Saturday, May 31, 2014

art walk with kids: Marion Square Piccolo Spoleto

One of my favorite FREE events during the weeks of Spoleto is the art stroll at Marion Square. Kids love art and these artists are some of the best in South Carolina - a great chance for children to ask questions that real artists can answer. Check back next week for some closer looks at the artists here. Here's a preview of what you'll see around the square...

Piccolo Spoleto Art Festival at Marion Square - now through June 7th, 2014
329 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29403
PMK tip- I've had great luck with free parking along Calhoun Street. Alternatively,  click here for link to parking garages
Hours: 10am- 5 or 6pm daily (depending on the day - check the schedule below)
click this link for everything you need to know about the daily schedule of events at the Piccolo Spoleto Art Festival.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Black River Berries: images

Black River Berries, Salter, SC - prolific, delicious, gone June 20th. Get 'em while you can!

Black River Berries - click for more information

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Steppin' Out: Lana

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience."
-James Beard

Chef John Ondo - Lana                                                                                                                    

There is a place on the outskirts of Spoleto venues where you might just get a table before a Spoleto performance - call early, go early. Then linger at Lana. Here are the A to Zs...

Bowl of olives. Yes, please.
Cheese plate
Butter short Dough
English peas
Happy hour
Lunch Monday through Friday
LemoN tart
Chef Ondo - read this great article about Lana creator Chef John Ondo
Pommes frittes 
210 Rutledge St.
Short ribs
Up the street parking
Vichyssoise. The best. I mean crazy good.
We didn't get to the dessert menu. Next time, next time...
X-closed Sunday
SC honeY

*compiled with the help of Pluff Mud Kids

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Charleston Currents Feature- May 2014

Inspiring art and music in Lowcountry kids
By LEIGH SABINE, contributing editor
Special to Charleston Currents

MAY 26, 2014 -- The buzz of art and music that flows from downtown Charleston streets filled with Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto events always reminds me of performances that my children attended there years ago that instilled a yearning to play an instrument themselves.
I would never have thought to begin piano lessons while my boys were still in kindergarten had it not been for a friend who's child played the violin at the Charleston Academy of Music. We launched into lessons never realizing that four years later our children would be playing together in a Piccolo Spoleto event as performers in their own right.
Whether your child chooses art or music or a combination of both, getting started at a young age is all about finding the right fit with a teacher and program. We have one twin taking lessons in classical piano at the Charleston Academy of Music and the other twin studies jazz piano with a teacher who comes to our home. endeavors to research and test area programs in art and music that we then recommend to our readers.
Listed below are a few of the options we have tried and have years of experience with. These programs have earned our wholehearted endorsement. As you enjoy everything Spoleto has to offer this year, look to these options as a starting point for music and art for your own family:
  • The Charleston Academy of Music. At 189 Rutledge Avenue in downtown Charleston, this centrally-located school of music offers piano, voice, cello, classical guitar, violin, flute, clarinet, viola and music theory as well as a Kidzymphony Orchestra and summer camps. Lessons are available for children and adults and there is an honors program that offers scholarships for talented and hard working students. The academy also offers performance classes, master classes with guest artists and recitals throughout the year, as well as participation in the Charleston Music Association Piano Achievement Day to encourage students to learn the art of sharing their music. More info.
  • Charleston Piano Lessons. Jazz pianist Dan McCurry has been teaching piano for more than seven years and brings patience and a knowledge of performing to his student lessons. Dan also offers opportunities for students to work toward recitals during the year and perform at the Charleston Music Association Piano Achievement Day held annually. More information on setting up in-home lessons.
  • The Gibbes For Kids. For many years, the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston has extended its fine art programming to include young children and budding artists through a series of art classes and unique summer camps. What better way to become familiar and at home in the museum while encouraging an appreciation for art in your child. These programs offer a chance for children to dabble in many types of art -- from painting and drawing to photography and art history. For a detailed account of this year's summer camps, click here for a story and information on these great programs.
  • Sheryl Stalnaker Studio Art. Lowcountry artist Sheryl Stalnaker, whose work is featured in 2014 Piccolo Spoleto at Marion Square, offers small group classes in the comfort of her studio in Mount Pleasant for adults and children. Stalnaker's summer camps are a great way to get your child started on a path of art and offer instruction in many types of art mediums. Children have an opportunity to study art in nature outdoors as well as indoor studio time. For a detailed description of the classes available to students, click herefor more information and an interview with artist Sheryl Stalnaker.
These resources are but a few of the fine opportunities for children in the community to embark on a journey of discovery through art and music. In the process, they just might stick with something that enhances their education and provides a skill that lasts a lifetime.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial reflection

    Vietnam Veterans  Memorial - Washington DC, May 2014

In honor of all the men and women who have sacrificed their lives defending our nation, we continue to look, learn, reflect, and remember.

Friday, May 23, 2014

saving summer vs selling summer

Remember the old stand by in school when you were tasked with writing about what you did over the summer? I grew up in a nest of ideal, old-fashioned summers filled with swimming in a lake, water skiing, goofing around in a two- kid sailboat, lying in the grass on the hill at the back of our house reading til the fireflies came out, and watching summer storms while eating a Popsicle from the comfort of a lawn chair on the front porch. My mom was the the Kool aid mom and we owned the spare lot with the perpetual baseball game. It was an idealistic time of long, unscheduled days of humid summer... but the years were short.

 My brothers and I never went to morning classes of any kind, much less a camp. My Mum was the camp, providing snacks and a watchful eye from her crows nest at the kitchen window. Back in the days before seat belts and bike helmets, when running the streets of our neighborhoods freely was still PC, we kids had to be hunted down and corralled to go on day trips and excursions which always included collecting rocks for my Mum's rock garden. We tagged alongside my prim and proper British Mum as she stood her ground and bartered with the truck drivers at the local truck stop over the purchase of giant inner tubes as a chief form of entertainment for all the neighborhood kids swimming in the lake.  She was full of suggestions to fill voids of time - there was a grove of low lying bushes to build forts in and a vacant weekend house overgrown with lilac bushes that my little brother and I used for making our special lilac "perfume" concoctions. That was as close as we got to an organized science camp. The biggest expense my parents faced in terms of summer fun were the purchases of a few hoola hoops, those giant inner tubes, and enough cookies to feed a small army on a daily basis. A $200 camp for one week? Never.

 I can't recall ever being bored. The summer always drew to a close with the feeling of regret that there had not been enough time to do nothing. I've always felt that these summers were what taught me to be content with being alone with my thoughts, resourceful about conjuring up simple ways to be creative, and instilled a general sense of calm that has stayed with me as an adult. Looking back I realize that stressed, rushed, and over scheduled are never words I'd use to describe my childhood. I never want to associate those words with my children's life either.

However, as I said in a post on a favored camp a while back, I'm grateful that there are some amazing options offered nowadays to add interest to our children's summers. I could come up with some kitchen experiments to try with my boys, but when I compare this to a full blown chemistry class at Trident taught by an actual scientist in a real science lab I have to confess I would have loved that option as a kid! What kid wouldn't? I can hardly believe our luck that Trident is willing to open up their kitchens, labs, and classrooms to young children with big creative brains. (refer to the "Camp" button for more summer camp ideas)

Summer is big business nowadays but we still plan to hold on to our Popsicles, slip-n-slide, water balloons, and nerf guns as long as we possibly can because, after all, the number of summers left is fading faster than fireflies in a jar.

*this post dedicated to CAC, my summer partner in crime and master firefly catcher

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto

            photo credit: - Seed and Feed Marching Abominable

With over 36 million fellow Americans cramming the highways this Memorial Day weekend, it's a perfect time to stay home in beautiful Charleston...

If you've ever shied away from Spoleto thinking it's a bit too highbrow and the brochure seems too overwhelming, I can assure you it's worth sitting down and carving out some time downtown to take in an event or too. There is truly something for everyone and the performances span every genre of art and music. Many of the performances are free as well, making this a festival of sights and sounds for everyone - you'll see your city in a whole new light. Want to know what the Spoleto festival of arts and music is really all about? Check out this great blog that chronicles in detail all the featured events.

Beginning tomorrow, Friday, May 23rd and running through June 8th, each and every day is jam packed with great options - pull up this schedule at a glance to see what's on offer each day. This Piccolo Spoleto space features a calendar of events that are perfect for young children and are often free.

Pluff Mud Kids' picks a few we know well for opening weekend:

  • For Moms and Dads: Daphne du Maurier’s 'My Cousin Rachel' presented by the Gate Theater of Dublin - Details here
  • For Families: The Charleston Academy of Music Young Performers - details here - Sunday May 23rd and featuring pianist Aidan Sabine (my son! Had to throw that in there...) 
  • For a girls night out: Piccolo Fringe: Mary Kay has a Posse - if you want to laugh out loud, this production is hilarious and full of fresh ideas! details here
  • For even the littlest kids: SEED & FEED MARCHING ABOMINABLE: Patriotic Concert- performing at the Customs House this is one your kids will love! details here
  • For the art lover in all of us: Need a very special piece for your home? Now's your chance to support your local South Carolina artists at Marion Square details here
Spoleto comes but once a year - enjoy as much as you can!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dewees Island story Part II: fishing and crabbing with Ted


Meet Ted Fairchild. Ever met a child that is so squared away you forget you're talking to a youth rather than an adult? That's Ted. He runs his own fishing and crabbing game over on Dewees Island - there's nothing Ted doesn't know about the finer points of casting a net and the nuances of each and every fishing honey hole on the island. A student of voice at the School of the Arts, Ted is personable and talented and he's happy to share his island life experiences. (and yes, that's right, he commutes daily to and from the island to school!)

On a recent fishing trip over Spring break that we shared with another family, we fished from each and every spot with every type of bait imaginable - shrimp, live crabs, you name it. We had no less then 5 lines in the water all week and caught nothing...nothing!

 In desperation (and with perhaps a few libations) we even tried concocting our own secret bait recipes. Mine consisted of cheese puffs, pancake batter, bread, and were fried firm in olive oil - anything to try and coax a fish. And still...nothing. The only thing biting were the seagulls who would swoop down and take my bait balls whole right off the line...

Time to call in the big guns. Sweet Ted arrived with all his gear and an eagerness to save us from ourselves. He is great with kids... 

"Stand back, this next part gets gruesome!", said Ted somewhat joyfully as he smashed a bait fish on the dock with his bare feet. You've just gotta love this guy and his island life. Thanks for the help, Ted!

Check out the Dewees Island blog here and I highly recommend contacting Ted through the blog if you and your children are interested in polishing your fishing and crabbing skills this summer!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2 weeks, 2 funerals, 5 states

    Charleston Riverdogs Joe Riley Stadium

When life throws you a massive curve ball, do you dig your heels into the turf and brace yourself to catch and carry on or do you find yourself caught off guard flailing for the fence, glove raised in hopeless desperation, praying for a miracle?
Grief can knock you sideways. In the past two weeks I've been to two funerals crossing five states - one planned and ceremonial, one sudden and tragic - and the two have left me stunned. Funerals have a way of placing a final note that helps those left behind begin to move forward but the grief we feel lingers and pervades our thoughts and daily lives in such a way that we forever after mark time in "before the death/after the death" order.

Through the process of grieving, the best book I've found that has truly helped when nothing else can is this  book of 365 days of  meditation written by a woman who lost her daughter at a young age and struggled through the first year of grief determined to somehow come out the other side. By all accounts, the first year is the most numbing and brutal and this book is a template on how to walk the walk. If you've never lost a loved one, file this away for a future time of need...

Returning home to Charleston, SC did drive one thing home... for the hundredth time I thanked my lucky stars that this beautiful place is where I choose to live.

Magnolia Cemetery- Charleston, SC                                                   photo: Kylie Sabine photography


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dewees Island story Part I: wild wild life

Meet my friend 'Fat Larry' from Dewees Island. There are 3 interesting things about this photo. 1) Fat Larry was ever- present lounging in the sun the entire week of Spring Break - we saw him every day in virtually the same spot. It wasn't until I got home and took a closer look at my photos that I realized the teeth and smile were sometimes different. Turns out there are multiple Fat Larry's and they are all just as big and lethal... yikes. 2) check out the turtle climbing the ladder to bask in the sun 3) there were often 10 or more turtles sidled up close to the alligator, peaceably coexisting... or at least so much as the 'gator has lead them to believe. I personally wouldn't trust Fat Larry.

The abundance of natural wildlife was amazing. There was a nest of eagles and the eaglet was all ruffled feathers and freshly new to the world...

Mama working hard to tend to the nest...

Dewees Island is truly a magical place... you have to see it for yourself. Your kids will love every minute. In Part II tomorrow, more on fishing and crabbing on Dewees. In the meantime, check out this great blog!

Monday, May 12, 2014

summer ready

Winston's ready for summer...are you? His favorite post-beach hang out is under the table in the shade at Dunleavy's Pub on Sullivan's Island. With dogs and kids, one thing we could really use is this great product...

A friend told me about this  Summer Shower  portable shower and it is too cool. For summer beaches without amenities and dusty hiking trails, this just might save my car this summer!

So long school...let the countdown to long beach days begin!

Friday, May 9, 2014

All I want for Mother's Day


I don't have a cleaner, lawn service, or any other kind of service and I do Ok without them. All I really want for Mother's Day is Alice from the Brady Bunch... just someone to stand in my kitchen and chivy me along as we fold laundry and chop veggies. Wasn't she great? Ever present and always the calm in every childhood storm. Alice would really just make all the difference...

Back to reality, here are a few great options for Mother's Day weekend in and around Charleston - Enjoy, Moms!

  • The CCSD Orchestras, made up of mostly middle school students and a few younger ones, will be performingSundayMay 11th, 4:00 p.m., at the RMM Theater at the School of the Arts.  The CCSD Prep (strings), Intermezzo (strings) and Honors Orchestra (strings, winds, brass and percussion) will each be performing a few pieces.  The performance lasts an hour and is a great introduction for kids to string and band instruments. 

  • Mom's Day Run and Family Fun Day- Saturday May 10th at 8:30am. Hosted on Daniel Island by Postpartum Support Charleston - see details here

  • Family Movie Night at Odessey Board Shop in Mt. Pleasant tonight!Grand Opening

  • Treat Mom to a ticket to Spoleto! I chose this play as a Mother's Day gift for my Mum...what will you choose? Search here 

  • Go picken' at Black River Berries in Salters, SC. About an hour from Charleston and chock full of strawberries!
Have a beautiful Lowcountry weekend!


Friday, May 2, 2014


I took a personal day yesterday to soak in the art presented this year at ArtFields (to view the artwork, click here) where installation art can mimic real life images at neighboring Moore Farms Botanical Garden...

Moore Farms was a perfect spot to find a quiet place in the sun and reflect, pray, and think about my Dad. As we gather family together to carry my Dad to his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery, it's a time to step away and hit pause. This post and this beautiful day are dedicated to my Dad and all the men and women who selflessly serve our country. 

See you back here next Thursday. As always, thanks for reading. 

Moore Farms Botanical Garden

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Camp: Sheryl Stalnaker Studio art camps for kids


Ok folks, at last a camp I have tried and can fully endorse! Both myself and my children have taken art classes through local artist Sheryl Stalnaker at her Studio and they are excellent and worth every penny. Sheryl will prompt you to see the world in a new way and forever after you will find yourself sizing up a cloud or a sunset with fresh eyes. I think art classes are elementary for kids because a good series of classes teaches them to understand and appreciate art for the rest of their lives - for example, they will look at an oil painting and really get how the paint is applied. For me it was a game changer and has even changed the way I take a photo.

Artist Sheryl Stalnaker had this to say about the benefits of her classes...

" I offer summer camps for preschoolers through middle schoolers as well as private lessons for kids. I have found that kids really respond to being taught age appropriate art concepts, such as color theory, drawing, perspective, design, and even just how to be more observant of the world they see every day.  These daily art lessons are then incorporated into fun, guided projects using a variety of painting media (pastel, watercolor, acrylic, collage).  Kids love using the real art materials and painting at wooden easels that I supply, all kid-friendly, of course.  Classes are small (limited to 8 students), so I can provide lots of individualized instruction and assistance."

What would a class for your child be like at the Studio? Stalnaker describes this sample class...

"The students are going to paint an ocean scene.  I have the kids close their eyes and visualize that they are on a beach... What do the water and sky look like?  Are there clouds?  What shapes?  What are the waves doing? Is it a windy day or calm? Then they open their eyes and I give a short lesson about perspective, explaining what happens to colors in the distance and how the waves appear bigger in the foreground, etc.  Then the real fun begins.  Every student has their own easel and canvas, brushes and a plate full of acrylic paints.  I go around the room and individually help them with color mixing and drawing...  Hands get messy, maybe some stray paint on their clothes, and their masterpieces are complete!"

These classes are popular and fill up fast so be sure to check out all the session options!
click here to go directly to Sheryl Stalnaker's web page regarding summer camps. Take a few moments to linger on the site to view Sheryl's work and be sure to check out her most recent paintings coming soon to Spoleto in Marion Square downtown.