Friday, November 29, 2013

swamp fox trail

Our Thanksgiving was decidedly different this year. It was deafeningly quiet.  The table here at home looked the same, but it didn't feel the same at all. There was a tinge of sadness in the air for our extended family as we are a man down due to the fact my Father is critically ill and could not hold court at the head of the table. Any of you readers with aging parents or those of you who have lost your parents know what this heavy feeling is like during the holidays. For our children's sake, we carry on as normal as possible. No football scrimmage this year (we missed you Mr. Randy!) but a quiet game of catch in the front yard... 

and some silly hats and games with Nanna who laughed through tears and put on a brave face...

kind neighbors and friends who brought hugs and thoughtful gifts...

We hope you all had a peaceful, relaxing, and delicious Thanksgiving Day and continue to relax over the long weekend. I'm not a Black Friday girl myself, but if you are one to participate in the search for a good deal today, here are a few local spots for kids ( we support the local!):

(this is not a sponsored post, we just love our local favorites!)

And here's an idea for family time if you are in the Charleston area this Thanksgiving weekend. This is a great pick no matter the weather - just wear old clothes if it's wet or rainy and be prepared to get a little muddy. There is a good, even bed of pine needles here though and also a heavy canopy of trees to offer shelter all along the way. The Swamp Fox Passage up Awendaw way is our pick for biking, running, and hiking...

This is part of the Palmetto Trail and it runs for miles and miles. We chose to do a total of 4 miles round trip on this particular day with our boys on bikes and my husband and I running. 

You can park in the lot directly off Highway 17 where the trail begins. ( this is not the same as the Ion Swamp Trail which is closer to Mt. Pleasant). Click the link above for all the details and have an adventure on the trail this weekend! We're off to Trek bikes in Mt. Pleasant (there's a big Black Friday sale here today too) to upgrade the boys' small bike frames with Trek's fantastic kids bike upgrade program detailed here. Tell them you read about it on Pluff Mud Kids!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving musings 2013

a recipe-

This great recipe for cranberry sauce just came to me in the mail via my Aunt in England and I can't wait to try it this Thanksgiving:

Cranberry and Pear Sauce

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • juice and rind of one medium orange
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbls port
  1. Place the fresh cranberries, sugar, water, orange juice and rind into a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries begin to burst open (fun for kids to watch).
  2. Add the chopped pears and simmer for a further 30 minutes, or until soft, then stir in the port.
  3. Carefully pour into sterilized jars and once cooled seal the lids tightly.
We found these great little jars at Southern Season here in Mt. Pleasant...

a book-

We found this cool book about the origins of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and it is fascinating.

a movie-

At Thanksgiving, I always think of my favorite movie Giant (with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean) and the scene with Pedro the turkey. Watch it here

We are looking forward to catching the new movie Frozen over the Thanksgiving break.

on our table-

This prayer die is a staple on our table. Kids can give it a roll and say their own Thanksgiving prayer. We found ours locally here in the store at Mepkin Abbey.

We wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mr. Winston Churchill and the Lego giveaway

So I decided to do a fun, free give-away on the blog and my mother said " Well love, that's a bit of a shameful, self-promoting ploy for the blog, isn't it?". Ouch! I can always rely on her for telling it like it is! In truth she's right, but it was sincerely just a way to have a bit of fun too. In honor of that spirit, we called on Pluff Mud pup Winston Churchill to pull out his top hat and pick a winner to let you know it was a completely random selection. He somehow managed not to eat it in the process. ( No, he's not a Sasquatch, he's just tardy for the groomer). And the winner is...

Cullinsblessings! Congrats and thanks for playing, y'all!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Art with a Twist Gibbes' Kids presents The Little Match Girl

Taking ten year old boys to the ballet can be amusing. I forgot that my boys had not seen a ballet for a few years and so the comment "What? There's no talking in ballet, Mama?" took me off guard. The plus side of this is watching them really focus on every movement to unravel the plot. Attending this performance last Saturday reminded me that the beauty is in all the little details like the "conversation" in the dancers' eyes (as shown above).

This past Saturday, the Gibbes Museum of Art offered a special sneak preview of The Little Match Girl as part of their "Art with a Twist" series for Gibbes' Kids. Choreographed by Jonathan Tabbert with music composed by Laura Ball, Chamber Music Charleston sounded amazing inside the sunlit Circular Congregational Church downtown. This intimate stage provided a chance for young children to gather up close to watch the performance by students of the Charleston Dance Institute.

I'd like to share four of the most sincere reviews by some little friends of mine who attended the performance and they are as follows...

"My favorite character was The Little Match Girl. I also loved the girl in the Fire costume and I thought parts of the story were sad. I loved the music." - Charlotte Grace Halford (age 8)

" The Little Match Girl was so beautiful and graceful but when the fire came she danced so fast. There was a naked man with a funny leotard in the ballet too!" - sisters Reeve(6) and Rose(5) Kotz

" The best part was that guy with the big muscles in the turkey suit!" - Cole Sabine "I liked the music the best and the way the sun came into those glass windows." - Aidan Sabine (twins, age 10)

Coming soon, your chance to catch the Full Stage Performance!

The Rose Maree Meyers Theater
Charleston County School of the Arts
5109-B West Enterprise Street, North Charleston
Tickets: $20 adult, $10 child. 
Saturday December 14th (2pm and 7pm) and Sunday December 15th (3pm), 2013
click here for the link to Charleston Dance Institute's Facebook page for interesting details
To purchase tickets, click here

*special thanks to the Gibbes Museum of Art for inviting Pluff Mud Kids to enjoy this special event!

Last chance to click here and comment on the blog to win a free Lego set valued at $110! Offer ends today!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

colors to be thankful for

The light is changing as we move toward winter. We noticed the evening light cast shadows in the kitchen making eerie pictures on the wall.

Now's the time for the softest orange in the Lowcountry sunsets.

Winter white peonies that smell like a garden in England. My favorite.

Finally finding that perfect grey, only to begin the search for the perfect holiday red.


That steely blue in the Blue Ridge mountains.

My favorite fall color by far is the spark of burnt orange in the marsh that glistens in the sun.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Charleston Currents feature - November 2013

Extra,Extra! This week suddenly arrived on the calendar and I realized it's time to pack the shoe boxes... it's not to late to participate and Courtney over at a work in progress makes the process so easy with this great post detailing how to put a box together check it out!

Winter play activities for the holidays
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents
NOV. 18, 2013 -- Kids are simple beings. They don't ever really need bells and whistles and fancy trimmings to make a gift exciting. The gift of an experience and a little time outside in the presence of family is always the part of the season my boys reflect on the most.
There are lots of options highlighted here for outdoor activities from the Lowcountry to the Upstate. Bundle up with your family and play outside to create a lasting memory of the season.
Climb: Did you know there's a challenging climbing wall at the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park? The concept is to scramble to the top to ring the Christmas bell, but it's not as easy as it looks. For more details and a peek at this experience, click here.
Beach Bonfire: There's nothing better than toasting marshmallows around a campfire on Caper's Island. The winter months are peaceful times to catch a sunset, fish and explore the beach. Call ahead to reserve a spot.
Skate: The Carolina Ice Palace feels like an outdoor event but you can enjoy the comfort and security offered by an indoor rink when teaching tired little legs to skate. Learning here has helped my family progress to enjoy bigger, outdoor rinks.
Ice On Main is reopening for the season from Nov. 29, 2013. through Jan. 20, 2014. The United Community Bank on Main Street in Greenville offers a unique chance to ice skate outside right in the heart of downtown Greenville. Watch Pluff Mud Kids blog for highlights from this season.
Hike In and Camp Out: Jones Gap State Park in the Upstate is a fantastic spot for winter camping and hiking. A short, easy hike is perfect for families carrying their gear yet you feel like you're a million miles away from the hectic pace of the season. More details on this great state park.
Winter Beach Walk: Our local beaches are still beautiful and refreshing on a cold winter's day. Kids love to run or bike on the hard-packed sand. Kiawah Island is a great place to find long stretches of sand to provide an afternoon of exercise. Stop at nearby Freshfield's Village for lunch and warm up. More.

Check out yesterday's post for a chance to win a free LEGO set

Sunday, November 17, 2013

inventive with Lego

"Inventing is a combination of brains and materials.
 The more brains you use, the less material you need."
- Charles Kettering, inventor who procured 186 patents.

I was feeling kind of blue and needed a pick-me-up. My son built a tool out of Lego to froth milk and made me a latte.

Ummm... I have no words. 

Patent pending...

Learn to build locally at Brick by Brick in the Belle Hall Shopping Center in Mt. Pleasant. Check out this Groupon

Did you know Wonderworks now sells Lego? 

We love Lego architecture on Amazon for boys and girls

Does your child love Lego as much as we do? Come back tomorrow for a chance to comment on the blog and you could win a pre-Christmas Lego give-away!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Solitary Hike - Jones Gap State Park

On a recent trip to Greenville, I headed off north toward Caesars Head State Park to hike but decided to stop along the way to check out the trails at Jones Gap State Park. This was to be a solitary hike. By this I mean all by myself; something I had never done before. Why now? Over the past year we have explored many of our state parks and I have featured quite a few here on the blog. Every park we've visited has left me feeling very impressed by the level of care and attention the park rangers give to all the guests and I wanted to see how it would feel to leave my information with a ranger and bravely go where I have never gone before. Besides, it was a gorgeous day and I really wanted to experience the peace and quiet only nature can offer.

This park is over 3,000 acres and is part of the Palmetto Trail which is an extensive network of hiking and biking paths that weave a path across our state ( now comprises 315 miles and targeted to reach 425 at completion). I checked in with the ranger at the welcome station and we chose Jones Gap Falls as my destination with a total of around 3 miles from my starting point ( I chose this as I plan to return with my boys and wanted to find a trail that was reasonably challenging with a great surprise at the turn-around point. Nothing like a waterfall to entice a kid on a hike!). We estimated my round trip finish time and he assured me he had my back and would come looking for me if I didn't return in the target time range. When I showed him what I had in my day pack he tried not to laugh too hard - let's just say I was prepared for anything including bears, snakes, weirdos, searing heat, and a blizzard. If you've read this blog for any length of time, it's safe to say you have already realized I'm a planner and never leave home with two boys unprepared for mishaps and calamities. The trail choices are extensive and geared for all trekking abilities...

This particular trail is arduous in that it is the rockiest "flat" trail I've hiked. Allow a bit more time for your youngsters to scramble their way along...

The trail is beautiful as it winds along the river bank. Watch out for posted markings - I almost missed this one and would have ended up much higher up at Rainbow Falls...

You can hike in to a spot at the base of the Falls to camp, though you are encouraged to leave all your food, toothpaste, etc in the car as bears are prevalent here. Keep pressing on and you will arrive at the Falls...

This is a protected refuge for birds and other wildlife and I didn't see another soul the entire afternoon. This is such a tranquil space in the world...

 We are absolutely spoiled in this state with so many excellent hiking trails. This was a perfect way to take a break from the conference I was attending and the city...

Go and hike it and enjoy the Falls!

Jones Gap State Park
303 Jones Gap Rd, Marietta, SC 29661
(240 miles north of Charleston, SC)
For all information on hours, admissions, and up to date trail advisories, click here
A membership to the SC State Parks is a seriously good value. To buy one click here. It would make a great family Christmas gift.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

post-park warm up

If you take my tip from yesterday and check out the Sullivan's Island park this weekend you can beat the bitter cold by heading across the street to The Co-Op for a fresh cup of hot soup. My girlfriend got in touch with me the minute she learned that local vegetable soup was on the menu today so we met for a quick lunch to taste test - so hearty on a chilly day like today and I'm all about doing my homework for this blog. The Co-Op uses fresh local ingredients...

In true co-op fashion, you can even sign up to pick up your local produce here...

We found a patch of sun and this vegetable soup was honestly some of the best I've ever had. Not too salty or overly seasoned, just perfection...

Grab a fresh soup to go. So good.

The Co-Op
2019 Middle St, Sullivan's Island


Sullivan's Island park offers a great sunny spot for winter play. Good climbing on new equipment...

Better swings and a fantastic field to run and run and run...

Best shade awning ever! Go play, y'all!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Gibbes with a twist for kids

 If you've ever heard the Hans Christian Andersen story of The Little Match Girl you will love seeing it come to life this Saturday. First published in December of 1845, this beautiful story can be soaked in by boys and girls of all ages and I plan to take my ten year old boys to see it for the first time. The Circular Congregational Church is directly across the street from the art museum and it is one of our favorite cosy downtown venues. Read below to learn more about this special performance offered by the Gibbes.

    photo Tom McCorkie

For the Gibbes Museum website and more information on this event click here

Monday, November 11, 2013

thank you veterans

Do you personally know a veteran? If not, I'd like you to meet my Dad. He is a veteran of both the Vietnam and Korean Wars and I'm sharing this photo of him in civilian clothes because it's my favorite picture of him and it really shows how fresh-faced and eager he was to serve our country at the tender age of 19. He is the kind of man who enlisted willingly and simply states that he felt it was his duty. 

Recently, I hit the pause button on this blog because my brothers and my mother and I needed to "circle the wagons" (one of my Dad's great expressions) as it is now our turn to serve our Dad. He has suffered greatly these past few weeks and continues to do so. When I asked him about the possible side effects of his exposure to Agent Orange in both the conflicts in which he served he responded that the result does not change his patriotism or his decision to serve. He is some kind of man alright. So too are both my brothers, my uncle, and all the other men and women who serve to defend our nation. If you have not done so yet today, take a moment to pray for and thank a veteran.

The following sweet card is an example of many cards that were made today by classmates of my son because they didn't personally know a veteran and now they do...