5 Tips to Safely Watch the Solar Eclipse

By: Kristen Nida, Guest Contributor

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America and parts of South America, Africa and Europe will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Luckily for our community, Columbia, SC will have the longest total solar eclipse on the East Coast! While you are surely excited to witness this rare event, follow these tips to make sure you are doing so safely.

  1. Use Eclipse-Viewing Glasses: This eclipse might be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but remember that you also only get one set of eyes in your lifetime. If you plan to view the eclipse, you must obtain a pair of eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers, which should meet international safety standards. Ordinary sunglasses, no matter how dark, should not be used as a replacement for eclipse-viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers. For those of you who wear glasses, make sure to keep those on and put the eclipse glasses over them. Here is a link find to NASA-approved glasses
  2. Use Filters Properly: Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter. The important thing to remember is to not remove it while you are looking at the sun.
  3. Drive safely: It sounds obvious, but be extra careful while driving during the solar eclipse. Do not look attempt to look at the sun while you are driving – even with eclipse glasses. Do not attempt to take photos of the eclipse while you are driving. Instead, exit the roadway and park in a safe area away from traffic to view the eclipse. If you must be in the car, prevent temptation by putting the sun visor down to block your view, and turn on your headlights when it gets dark.
  4. Don’t Forget Your Sunscreen: You can still get sunburned even when it’s not bright outside. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated if you’ll be outside for a while. Choose a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF and remember to reapply every two hours.
  5. Supervise Children: Always keep an eye on children using solar filters. Make sure they are using them properly at all times.

How to you plan to observe the eclipse? Let us know in the comments section!

South Carolina’s Hidden Gems

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

As you have no doubt come to realize, the boys and I do a good bit of traveling to the Lowcountry.  A self proclaimed history buff (okay, nerd), I like to share my love of times gone by with the boys while we are also making memories.  One of the activities that I love to do with the boys (and anyone else who will go along for the ride) is to share some of the hidden historical gems that South Carolina has to offer.  Like gold or gems long hidden from the naked or untrained eye, these places are ripe with beauty, history, and emotion.  Please indulge me, if you will, as I share two of our more recent discoveries.

Fort Fremont

Tucked away on a narrow dirt road on Saint Helena Island lies a fortification that, until recent years, was almost an unknown.  One day late last summer my in-laws and I decided to take a little ride over to Beaufort and head out to Saint Helena and to Fort Fremont.  Over the last few years, the Friends of Fort Fremont Historical Park has been formed and extensive work has been done revitalizing the fortifications and cleaning up the area around the fort to include fencing and beach access areas.

Fort Fremont

The first time I visited Fort Fremont was probably ten or twelve years ago and I’m not even sure that we should have been on the grounds.  Abandoned and covered in graffiti, it was a little bit unnerving and probably a little more than scary. With my vivid – and sometimes exaggerated – imagination, I remember thinking that it was just the type of place where someone would take someone to harm them or to conduct some type of scary initiation/ritual.  Today it is a great place to go visit and learn a little bit of South Carolina history.

Fort Fremont

The Friends of Fort Fremont has a fantastic website where you can gain tons of information on the history of the fort, visiting the fort, and making donations should you want to help preserve a part of not only our state’s rich history, but also that of the United States.

Old Sheldon Church

Another favorite spot that I like to visit, even when I am alone, is the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church in Yemassee.  Set among massive Spanish moss-covered oaks, the ruins consist of the red brick columns and portions of the walls.  The church has borne witness to the bulk of United States’ history having been first constructed in the mid-1700’s.  After being burned during the Revolutionary War, it was rebuilt during the 1820’s.  However, the Civil War and General William T. Sherman proved too much for the hallowed grounds, and after being burned once more, the ruins and grounds were left unrepaired; a monument to times gone by.

Old Sheldon Church

Today, the grounds are well maintained (by the Parish Church of St. Helena) and are open during daylight hours for visitors to tour.  It is still considered sacred ground and much can be learned by walking the grounds and viewing the headstones of those who have been buried there.  An Easter service is held each year and weddings can also be held on the grounds with appropriate approval from the aforementioned church.

I love to walk the grounds and just be alone with my thoughts.  When the boys are with me, I love to share with them the history and see their faces as they try and drink from the old hand pump on the grounds.  Even more, I love when, months later, they ask questions about these places that we have visited; sometimes they even ask to visit again. And I long for the days and times when we can yet again search out and uncover these South Carolina gems, and those yet to be uncovered.

What are your favorite South Carolina gems?

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.

Cauliflower Alfredo – How’s THAT for Change?

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

A few weeks ago, my boss and I were coming back from a lunch meeting when he chimed in about change.

“Nobody wants change. They all want to keep doing things the way they’ve always done them,” he said. “I give you credit for changing from an iPhone to an Android, but you don’t much like change either.”

Hold the phone! Granted, my boss only sees me at work, but I would say that I, especially over the past few years, have embraced change. I’ve changed my entire lifestyle to add early and regular exercise to my life. I’ve all but given up processed and fast food, and I’ve learned how to cook clean and healthy. And even now that I’ve “taken the leap,” I continue to experiment with new foods, recipes and healthy changes.

Caulfredo

Speaking of change, this weekend I tried a great new recipe from one of my favorite blogs Oh She Glows: Vegan Cauli-Power Fettuccine Alfredo. The base of the sauce is cauliflower, and it was delicious. I highly recommend it! Its a change you’ll love to try!

Please Pass the Magic Eight Ball

By: Lara Winburn

Recently, a friend said that she hated deciding what her family was going to eat for dinner. I concurred that when I win the lottery that is the first order of business- someone to make that decision every day. (Yes, I said when because, well you know, decision makingpower of positive thinking.) Anyway, I started thinking about why I hated this part my day so much. My family is not picky and they do not have high expectations…here’s to setting the bar low.

I hate this decision because it is the 9,742,303rd decision of the day.

I am exhausted by these decisions we are faced with from the time we get up to the time our decision-making, weary eyes finally shut. All of this decision-making is my least favorite part of being a grown-up…that and putting away laundry. (I mean, I am totally fine with washing and folding but why is there never room for it in my drawers?)

For me, decision number one starts with what my daughter is going to wear to school that pleases the fashion sense of a three-year-old and meets the weather predictions of the day. These decisions continue until those precious minutes at night when all is quiet and I must decide whether I should do a little joy reading or throw in a load of never ending laundry. This may sound small, but it is taxing all the same. I want to make the right decisions as an employee, wife, daughter, mom and heck, even a productive member of society. Should I work through lunch at work? Is it better to spend some time at the gym? Or should I just go ahead and make my way over to the grocery store to try to avoid that “hardest” decision at the end of the day? Is a chicken nugget bad for kids if it means we get more play time? Does the baby need to go to the doctor or is that rash going to go away before I make an appointment? Trying to make many decisions and all the while, just trying to cause the least damage to my family, my job and anything else in my decision wake.

So my husband suggested a way to deal with this “decision crisis,” to possibly avoid guilt, apprehension, and second guessing. Unfortunately, he did not suggest eliminating the decisions all together. Instead, he suggested trying to determine with each choice what is the worst thing that can happen? Now this may sound pessimistic, but truly it is not. For example, if I choose that book I have been wanting to read over laundry – will everyone have clean underwear or, worst case, will we be looking at bathing bottoms as under garments? If we wear rain boots to school and it never rains, worst case scenario – we have sweaty feet but not a complex. You would not believe how liberating I have found this to be. I mean, most of these decisions will not result in ruined childhoods or therapy sessions.

As some of you know, most of the time I am trying to embrace the chaos. So in that chaos comes these grown-up decisions, some trivial and some life-changing. As I weigh my options, I will continue to think through the worst thing that can happen. Guess what? Most of time that worst thing really isn’t that bad. Who knows – it might even be one of life’s happy accidents. Or if the decision making process and the worst case scenario doesn’t work, you may just hear me say “please pass the Magic Eight Ball.”

 

What’s Your Motivation?

By: Shannon Shull

Motivation is a key to success. What motivates a lion in the wild to chase down and devour a deer? Hunger! Like a lion in the wild, we all have a hunger of some sort. Hopefully in the case of us humans, we have a hunger to succeed in some way. Since we are human, we require motivation  to pursue something. As a lover of the Arts, I am motivated to teach so that I can share this passion and the fulfillment it can bring to one’s life. To me, motivation is desire. It’s what helps us take action.

Sunflowers

Whether a case of desiring a full, satisfied belly, or in my case, teaching others about the Arts, or in the case of a student, taking action simply because they want a good grade to get their parents off their back, motivation is a powerful thing.  If you’re a smart teacher, you will use positive motivational strategies that not only motivate your students to have a desire to do what you need them to, but allow them to see the rewards of their motivation and embrace it.  In the world of the dramatic arts, we are motivated to put on an incredible show. We want to entertain our audience and want to hear their applause. Fortunately for some, that is motivation enough. But in the real world, though most may be motivated to do things for the attention, it’s not always for the right reasons.

Think about what motivates you…is your motivational strategy in life positive?  Whether with career, family, health, education, etc, are you motivated for positive reasons to bring fulfillment to your life or is your motivation really not so positive when you really look at it? Is your motivation really to hurt someone else? Is your motivation to just survive and make money to pay the bills, though you’re miserable in your job?  Is your motivation ugly in nature at its base? Check yourself and re-evaluate. Please. Your life will be fuller and happier if your motivation is deep seeded in positivity.

Can we teach others motivational strategies? YES!! In my career, I am motivated by a desire to be the best teacher that I can be. Therefore, I feel that it is my responsibility to use motivational strategies in such a way that my students can recognize the benefits not only in the moment but down the road, as they grow into adults that must stay motivated to survive this harsh, competitive world.  I consistently show my students how the Arts can benefit them in life. Whether it’s utilizing the tools in the Actor’s Toolbox or understanding that a storyboard is a communication tool, I will always try my best to show my students the purpose of a lesson, and how they should take advantage of it and allow it to motivate them to become better, more successful people.

So as human beings who really want to strive to be outstanding and utilize motivation to achieve fulfillment in our lives, we can not only lead by example but share our own personal motivational strategies. We hear incredible success stories all the time about how someone has lost enormous amounts of weight. Their motivation was to live a healthier life. To be physically fit and feel good about how they look, as well as feel good on the inside. We hear stories of amazing strength in which someone defies death because of a motivation to see their loved ones again.  I think we’ve all heard about or maybe even experienced that level of motivation.

So in an effort to be a good example and provide some motivation, I challenge you to rethink your “real” goals in life and your motivation for reaching those goals. Do you have a strategy?  Is your motivation rooted in positivity? Is motivation even present?  As they say in the acting world, “What is your motivation??”  Be brave and share with us what you’ve discovered after doing a thorough check on what really motivates you!