Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seasons in life

Like a falling leaf in mid air as it drifts slowly to reach the ground, sometimes you wish you could freeze a moment in time. For me this is one of those moments as I enter this season of life with my Dad still with us and my family still intact. It's time for me to take a brief break to be by my Dad's side. I leave you for the moment with some glimpses of the state my family loves...

shoot the horse - the Upcountry

On a crisp 38 degree morning this past weekend, I headed into the Upcountry just north of Greenville, SC armed with my new camera and a mission to shoot some pictures and learn more. My family bought me a Sony nex-3 with multiple lenses yet I have struggled to find the time to really learn how to use it, though I've had it since August. I do love it and am eager to learn. I hope you will see my progress reflected here on the blog...

Spying this beautiful, meticulously manicured horse farm was reason enough to stop and linger with some very friendly subjects who posed for me in the warm sun...

My long lens lets me get up close and personal without actually trespassing or getting kicked in the teeth! This fella was stunning and his painted coat gleamed in the morning light. He seemed to know how gorgeous he was and had a regal air about him. Everything was going great until, one by one, the horses all decided I wasn't that interesting and they preferred to pick patches of warm sun and roll on their backs. They lollygagged about stretching their legs as the morning warmed up...

Stay tuned for more impressions of the Upstate and some of it's fantastic state parks.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Make It Monday - stitches

"Mama, do we have olives?"


"Mama, do we have Q-tips? Lots of Q-tips?"


"Mama, what's an awl?"

We hollowed out, sketched, and cut...

cut in half and re-attach...

Stitches take a long time. My son said "this is not one of the recommended uses for a Q-tip according to the box."

Things are taking shape...

He fits right in...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall in downtown Charleston

One of my favorite times of year is right now. The air is turning cooler, the leaves are turning color, and downtown Charleston glows. The best way to see it is to walk it slowly with children...enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

finding fall this weekend

I am heading to the upstate to find Fall this weekend, but there's a lot going on here in Charleston too if you're seeking Fall. You can still hit the beach for a Fall dip if you're brave...

Or find a wet suit on sale at Air and Earth in Mt. Pleasant. You could pitch a tent on a local beach - click here for details on camping on Capers Island...

Or head over to Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch for an afternoon filled with activities. Click here for all the details.

Also this weekend:

boo at the zoo at Riverbanks zoo in Columbia, SC

magnolia gardens family fright nights

Chamber Music Charleston's Halloween Concert

Make it a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I want my mummy!!!

"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway."
-John Wayne, actor

Notes from the field: Fright Night at Boone Hall Plantation...

Every year, as we drive past the haunted house at Boone Hall Plantation, my boys ask " Does that look like fun, mom? Do you think it's scary?" I don't like not knowing the answer to one of their pressing questions and I always say " I think it's too scary for us", meaning that if a corn maze is too scary for me, I don't think I can handle a haunted house. I don't like scary, gory, graphic, or gruesome. However, I have tried many things for this blog in the name of research that I would not normally try  (I actually hate being stuck in pluff mud and it happens all the time) and I am prepared to take one for the team and test out Fright Night to answer the burning question once and for all " Just how scary is Fright Night?!"

The Mission: a) be brave and stay for more than 5 minutes. b) keep an open mind. Some people actually enjoy this sort of thing. c) find out if children go to Fright Night d) don't pass out or cry

The Accomplices: 18 year old Pluff Mud Kid niece and three of her friends(there's safety in numbers). She's cool, fun, and fearless and she'll hold my hand. Actually, we clung to one another in a pack like baby koalas the entire night...

(if it rains, make sure you wear rain boots because it's very muddy and a coat with a hood helps protect you from zombies- hehe)

Last words: I can't tell you how much I don't want to do this, but at least I can cross it off my bucket list. Wait a minute, it's not on my bucket list. What am I thinking?...

How scary was it? Terrifying. I would have taken better pictures but I was too busy screaming and running for my life from unbelievably realistic sights like this one...

             (*my editing team decided to remove this photo as it was too gruesome)

We started with the haunted house which was very scary with it's amazing props and sound effects. We then headed over to the haunted hayride via a long walk through rows of corn in total darkness. The hayride was extremely well done and definitely creepy. We ended the night with "zombie town" and I have to say it was absolutely terrifying. My niece was so scared she bolted from the group in the very first moments and ran like a rabbit through the entire "town" screaming the whole way. All in all, we had an absolute blast and laughed as much as we screamed but I personally don't think this is for small children. I can't forget the sweet twelve year old boy and his older brother we met on the hayride. He was traumatized to say the least and I don't think he'll ever have a good night sleep again! I did see a number of children around the age of nine or ten and that surprised me. I think this was worth every penny of the $27 entrance fee which included all the attractions. Boone Hall has done a fantastic job with organizing this ( plenty of staff, well organized lines and parking) but I would recommend this for teens and older rather than young children.

Did you know that, in a recent study, "one in four college students said they experience lingering effects of a frightful movie or TV experience from childhood"? (click on the study below to read more) What about if the fright inducing sight is coming at you live with a chain saw in his hands?! ( yes, this too is part of Fright Night).
Now read this University of Michigan study about how scary images effect our children

click here for all the details on Boone Hall Fright Nights (I'll warn you that even the website is scary!)

*Special thanks to my Fright Night crew!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Charleston Currents feature- October 2013

Four ways for children to find local history preserved
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents
OCT. 21, 2013 -- When it comes to learning about our rich local history, I like to find ways to visually reinforce the facts so that my children can easily recall images linked with historical details.
In Charleston, we are spoiled for choice with historic sites, local art, books and photography that can all come together as teaching aids outside of a classroom. As an extension to a lesson plan, why not take your children to the precise spot where the historical event occurred? Reading children's books tailored to the subject and studying old photographs are also ways to ingrain local history into the mind of a child and help them feel more connected to their hometown. In terms of an impressive local history, we certainly have it all here in Charleston and here are four easy ways to see it through the eyes of a child:
  • Photography And The American Civil War at the Gibbes Museum of Art: Now through January 5, you and your children can soak in the images of the Civil War battlefields preserved in these remarkable photographs displayed in tintypes, tiny breast-pocket photos carried by soldiers, and other personal artifacts in this exhibition. This blog post on Pluff Mud Kids details the exhibition which is a perfect complement for any school curriculum. My children felt as if they had been immersed in the lives of the soldiers depicted here for the time we spent here at the museum and the visual images made a lasting impression they will always associate with this piece of our nation's history. More.
  • The USS Yorktown: If your children have never witnessed the USS Yorktown firsthand, put it on your list of places to get to this year to make a massive historical impression. Touring this aircraft carrier is a hands-on way to learn about the roles the vessel has played as both a commissioned and now decommissioned military craft. This feels like a playground to a child and will make for a memorable learning experience. For details, click here. (Photo by Leigh Sabine.)
  • The Fiddlers of Sullivan's Island: This new book for children (adults will love it, too) by local author Jeanie Heath transports the reader to Sullivan's Island and the home of the fiddler crabs. Beautifully illustrated with local photography, Heath has preserved this island history and shares it with generations to come. To preview the book, click here for the Pluff Mud Kids blog post. Pick up a copy of the book locally at Royal Ace Hardware or purchase on Amazon and make this a favorite bedtime story while learning about the natural habitat of our local fiddler crabs. More.
  • Hampton Plantation picnic: For a great picnic spot steeped in history, I can't recommend Hampton Plantation enough. Located in McClellanville, S.C., this plantation home is the ideal backdrop for a lesson in history and dates back to 1735. You can sit in the shade of an oak tree preserved by none other than George Washington while you talk about the historical relevance of this beautiful plantation home that once belonged to the Rutledge family. A picnic is a favorite way for children to happily associate a historic site with an important part of American history. For more details on viewing Hampton Plantation with children, visit this blog post.
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. (Photos by Leigh Sabine.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

podunk, prosperity, and tribulation

What's in a name? In light of the fact that our very own Charleston, SC has just been proclaimed #1 city in the United States for the third year in a row (watch this) I started thinking about what brought me here in the first place 16 years ago. I was born in Augusta, Georgia and when I returned there several years ago to the little house I was raised in until I was two, it made me realize instantly that the feeling of pine needles under my feet is one of the things I love most about living in the South. Of all the places I've been in the world, I love living in Charleston the most. I also love all the little podunk towns in the state that may not be notable for having anything particularly exciting going on, but are as equally as charming as our Charleston.

So what's a place got to have to draw you to it? Sometimes it's all about the interesting name. The little town of Prosperity, SC may not be worthy of  the Conde Nast Traveler list of ideal places, but it has it's own merits if your looking for iconic Southern charm...

Other names of places that might make your Top 10 travel list:

 My husband and I arrived in Charleston via Australia... places like Coober Pedy captured our hearts because it was, well, weird.

 Take a look at Cape Tribulation here (is there anything like tribulation to make a place sound inviting?)

My Number One dream destination yet to visit Capri, Italy

I've heard the surfing is great in El Salvador

I would like to have dinner at Noma in Denmark

This little Cornish village in England is special, don't let the name Portwrinkle mislead you!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

pluff mud kids people - author Jeanie Heath

Meet Eugenia Truesdale Heath, or "Jeanie", as I know her. Jeanie was born and raised on Sullivan's Island back in the 1940's and 50's when the island was still chiefly populated by Fiddler Crabs, not people. She has a sharp memory for a time I wish I'd known and is happy to share her reflections. She was baptized in pluff mud and knows everything there is to know about the Fiddler Crabs of her childhood. As a former educator, Jeanie knows a thing or two about what appeals to children too and she has written and produced this lovely book titled The Fiddlers of Sullivan's Island...

With cover art by local artist John Albrecht and illustrated throughout with beautiful photography, Jeanie has crafted a treasure trove of memories that help to preserve a piece of  Sullivan's Island forever. Told through the eyes of "Scurry" the Fiddler Crab, this story details the life of a Fiddler Crab and deals with the issues of population growth and how the influx of people changed the natural habitat of Fiddler Crabs over time. I was fortunate to hear Jeanie read this book out loud in rough draft form and am now delighted to see the finished product complete with Jeanie's little touches on every page...

I highly recommend this book for all school libraries and it will make a great Christmas gift idea for everyone on your list... children and adults.  You can find the book at Royal Ace Hardware and other local retailers (coming soon to Barnes and Noble) and also on Amazon. Jeanie is a true original and a lovely lady (such a great laugh and sense of humor) - thanks for stopping by for tea, Jeanie!

moonrise coming - Friday, October 18th, 2013

Hunters moon this Friday evening - perfect to view from the beach!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Birdman's view: inside a corn maze

I have an irrational fear of corn mazes. I was recently reassured by a kind gentleman at the Niven's Apple Farm corn maze (while I stood breathlessly waiting for my family to emerge from the sky high corn) that they had "never in all my years truly lost anyone" in the maze. What did he mean by truly? If I'm only sort of lost in that mile high corn, that's good enough for me. I have been very careful not to project my heart-pounding panic onto my children...I just stand calmly off to the side and sweat it out but I'm always overjoyed to see them come thundering down the path with whoops of joy signaling they survived succeeded in cracking the maze. There is usually a great look out point within a corn maze like this one at Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch here in Mt. Pleasant...

I offered up my camera and my first born child, "Birdman", (who was delighted to chronicle the corn maze race) and he reappeared a looooong time later chock full of interesting facts about apples he'd learned along the way...

Here are some links to great corn mazes in South Carolina:

Niven's Apple Farm (Moore, SC maze in the shape of an apple)

Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch ( Mt. Pleasant maze honors Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure)

Legare Farms (Johns Island maze)

Check this great site for many more corn mazes!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

get your pumpkins now

Have you chosen your pumpkins yet? On Sunday we realized the Hibben United Methodist Church pumpkin patch on Coleman Blvd in Mt. Pleasant has been hit hard but there's still a great selection of pumpkins of every description...

Use the links below to find your perfect pumpkin!

to name just a few...

Hibben United Methodist Church

Legare Farms

Boone Hall pumpkin patch

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Make It Monday - school lunch apple pockets

We took the last of our orchard apples and simmered them into a great applesauce: chopped apples, water, a little sugar, lemon juice, and our secret weapon...

4 or 5 twists of this cinnamon sugar grinder from Trader Joe's turns out to be the perfect touch of cinnamon.

Combine the apples, water, 2 Tbls sugar, lemon juice, and that touch of cinnamon sugar and "cook the apples down" or "stew" them as my Nanna used to say. Then use your favorite pie crust recipe or this quick easy option from Whole Foods (it's great)...

Roll the crust and cut out thin rounds to press into a greased mini quiche pan...

Then spoon the applesauce into the mini quiche pan and add a top to each one...

Bake them at 350 for 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. These are soooo delicious and your kids will gobble them up.