Pumpkin No-Bake Energy Bites: I first tried these over Labor Day weekend, and they’re wonderful! They’re a great on-the-run snack and/or pre/post-workout treat.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothies: Compared to the same size Pumpkin Spice Latte, it has half the calories and sugar, a third less carbohydrates and even a nice amount of fiber! And it’s cold and extra refreshing during those still-warm September days.

What’s your favorite fall food? Do you have a healthier version or do you just splurge during the season?

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