Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pet Helpers: Ruth and AJ

"Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell."
-Emily Dickinson
    "AJ" - unchained and nursed back to health at Pet Helpers

True Confession: We've been avoiding setting foot inside Pet Helpers for many years. We are a dog loving family and we just can't take the thought of all those sweet animals needing love and shelter. My fear has always been we would not be able to leave the building without some animals in tow. I had a preconceived notion that the place would be tough, unclean, and desperately sad. I was wrong on all accounts.

Recently, my son, who is perhaps the world's biggest dog lover, raised some funds for Pet Helpers and we steeled ourselves to actually deliver the zip lock baggy crammed full with cash. What we found was such a surprise... the facility is immaculate, the animals are pampered and loved by an incredibly warm and devoted staff, and this no-kill center has an outstanding track record for placing animals in forever homes as well as finding foster families (there are hundreds of active foster families, but they always need more!).

       "Ruth" -  We can't stop thinking about this lovely dog's haunting eyes.

However, I will say that Ruth and AJ stopped us in our tracks. Ruth (pictured here) and her son AJ were chained in a yard and malnourished. Their eyes pierce your heart and you can only imagine what they've been through. How we wish we could take them both! They are available for adoption and the goal is to keep this strongly bonded pair together. They are incredibly calm and sweet and just need the love of a good family home.

             Charleston's other Rainbow Row provides shelter for cats in need of a good home.
Interested in helping? We were so impressed with one of Pet Helpers initiatives called Unchain Charleston which seeks to unshackle chained animals by building fenced yards. Volunteers are welcome to help build these fences, giving much needed time rather than a cash donation. Did you know it takes roughly $20 a day per animal to provide food, care, and shelter for Pet Helpers rescued animals? Consider raising funds to help nurture these animals and in turn provide your child with a sense of pride through helping their community.        
Pet Helpers   
 1447 Folly Rd, Charleston, SC 29412
Click here for more information

*Pet Helpers is a recipient of funds from this year's Cooper River Bridge Run!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Up and Coming: The 2015 Cooper River Bridge Run

The Cooper River Bridge Run 10k is this Saturday! Are y'all ready, or is it just not your thing? I'll admit that running with 40,000 people is a bit daunting, but if you live here in Charleston, you just have to try this event. You will never look at your bridge commute the same way again. If you're participating, don't forget to study the mile markings on this route map to familiarize yourself with this time honored course. Here's another link for frequently asked questions. Did you know that 15 Local Charities benefit from this run every year? From the children at MUSC Childrens Hospital to rescued animals at Pet Helpers, the bridge run passes on funds to make a huge difference in our community.

And don't forget to take in the view from the top and pause to enjoy the moment. But don't get too comfortable...

Good luck runners! Make it a great run!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Delicious Pickled Palate

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

Have you spotted these bright red umbrellas tucked in a grassy island off Coleman Blvd? You have to stop for lunch. It's so delicious! After my gal pal Jessica introduced me to this yummy local hot spot (that's her adorable Stella pictured below), I had to go back a few times just to be sure I could recommend it... to taste test...and taste again! Here are some favorite picks from PMK mamas:

  • The soups - you can't go wrong with any of them
  • The salads - so fresh
  • The caprese sandwhich
  • The vegan sandwhich
  • The blackberry jasmine iced tea

Eating with kids? Don't miss the singing veggies on your way in...

The Pickled Palate

411 Hibben St, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 388-7813
*Look for the red umbrellas!

For Moms and Dads: Happy Hour Wine Tasting the second Thursday of each month from
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

This post compiled to I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl - Nina Simone

Monday, March 23, 2015

Make It Monday: Pink Peppermint Playdough

I tasked some little friends of mine with making pink Playdough from scratch while thinking of an alliteration and this is what they came up with: Perfectly Powerful Pink Peppermint Playdough Purposefully Played With!

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 Tbls cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbls oil
  • Pink food coloring
  • Peppermint oil

A great recipe for hours of quiet, contented, parallel play. Keep your Playdough in a zip lock bag in the fridge to keep it fresh and soft for months. See this PMK post for further instruction.

This post compiled to Don't Let Me Get Me - Pink. Although, in truth, they were actually singing the Frozen song at the top of their lungs!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Welcome Spring: blossom haiku

         Image source                           

cherry blossoms fallen-
people's hearts
serene again

- Koyu-Ni

We turned over a new leaf yesterday and welcomed Spring in the Lowcountry. It swept over us with the customary blanket of pollen, dusting every car and leaving swirling pools of lime green residue after the rains. Eyes swell as the allergy attacks begin... but isn't it all a beautiful sight?

Every year I yearn to see the magnificent cherry blossoms bloom in Washington DC; a childhood memory from long ago with my Dad and I just want to catch it again. Herein lies the problem: DC is a long way away to try to catch an unpredictable, fleeting moment of Spring. My Dad rests there now on a green, grassy hill in Arlington National Cemetery facing the Pentagon. Maybe the pull of the blossoms is twofold.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Charleston Currents March 2015 Feature

A favorite Lowcountry event - The Alhambra Hall Easter Egg Hunt  
If you have little ones, put all your eggs in one basket and head over to Alhambra Hall this morning! (photo by R Woods)

Charleston Currents

Site offers monthly calendar for kids

Pluff Mud Kids enjoy last week’s Chase The Leprechaun event benefiting Pattison’s Academy at Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park.
Did you happen to see Pluff Mud Kid’s printable monthly calendar for March?
Each month we aim to highlight a few of our favorite events for children in the Lowcountry. You can print the calendar, add some of your own ideas, and stick it on the refrigerator to remind you to plan your weekends and day trips ahead of time.
Look for our calendar each month and talk to your kids about choosing one or two events that sound appealing. Here are a few extra up-and-coming events:
  • Click here for downloadable PDF
Extra, Extra! Consider these events too:
  • The Big Easter Egg Hunt offered by Mount Pleasant Recreation Department at Alhambra Hall this Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at 11 a.m. for children ages 6 and under. This is a free event.
  • Sol Surfers camps are back again soon at Folly Beach for children learning to surf. Study the schedule in this link to learn more and plan your calendar.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Make it Monday: 3.1415 (green egg pie)

Pi day was Saturday. I know some kids who have been memorizing 175 to 200 numbers of Pi to celebrate the day! Could you do it?  I think we'll stick to baking pie around here, so here's a twist on our favorite apple pie... the Big Green Egg apple pie calzone!                                   

I have to recommend the green egg grill wholeheartedly... it's like a new religion around here. Every Sunday my husband dives into a new idea on the grill and the apple pie calzone was a big hit.

This post compiled to NPR tiny desk concert - St. Paul And The Broken Bones

Friday, March 13, 2015

beg, borrow, and steal

This week was all about beg, borrow, and stealing life's hottest commodity... time. As a family, we have never, ever before been so busy and it was hard to borrow extra time from anywhere. The up side was we met some interesting people doing incredible work in our city, found great, fresh food, and a few new local businesses we love. It's a wrap on these new stories for the weeks to come:

Questions answered...Who knew there were incredible classrooms inside the USS Yorktown?

We'll meet Michael Bronco, master tinkerer and founder of Huck Finn School.

We'll take a look at Rainbow Row - the other Rainbow Row - the one that provides shelter for local area unwanted pets at Pet Helpers.

We'll feature The Pickled Palette - insanely good local food. 

And a recipe celebrating Pi Day and the big green egg.

Tune in starting Monday for these ideas plus where to ski with kids, a hot pick for Spring Break, something for St. Patrick's Day, and more!

This post compiled to Time - Billy Porter

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

when your memory card is full

At some point in life, the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.
- Toni Morrison, quoted in O magazine

There are 16 stories in my computer waiting to be posted, but I had to hit the pause button yesterday. I've been taking a photography class with high hopes to provide you with better quality imagery and yesterday I simply reached my fill. Do you ever feel like your mind's memory card is filled to capacity with every possible image you could ever hope to see? 

Coupled with this overwhelming feeling of overstimulated fatigue, I spied a crisp, clear picture on social media posted by a photographer with many thousands of followers. It depicted a local home with a bright and cheerful red door; complete with the owners house number and a pinpointed location tag. The home is on one of my favorite running routes - I know it well and vaguely know the owner. It felt like a huge violation to know this photo was made public. However quaint and iconic, would you want your private home made public by a complete camera-happy stranger? 

And then this on the car radio...

"The Smithsonian and The Palace of Versailles have officially banned selfie sticks due to fear of damage of important works of art." - BBC America

Have we seen enough flowers, sunsets, doors, fashion photos of people's feet, and perfectly posed cups of coffee to last a lifetime? It gives me pause to reflect. And then, sitting here at my computer with my camera at hand, I saw this, just for a fleeting moment, and punched reload on my memory card...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Make It Monday: Busy Mom's Raan of Lamb

image source:

Ever wonder what you did with all your time before you had kids? Remember when you could eat whatever, whenever you wanted? Those days are over, baby... it's all about the path of least resistance nowadays. 

Here's a simple, easy recipe you can prepare a day ahead, marinate for 24 hours, and know that it's ready and waiting on a busy school night (for example, Mondays are super busy around here with tennis after school followed by Boy Scouts in the evening, so I make this on a quiet Sunday afternoon and marinate it for the next evening):

Raan of Lamb


  • 3 - 4 lamb shoulder chops (the very best are from Whole Foods - buy Australian or New Zealand lamb)
  • 2 tbsp mild Curry Powder
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt 

Wash and dry the lamb chops. Pierce the lamb chops all over with a knife (to allow the marinade to soak in). Put all the remaining ingredients in a food chopper or processor to create your marinade. Pour the marinade over the lamb chops and coat well. Place the lamb in a glass, nonreactive baking dish and marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the lamb from the fridge one hour before cooking (to reach room temperature). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the lamb chops on a roasting tray and cover lightly with foil. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours until brown, basting with juices from tray midway through. Serve with roast veggies and onion, mashed or baked potato, or quick Uncle Ben's basmati rice (cooks in 10 minutes).

 This is a great recipe to start with if you've ever wanted to delve into Indian cooking - there are no complex spices to buy here... you probably already have these spices in your pantry. Years ago, in my first year of marriage, my husband and I lived in a remote part of Australia called Darwin. My husband worked long hours and I had those hours to fill, so I turned to cooking as a creative outlet. I didn't know how to cook at all - nothing. The tiny local library had two cookbooks and I grabbed both of them; oddly, one was Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook which featured fried green tomatoes (a prophetic nod to eventually settling in Charleston, SC) and a killer bourbon pecan pie recipe, and the other was Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking. Jaffrey's book is still my bible on Indian cooking and I highly recommend it if you want to press into more complex Indian flavors.

Throw this marinated lamb into the oven on a busy night and you're golden!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Pluff Mud Kids people: Ronel Gilich

"I'm calling off the search for myself."
- my Uncle Austin, who is hilarious.

Who are you? What makes you tick? My Mum and I recently had a discussion about how labels cast a certain light on people and cause us to put them in a permanent box... you are a teacher, you are a housewife (does that term still exist?), you are a runner, etc. Even if you don't see yourself as an athlete, does the fact that you run everyday make you a runner? What are the things that you do every day that make you who and what you are? What could you add into your daily life in 2015 to make a change in the way you label yourself by the end of the year?

Meet Charleston local Ronel Gilich. She's not searching for herself, but rather enjoying the process of evolving a bit more every year. Ronel isn't a been here, she's a come here, hailing from South Africa. Ronel is a wife, mother of two, travel lover, photographer, surfer, Pilates enthusiast (she used to run her own studio in Seattle), physical therapist, and so much more. One of the areas she's expanding upon this year is her love of photography, for which she obviously has a gift.

 Today I'm choosing to highlight just that one piece of Ronel as she shares some of her work with us here.  Ronel reflects that she has always enjoyed looking at life through a lens - even as a young girl, before snapping pictures of everything we see was en vogue.  On recent trips back to her beloved homeland she has captured some striking images that have been featured in Africa Geographic. Herewith, a few examples of what makes Ronel who and what she is...

Just looking at these images makes me feel Ronel's love for South Africa and I feel that I know her a little bit better, don't you agree? Thank you for sharing these, Ronel! Congratulations on this work and keep digging in to this art form - we want to see more.

"Life isn't about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself."
- George Bernard Shaw

Who will you become in 2015?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

more up and coming

A few more picks your kids will love this month:

This post compiled to Philosophy - Ben Folds and his big piano sound

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When we were very young

“When we treat children's play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that's to be found in the creative spirit. It's the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”

                                                                      -Fred Rogers

I just happened to realize this week that my twin boys now wear the same shoe size as me. It's a staggering, bittersweet milestone. It's also a pretty good indication that they have truly outgrown the annual teddy bear picnic, but for many years it was a favorite event for us. If you have little ones, grab your favorite teddy bears and head downtown to this event that celebrates imaginative play!  


And now a word about this event from Charleston Parks Conservancy...

For the sixth year, teddy bears and tots will invade Hampton Park for the annual Teddy Bear Picnic hosted by the Charleston Parks Conservancy. The event is 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 8 in Hampton Park. Admission and all activities are free.

John Cusatis will provide entertainment along with Homespun Hoops, Peace Love Hip Hop, and Becky’s Box of Puppets. A Teddy Care Station will be available for “injured” bears needing treatment and well bear checkups. Other activities include face painting, seed planting, cookie decorating, crafts and hula hooping. The afternoon wraps up with a teddy bear parade.

Families are invited to bring a picnic lunch, blankets and chairs to enjoy an afternoon in the park. Food will be available for purchase from Dish & Design and King of Pops.

“The mission of the Conservancy is connecting people to their parks,” said Harry Lesesne, executive director of the Conservancy. “We include teddy bears too. Bringing families to parks is sure to create lasting memories that develop the bond between people and their parks.”

Conservancy volunteers lead and put on this popular annual event. Co-chairs for this year are Fran Hummel and Stephanie Coffin. More than 50 volunteers and almost 500 hours will support the effort.

The rain date for the event is Sunday, March 15; information will be available on Facebook/Twitter in the case of inclement weather. For more information, visit