Time to Kiss and Make Up

By: Jeanne Reynolds

The company I work for has locations in both the United States and the United Kingdom. As our communications team worked together last week deciding what kind of internal story to do for the Fourth of July, I started to feel awkward. I mean, there we were talking with our British colleagues about celebrating a holiday that says, to them, “Nyah, nyah, nyah!”

OK, it’s been more than 240 years since that ugly parting of the ways and most people on both sides of the Big Pond would agree we’re now BFFs. So I thought let’s look at it another way: the great gifts each culture has given to the other and things we love about each other.

That led to some pretty interesting research. For example, American as apple pie? Umm, not so much. We can thank the early English settlers for bringing that to our shores. And if, like me, you think everyone in England enjoys a big roast goose on Christmas (hello, Charles Dickens), then we’re both a little outdated. Brits long ago went cold (well, hot) turkey and adopted America’s native bird for their feasts.

And there’s so much more to love. The British sent us the Beatles and Cary Grant. We shared Elvis and Paul Newman. One of theirs invented the World Wide Web, one of ours created Google. We gave them the magic of Disney and they gave us the delight of Downton Abbey. We both love Jane Austen (theirs) as much as Mark Twain (ours). We’re equally dazzled by the royal family and Hollywood celebrities.

If two of the greatest powers on earth can successfully move past a tumultuous past to a shared future, I wonder if we as individuals can do the same in our own relationships. Of course, a couple hundred years and fighting side-by-side in a couple of world wars surely smoothed the way for the U.S. and the U.K. to become pals. Still, it’s hopeful to think bitter divorces, gut-wrenching breakups and long-standing family rifts could eventually evolve into more cordial relationships and mutual appreciation.

For now, hurry up and cut me a piece of that apple pie. There’s an old Cary Grant movie about to come on and I don’t want to miss it.

4 Healthy Recipes to Try This Independence Day

By: Kristen Nida, Guest Contributor

Hosting a Fourth of July celebration this year? You’ll have to try these four quick and easy recipes for your holiday festivities. Not only do they take little time to prepare, leaving you more time to enjoy with your family and friends, but they are also healthy!

Barbecue Pulled Chicken: A Fourth of July cookout isn’t complete without barbecue.
This BBQ pulled chicken recipe is a unique reinterpretation of pulled pork that slow-cooks chicken in tangy tomato sauce. Whether served over mashed potatoes or served as a sandwich, it is sure to be a hit. Click here for the recipe.

Creamy Spinach Dip: This healthy, fresh take on classic spinach dip is irresistible.
The low-fat ingredients in this tasty recipe will save you over 80 calories in each serving. This versatile dip can be served with pita chips, fresh vegetables, or even spread over a sandwich. There is an option for everyone! Click here for the recipe.

Red, White & Blue Popsicles: This easy, 3-step recipe is as quick to prepare as it is tasty to eat.
Juicy raspberries and blueberries are in season and this recipe takes full advantage of that. The natural sweetness of these fruity popsicles is unbeatable and the colors scream Independence Day, perfect for the occasion. Click here for the recipe.

S’mores Banana Ice Cream: The lightest, quickest “ice cream” you will ever prepare!
S’mores, bananas, and ice cream are each so delicious on their own. The only way to make them better is to combine them into one tasty treat! The best thing about this recipe is it takes only four minutes to create this dessert for your family and friends to enjoy. Click here for the recipe.

Local, Family-Friendly Fourth of July Celebrations!

By: Meg Cowan, Guest Contributor

The Fourth of July holiday isn’t complete without a celebration! From running a 5k, to enjoying a parade, or even boating on Lake Murray, there are tons of local family-friendly options. This Fourth of July, kick back at the following Independence Day events in the Midlands:

Lake Murray’s Star Spangled Celebration
July 1, Annual Boat Parade starts at 12 pm

Spend a day on Lake Murray, beginning with a festive boat parade. Fireworks start at approximately 9:15PM, launched from both Dreher Island and Spencer Island.


Star-Spangled Symphonic Salute by the Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra
July 3, 8 pm at Saluda Shoals Park

An evening of patriotic music and fireworks with the Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra!


Born in the USA Four Miler in Columbia, SC
July 4, Race starts at 7 am

Compete in a four-mile race around Forest Acres Lake and Golf Course!


59th Annual Lexington County Peach Festival
July 4, 9 am to 11 pm at the Gilbert Community Park on Rikard Circle in Gilbert S.C.
Fireworks at 10 pm, field behind Gilbert Primary School

Featuring a parade, recipe contests, live entertainment, fireworks and, of course, peaches!


Independence Day Fireworks at Lexington County Blowfish Baseball Games
Games July 3 & 4

Watch the Lexington County Blowfish play some ball, and stay for the celebratory Fourth of July fireworks at the end of the game!


Pork, Freedom and Another Year Older

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

July 4th is right around the corner.  This time of year, we all become focused on the holiday: plans to go to the beach, hosting a cookout, fireworks, barbeque, time off from work.  Wait, there’s something I’m forgetting.  I know I should know this…hmmm.  Oh yeah, my birthday.  The annual parade and celebration of my life is (supposed to be) on July 1st. My friends remember, my parents remember, my sister and my husband remember. The problem is that I always forget my own birthday is coming up.  Once again, it just hit me that it’s in a few days.  But, as usual, I’ve been focusing on the other things.

Here in the South, barbeque is a given on holidays like the 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day and even New Year’s Day.  And barbeque in the South means four things:  pork, chicken, mustard and the all-important-fact that barbeque is a NOUN, not a VERB.  The most common, and most delicious, is good ol’ fashioned pig meat.  There are the connoisseurs who dig the pit and cook that baby for a day and a half.  It’s great barbeque, but I don’t have that kinda time.  Then, there are folks like my mom who will just go out and buy it from a BBQ joint.  Around here, the dumpier looking the BBQ joint, the better.  No flashy signs or logos.  In fact, if it’s a plain cinder block building with a chimney, that’s ideal.

And THEN, there are people like me and my sister.  We’re picky about our meat.  We don’t like meat with bones in it, we can’t tolerate fat on our meat and worse, in our mouths.  And, we’re pretty particular about the type.  So, we’re partial to making our barbeque in the crockpot.  Yeah, that’s right.  I mentioned that I don’t have time to pit cook, so the crockpot was invented for me, I think.  It’s ridiculously easy, tastes fantastic and people can’t believe you made it yourself.  Now, here’s how to do it. Hold onto your hat, this is complicated…

Place two pork tenderloins in your crockpot, add about ½ cup of water then a bottle of yellow sauce.  (You know you can buy Shealy’s in the grocery store, right?) Turn it on low and come back about 7 or 8 hours later.  Pull the tenderloins out and shred them with two forks.  Drain some of the cooking liquid and add more yellow sauce to the pot.  Place the meat back in the sauce, mix it up and warm on low for about 15 minutes.  And there you have it: lower fat Southern barbeque.

Of course, the most important part of the holiday is the celebration of the freedom we enjoy here in the U.S.  Probably all of us have had family or friends who have served America in our military.  It’s so important for us to remember what this holiday is really all about and to teach that to our kids.

Recently, I was able to take my 6-year-old to Washington, D.C.  I was so proud of how well she paid attention to the monuments and what I explained to her about them.  She was particularly interested in the mementos and circes left at the Vietnam wall by friends and loved ones.  She was intrigued with the Korean monument, as she is a big fan of the old M*A*S*H shows.  That may sound silly, but for a kid, it put a face on what the monument was commemorating.  And, when we arrived at Arlington to see the Tomb of the Unknown and the changing of the guard, she sat right up front, stayed quiet and took in every detail.  Afterward, she had lots of thoughtful questions and a new understanding of what our military does for this country.

So, as the 4th of July approaches and I prepare to blow out 44 candles, I wish you all a happy day of celebrating your freedom with your families, friends and a big, saucy plate of barbeque.