Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life and Art in Charleston 107

If you've spent much time in downtown Charleston, chances are you've run across Dab before. My boys and  I seem to see him here, there, and everywhere as he has lots of projects in the works. This week we ran across his painting (above) inside the Charleston Library Society, and we recognized his technique immediately. Your children will love watching Dab at work too.

Dab incorporates what he calls "dabism", which is a process of applying layers of paint to capture light and build up textures. As a result, his paintings can take a great deal of time and patience to create. The piece above is a commission work of a home on the battery front.

My friend Randy took this shot of Dab explaining his technique to me on a blustery day last week. The wind was so strong on the battery it threatened to whip his easel away! If you happen to spot Dab downtown, he is very friendly and approachable and will take a moment to share his art. Ask to see his self portrait, it will crack you up.

Check out more of this work at

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

snapshot - Charles Towne Landing Part II

We picked a lazy, sunny Sunday after church to take a peek at Charles Towne Landing...

What follows are images I captured that sum up the beauty you'll stumble across at every turn...

Speaking of lazing in the warm winter sun, I leave you today with a rather large fella we stumbled across!

Charles Towne Landing
1500 Olde Towne Road
Charleston, SC 29407
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
Free parking
Restrooms, snacks, and picnic tables throughout the site

Winston approves! Dogs welcome everywhere except the animal zoo area.

Rewind Charleston- Charles Towne Landing Part I

What if you could rewind Charleston all the way back to 1670?

To visualize what Charleston was like then, there is really only one place you need to go. Before heading off to explore Charles Towne Landing, talk up this cool fact to your children...

In 1670, the very first European settlers in the Carolinas lived on this incredible site. There were just shy of 150 settlers in the colony and they worked together to carve out what we sometimes take for granted today.

Your children will love this large map and can use it to easily navigate your way around. Make your way to the reproduction of a 17th century cargo ship called the 'Adventure'...

When you see this spot you will understand why the colonists were so enamored with this area. Climb aboard...

and get your bearings (note the Cooper River Bridge in the distance).

Did I mention this place is stunning? There is so much ground to cover and it's a great place to run, bike, and scooter. There is also a golf cart shuttle to pick you up and drop you from each area as well as on site strollers, wheelchairs, and even wagons.

Check back here tomorrow for more on this State Park. A great option is to buy a yearly pass for $75 and it includes all the SC State Parks - that's a deal!

Charles Towne Landing
1500 Old Towne Road
Charleston, SC 29407
Hours: 9am - 5pm daily
Free parking
Restrooms, snacks and picnic tables throughout the site

Winston approves! Dogs welcome everywhere except the animal zoo area. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

no take backs

When I was a kid, my little brother and I used to trade marbles with a "no take backs" rule. There was something thrilling about trading a prized possession for something as equally treasured by someone else. We would spend hours contemplating our collections. In the spirit of the great trade, gather together some special finds from nature and head to the SC Aquarium in downtown Charleston.

This is a perfect activity for a rainy day... Ollie's Trading Post is within the Aquarium and always welcomes  your finds. Your child can sign up and points are accrued by bringing in an item to share and trade for another exciting item of equal point value. Kids love this! You'll need to allow a little time for serious deliberating. For example, my son traded some shark teeth from a local beach for a deer antler and some sand from Puerto Rico and he can't stop talking about it.

The staff are warm and friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about your child's treasures. I love every aspect of this cool way to teach children the value of found items in their environment.

You will love the delighted looks on your children's faces as they consider the endless possibilities!

Ollie's Trading Post
Open daily at the SC Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC
Hours: Feb- 9am-4pm (building closes at 5pm)
March - August - 9am-5pm (building closes at 6pm)
Parking: public parking garage across the street
For more info on admission and planning your visit go to
PMK tip- I highly recommend a yearly pass. It's worth every penny.

For more information and trading item ideas, visit
PMK tip- you can fill in a trading post collector record before visiting by printing it out at home

Friday, February 22, 2013

We want to hear from you!

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God."
-Anne Frank, author of  The Diary of a Young Girl

I have traveled the globe from the outback of Darwin, Australia, to the hills of Tasmania, the beaches of Fiji, and the countryside of France, but one of my favorite spots on earth is Sullivan's Island, SC. My boys love every inch of it. Year after year, I sure am glad to call South Carolina home. We have so much more to explore and you can help us out!

Over the last 6 months, I have shared many of my favorites haunts with children in SC. Where are your favorite spots? Where are the comfort zones that make you happy to call SC home?

Share them with me here at  and I will endeavor to explore them and post them here on the blog!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Caw Caw

We recently headed to Ravenel, SC to the Caw Caw Interpretive Center and discovered a wetland habitat rich in history, wildlife, and trail after trail of lowcountry beauty. Start by picking a trail. We chose the 1.2 mile Swamp Sanctuary Trail for this walk and it was easy for any age and perfect for strollers too. It took us about an hour at a leisurely pace.

Picture yourself here... your only company are trees filled with wood peckers and otherwise complete silence.
On this particular day, we also saw a heron, several alligators, as well as many other birds including...

a rafter (yes, I had to google that) of wild turkeys, up close and in a hurry to get where they were going!

This is the most beautiful habitat for birds...

The boardwalk carries you across the swamp...

take your time... great fresh air, time to think about your surroundings, and absolute silence

Through the cypress-tupelo swamp, slaves of long ago cleared the land to create irrigated rice fields. It was sobering to think of the heat, mosquitoes and disease, and alligators that troubled their work. It remains a wonderful spot to stretch your legs and run.

 We spied a gator here at the waters edge and visible "'gator shoots" ( my boys call them ) where alligators slip down the bank into the reeds.

For me this spot was very eerie. The wind rustled through here and the reeds creaked. There was a  periodic splash through the swamp as we walked through this otherwise silent pathway; all leaving me with the feeling of a presence of something from ancient times here. My boys laughed at "kooky mama", but you walk through here and tell me what you think!

Run, don't walk to Caw Caw! It's a fabulous place.

Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Hwy 17 S
Ravenel, SC 29470
Hours: Wed - Sun 9am - 5pm, closed Mon and Tues
Admission: $1 per person (2yrs and under are free). Free to Gold Pass members
pmk tip: NO DOGS ALLOWED. Not permitted even if left in the car.
 No bikes permitted.
Clean restrooms, picnic tables; bring your own food and drinks
Gift shop and education buildings on site

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the camellias are coming! (Middleton Place part I)

We're not there yet, but we're getting close... the camellias are coming to Middleton Place and with them come the fantastic camellia walks Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Last year in March at Middleton Place, everything from camellias to azaleas bloomed in brilliant pinks and whites against the backdrop of vibrant green with touches of yellow daffodils.

It's a gorgeous place to wander with children; fairy-like gardens are absolutely laden with camellias as the month progresses. Put it on your calendar now!

Have you noticed that alligators are a common sighting on Pluff Mud Kids walks? We spotted this fella in the sun and he was a little too close for comfort.

Guided Camellia Walks at Middleton Place
Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Feb 14th- March 23 at 11:00am
Tour is approx 1 1/2 hours
Tickets: $25 (includes general admission) Free for Foundation members
pmk tip- we love the restaurant here for a great cup of tea!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Charleston Currents Feature

Check Monday's feature on

What's new for kids in Charleston is old ... and historical
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents

FEB. 18, 2013 -- "Why did George Washington visit Charleston so much? Why are some of the streets downtown so bumpy?"
Answers to these questions and many more can be found by children as they stumble across the rich history in Charleston and throughout South Carolina. Much of our national history has deep roots in our Carolina soil -- from those bumpy cobblestone streets scattered downtown to the monuments and grave markers we continually discover in local parks and state-wide trails.
Children love to be detectives and explorers. Our local stomping grounds allow them to unearth history as they play. Each year as they grow to understand and appreciate the history around them on a deeper level, they will find ways to connect with their city and state on a much more personal level. Here are some ways to introduce a bit of history to your children while adding in a healthy dose of fresh air, adventure and imaginative playtime:
  • Gibbes Museum of Art: In and around the museum, you will discover clues to the historical characters that peopled these streets of downtown Charleston in past times. Make a day of it with the posts linked here and here from Pluff Mud Kids blog.
  • Patriots Point Nature Trail and the USS Yorktown: This is an incredible adventure for children of all ages "right in our water," as my son put it. Children of third grade age and older will benefit the most as they have a better foundation of history to draw from. Little ones, however, will be thrilled by this impressive hand-on experience too! A great way to learn through doing and incorporating imaginative role play. More: Nature trail | USS Yorktown.
  • Cannon Park: My boys used to toddle around this great Charleston green space for years before I truly knew its rich history. Our interest is sparked by the question, "What are these columns for anyway, Mom?" More
  • Andrew Jackson State Park: Further afield, this historical landmark honors our seventh president, South Carolina-born Andrew Jackson. Run in the fields, hike the trails and marvel at the little one room school house. More here. And here.
Writer Leigh Sabine of Mount Pleasant offers a monthly look at fun activities for Lowcountry kids. It's based on her great blog, PluffMudKids. Check it out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the coast we love

Run the length of the waterfront park path in the dappled sun... (we love it here anytime of year for a picnic on a bench in the shade of the trees or in the full sun on the lawn)

head to the city gallery in front of the pineapple fountain...

tiptoe, whisper, and look at what these amazing photographers have done with our magnificent coastline!

Defining Focus: Views of the Coast
The photography of David Batchelder and Yve Assad
City Gallery at Waterfront Park
34 Prioleau St.
Charleston, SC 29401
Now until March 3rd, 2013
Admission is free

Friday, February 15, 2013

collective soul

Can I hear a collective sigh? Is this sky breathtaking, or what? This is the art of local artist Sheryl Stalnaker (check her out at SEWE this weekend; details below!) and her renderings of skies and water always make me stop to study them and reflect. Ever wonder just how they do it? Here are a few ways to begin to get a better understanding...

Have you ever felt that raising children has a way of chipping apart the surest pieces of yourself? Parenting is a selfless business. In giving so much of ourselves to focus and nurture our family, we often loose track of our own core elements; the interests that make us who we are as singular individuals. But sometimes voicing our own passions ignites a spark in our little ones. Running a marathon inspires a little runner, Playing the piano draws in a budding musician. 
Collect yourself. Express yourself and inspire your child. For me this meant a series of art classes in everything from oil paint to pastel chalks. Yep, that's me above toiling away in one of Sheryl Stalnaker's awesome art classes.

Sheryl teaches adults and children and gets you to see the world in a whole new way. You will notice the sky and water and colors around you with a keener eye. She is a great tutor; always prepared and inventive. Her classes are taught in her home studio and you will also have chances to work in "plein air"... I painted the dock scene below in a class and then bought the one Sheryl painted. No, I'd rather not share mine here! Sheryl deftly employs the use of a palette knife in her oil paintings and it is an inspiring technique you have to see, giving her paintings so much texture and life. I love having this day frozen in time...

Study the painting below and the one of that gorgeous sky above and then go and see the paint on the canvas for yourself this weekend at SEWE! Details on finding Sheryl Stalnaker at SEWE, and info on her upcoming classes for children are listed below.

Sheryl Stalnaker:
(Sheryl also has a great blog you can access from her website)

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition-
group exhibit of lowcountry artists
Mills House Hotel - Signers Ballroom, 1st Floor
115 Meeting St.

Friday Feb 15th 10am-6pm
Saturday Feb 16th 10am-6pm
Sunday Feb 17th 10am-5pm

Pluff Mud Kids recommends Sheryl's classes for kids - my sons took them and loved it!
*February-March Painting for Kids class
Beginning next Wednesday, kids will be completing fun painting projects and receive guided instruction while still allowing their own imaginations and creativity to blossom. Painting will be completed in acrylic, watercolor, pastel, and collage and each session will have an interesting theme.
Where: Stalnaker home studio, 90 N. Shelmore Blvd., Ion, Mt. Pleasant
When: Four classes - Wednesdays from 3:30 - 5:00pm. Feb 20th & 27th, March 13th & 20th ( no class March 6th).
Fee: $75, includes all materials. Limited to 8 students. Contact Sheryl for a registration form.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

USS Yorktown

This past weekend, the Yorktown glowed in the winter evening sun. This aircraft carrier has been commissioned and decommissioned several times and reclassified during it's long history. She has sailed all over the world, survived wars, appeared in movies, and stepped in to help the Apollo 8 space mission... 

But have you ever experienced the Yorktown as a class room and a playground? There is so much to learn here in a very hands on way on an extensive site. Listed below, the Yorktown website is incredible... it really makes planning a visit easy.

Our boys had the chance to spend the night on the Yorktown and sleep and eat as the sailors did, and you can too! It's the ultimate camp out...

Be sure to wear flat, comfortable shoes and be prepared to negotiate lots of steep stairs and narrow passageways. 

USS Yorktown at Patriots Point
40 Patriots Point Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
Open Daily 9am-6:30pm
Tickets: 9-5pm at the Patriots Point ticket office
Parking: $5 per day