Lowcountry Eclipse Plans

Frances:
There are many reasons that I love calling the Lowcountry my home. Among my top reasons are the outdoor and nature options that are provided to us by living on the coast. As the Solar eclipse approaches I am again thankful that I am lucky to live in an area that will reach 100% totality of the eclipse. I AM PUMPED! I have always been inspired and humbled by nature and have obviously never seen an eclipse in person. And buzz kill; I'll be at work while it's happening!

If you are lucky enough to have the day off work, are staying at home because the kids are out of school or are treating yourself to this special event, there's not a shortage of things to do. With over 100 events scheduled in the Charleston area there is something for everyone to enjoy.

“Things I Would Rather Be Doing Than Going to Work, So You Should Do Them”

For my Yoga friends, Charleston County Parks is offering a Sun Shadow Yoga class at the Mount Pleasant pier from 1:30-2:30pm. This class is for ages 12 and up and costs $5 in advance or $8 day of event. 

If you want to view it from the beach, the City of Isle of Palms will host an eclipse viewing event on Front Beach. Leading up to the eclipse, there will be music by DJ NattyHeavy on the beach behind the Windjammer. Plane Jane will take the stage following the eclipse to celebrate this incredibly rare event. Children's entertainment will be available in the Isle of Palms County Park, and eclipse information will be provided throughout the event. The event will be from 11:30am – 4:30pm.

Want to know how wildlife are going to react to the eclipse? Caw Caw Interpretative Center will be hosting an Eclipse Extravaganza from 1:30-3:30pm where you will enjoy a guided tour by a naturalist. 

For those of you in North Charleston, the new venue The Bend will be hosting a free, family friendly and educational event from 12-4pm. Look to the Sky will feature live music, STEM based activities, a Boeing trebuchet, robotics demonstrations and more.

Last, but not least, on my list of events I would rather go to than be at work, The Charleston RiverDogs will have an Eclipse Home game at Joe Riley Stadium. Gates will open at 1pm and first pitch will be at 4:05pm. During the eclipse there will be special guests from NASA there to teach you about the eclipse as it happens!

Yes, I am secretly hoping to have a Heroes moment and gain a super cool super power after this event.

And now for Emily and Angela's Plans:

Emily:
Originally, we planned to walk outside at the time of the eclipse and enjoy it from our front yard, since it's during our little one's nap time, but then we heard about the Total Solar Eclipse Barn Jam in Awendaw. Parking is open at 10am, with music starting at noon. We've got our glasses ready (thanks, Brownyard Law Firm!) and are ready to shake it down to some tunes!

Angela:
The eclipse has been the talk in our house for some time now. Out-of-town relatives started requesting to stay in our guest room six months ago!  Most of our extended family will be coming into town for the main event and I'm excited to share this once in a lifetime experience with our nearest and dearest. We joked about searching for Al Roker, who will be in town, or if we didn't have a baby, I would have insisted that we go kayaking with Coastal Expeditions (word on the street was that all of the spots were filled within 24 hours of reservations opening last December). It's hard to decide what to do with all of the options, but I think that we will stick close to home in Park Circle and go to The Bend. Out of excitement, I've purchased the special edition Total Eclipse of the Sun stamps from the post office which use thermochromic ink that reacts to the heat of your touch (Emily bought them, too!). Maybe I'll give one to Frances to play with at work (we love you Franny).

A few tips that we received from the Mount Pleasant Police Department and wanted to pass along:

  • Expect heavy traffic beginning the weekend before the eclipse
  • Have your cars filled with gas and have groceries stocked before the weekend, the influx of visitors may put a strain on supplies
  • Sunglasses will not protect your eyes! Only use certified eclipse viewing glasses
  • The pedestrian walkway on the Ravenel Bridge will be closed from noon until 4pm and will not be available as a viewing site
  • Under no circumstances should you stop your vehicle on any roadway or bridge during the eclipse
  • Expect cellular communication towers to become overloaded, have a plan in place to communicate with family and friends beforehand

We hope that you all find somewhere to view this amazing celestial event. Stay safe out there and wear your eclipse glasses. You can find them almost anywhere in the city right now, but they can also be purchased for $1 at all of the Visitor's Centers. For more information and a complete list of events visit the Charleston CVB’s eclipse website.

 

A Love Letter from Avery Bowman

Emily:

This past week, my husband and I got a good look into our future by housing my cousin's 9 year old son, Avery. His free time was spent schooling us at SkeeBall, teaching our 9 month old to 'RAWR', walking our dog, reading books from the library, and catching a foul ball at the RiverDogs game. His visit was timed to attend Coastal Expeditions' Young Naturalist Summer Camp. Like any good auntie (Familial Relations 101, anyone?) would do, I had him journal about his daily experiences to save and share with his family back in Tennessee. And as you can see below, to share with Lowcountry Love Letters.

FullSizeRender.jpg

First, about the camp:
"Each day at Coastal Expeditions brings a new adventure and includes activities like pulling a seining net along the shores of a barrier island, kayaking alongside a manatee in Shem Creek or exploring a bird rookery in the Charleston Harbor.  Your young naturalist will experience the Lowcountry in a way that will foster a life-long love for this unique environment.

Our camps foster kayak skills, leadership, team building, self esteem, and environmental appreciation. Making learning fun while participating in interactive activities is our goal for your young naturalist."

Read More>

And now, from Avery:

MONDAY
First day of camp means meeting new friends. Kayaked for the first time ever! Bonus- it was with dolphins. Kind of wondering if I'm going to see them every day. We went on an adventure walk at the Shem Creek Pier and saw a million crabs.
Quote of the Day (QOTD): "Do the cicadas here have microphones?"

TUESDAY
First time paddle boarding. We went twice and it was so awesome. I sat most of the time. It's really difficult to stand up! Dolphins were there to say 'hi'. Pretty sure a jellyfish got me. Not my first time with that experience. Went swimming off of the dock.

WEDNESDAY
Another day, another dolphin. More kayaking today. I'm learning more about the rudder and which direction the paddle will send me. Hint: It's the opposite direction you're moving it.

THURSDAY
Day trip to Bulls Island! The waves were awesome. We also got to visit a wolf sanctuary. The boat was neat, but we didn't see any dolphins.

FRIDAY
Paddle boarding is becoming my favorite, but man do my arms hurt. We went to Fort Moultrie today. Dolphins were back. 4 days out of 5 isn't bad.

FAVORITES
Ocean Waves on Bulls Island
Fort Moultrie

LEAST FAVORITES
Water shoe blisters
Applying sunscreen

FAVORITE ONE LINER
"Do the cicadas here have microphones?"

Daily Journaling

Daily Journaling

Guess who's already asking to come back next summer? We'll gladly take you, Avery.

What should we check out next year when he's here? 

 

Avery & Grant at the Mt. Pleasant Library

Avery & Grant at the Mt. Pleasant Library

Decorate Local

Angela:

You upsized your living space, now what? We recently moved from a 1,500 square foot cottage to a 2,300 square foot multi-story box. Things that worked beautifully in my cottage, no longer work so well in our new space. I found myself on the hunt for new(ish) everything, from the curtains to the soap dishes. Since starting this blog over two years ago, I more than ever, appreciate locally made goods and supporting locally owned businesses. I beam with pride when getting a compliment on a piece that I may have picked up from a local artist at a craft market. As we begin to live in our new space, I'm slowly filling it with pieces that I adore. Below are just a few of the amazing local items that I have found recently:

This is the very first thing that I bought for our new house. It's an adorable handmade quilted pineapple throw pillow by the talented Stitchy Things Co. Follow on Instagram @stitchythingsco

Emily introduced me to the new home furniture and décor shop Hausful. Beware, walking into this place, you will want it all!  I have my eye on a gorgeous sofa and toddler bed for little Ruby. Follow on Instagram for all of the latest sale updates @hausful

I think that deep-down, one of the reasons I fell in love with our new boxy house is because of all the blank walls. There is so much room to hang amazing art. Charleston Artist Collective made me want their pieces from the very first time I came across their Instagram @charlestonartistcollective. Truly amazing local talent can be found here. I can't wait to purchase and hang my first piece!

Our new front porch could use some pizzaz to make it more welcoming to family and friends. I happened upon the Old Charleston Trading Company one hot Friday afternoon and found a gorgeous, half-sized joggling board. I knew at once that it had to be mine! They also have beautiful furniture and décor. It can be a little tricky to find, and they're only open Friday thru Sunday. Check their Facebook page for the latest updates. Who needs a rocking horse, when you can have a rocking row boat? Follow on Instagram @oldcharlestontradingcomany

I have no doubt that once my husband and I can decide on a wood finish, we will be purchasing a new dining room suite from Charleston Amish Furniture. If you haven't visited this store yet, you're missing out. The customer service is phenomenal, the attention to detail is spot on, and the products are superior. Just know that each dining piece is made to order, so it may take a while for your perfect piece to arrive, but I'm hoping that it will be well worth the wait!  Dinner party at our house anyone? (Side note: we also purchased a Folly Beach inspired quilt at Charleston Amish Furniture for our master bedroom. It is Gorgeous!)

Daydreaming of this beautiful Dining Suite.

Daydreaming of this beautiful Dining Suite.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Mount Pleasant Mall is hands-down one of my favorite shopping spots. I don't get to go as often as I would like because I am now accompanied everywhere by a very busy one-year-old, but when I do get the occasional moment to myself, I head on over. While not everything is locally made, each booth is individually rented. Follow on Instagram @mtpleasantmall

I surprised myself last month by taking an interest in Horn and Heel at the American Made Market held outside Edmond's Oast. Surprised because, well, the kitchen is my least favorite room and my husband's domain, but these handmade knives commanded my attention. They were stunning pieces of culinary art. I slipped their card into my wallet for safe-keeping for when the holidays come around. No doubt we will own a set of these beauties in the very near future. Follow on Instagram @hornandheel

Tell us where you like to shop for local goods. I still have about 2,000 square feet to decorate!

A Love Letter from Abbie Pribble

Abbie:

Let me paint a picture for you:

It’s the summer after my freshman year of college at ECU.  My crazy 19 year old self batted my eyes at daddy so I could use all of his airline miles to visit the best big brother ever in his new city for the 4th of July.  Michael has always taken care of me and always thought I was the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t blame him… I’m a pretty cool little sister—just kidding. Anyway, it’s safe to say we are pretty darn close. We were excited to get to spend time together as siblings AND friends, just the two of us. 

So, my dad had to give me step-by-step directions on how to fly on my own. I followed them to a T, changed planes, and finally arrived at CHS! Do you ever have those random moments that you look back on and you can remember every detail? That’s how I feel about this trip. As we drove away from North Charleston and towards Mount Pleasant, I couldn’t help but point out the awful smell. Michael replied, “Oh yeah… I farted. Just kidding…that’s the marsh. It always smells like that. You’ll get used to it.” Great… this sounds wonderful. “But if you look that way, you can see the bridge.” Super cheesy, I know, but it was a good moment.

Abbie and her brother Michael

Abbie and her brother Michael

We spent the week doing touristy Charleston things. We took a carriage ride through downtown. We took a ferry ride out to Ft. Sumter. We went to a Charleston Riverdogs game. We went to the beach on Sullivan’s Island. We took lawn chairs out one night and just sat on the Battery. We bought a book, waited until dark, and did a self-guided ghost tour of the city. I had so much fun exploring the city and just being friends with my brother.  

Then it came time to leave… I was dreading this. I just had one of the best and most memorable weeks of my life and now I was going back home. Not ideal. He hugged me goodbye and I started crying. I couldn’t let go. I fell in love with the smells (except for the marsh), the trees, the food, the activities, the lifestyle, and charm of this town. I decided right then and there that I would get to call Charleston home one day, too. 

As I was preparing this letter, I realized that we didn’t take any pictures of us that week for our mother. I’m sure that made her mad. But since that trip, I have made countless visits and spent some more memorable days with my brother and his growing group of friends and I have made sure to take a picture every time. Many more July 4ths, birthdays, Spring Breaks, holidays, and even a wedding have been great excuses to go back to my favorite city. 

Abbie with her dog-niece Dori

Abbie with her dog-niece Dori

Fast forward 6 years:

Michael is married to beautiful Janeen, they have two dogs and the most thought-out, perfect garden you could dream of. I have been teaching kindergarten in northern Virginia for 3 years and I’m ready to make a change. I finally decided that it’s time. I’m moving in a week and a half. It’s really happening. Closing on a condo today (thanks Emily!) and nailed down a job at Memminger Elementary teaching 1st grade.  Pieces are falling into place for my new life that I’ve wanted for so long. This is about my love for the South and my love for this city, but mostly about my love for my family. I can’t wait to see how this new life plays out. 

Abbie, Janeen. and Michael

Abbie, Janeen. and Michael

Family Friendly Weekend Outdoors

Well, hello, rain and Monday! These past couple of weekends, we have found ourselves outside without even meaning to be. In the Lowcountry, it doesn't take much effort to find something with a breeze, bench, and people watching. Whether you're from here or visiting, we think the activities below will keep you outdoors and entertained:

SATURDAY

10:00am
Fit Mommy Charleston
This newly discovered group meets during the week and weekends at different parks and locales around the Lowcountry. What a great way to explore! Last weekend's class in Park Circle featured ultimate frisbee followed by circuit training for mom, dad and child. $10/ class or unlimited options available.

11:30am
Marion Square Farmer's Market
This spot is especially packed with entertainment during Spoleto, but takes place every Saturday with the basics; fresh veggies, local artisans, and food. Make it this coming Saturday before Spoleto closes up shop and you'll see dozens of artists, as well. We're fans of bringing a quilt and putting it under a tree for people watching.

1:00pm
Walk down King Street to The Battery
We're sending you on a pretty straight path here, but we also encourage you to veer off onto one of the side streets to find additional charm in the homes and streets of downtown. Try taking a turn down Tradd or Queen street. Pretty stroller friendly. The cobblestone streets rock those babies straight to sleep.

2:30pm
American Made Market (and many more markets)
Charleston has no shortage of artisan markets, but this one is held at one of our favorite dining spots (that's still serving Emily's husband's beet beer, Fan Fiction, on tap!). Follow Thrifters & Drifters, Lowcountry Local First, and US to hear all about them as dates/ times/ locations are released. 

4:00pm
Deck Music at The PourHouse
Kids can let their dance moves loose while parents grab a snack and cold beverage. Check their schedule for all upcoming music, but there's never been a time that we've been here and there hasn't been music playing somewhere.

@chspourhouse

7:00pm
Dinner at Rita's/ Beach Walk
Try to grab an outdoor table to enjoy the beachy breeze. Their signature nachos are a must. Chances are, they'll have music playing, too. When you're ready to walk off those nachos, head on down to Folly, just a couple of blocks away.

SUNDAY

10:00am
Bendy Brewski Yoga at Holy City Brewing
Our one non-kid friendly option of the weekend, but doesn't everyone need a small break? Yoga and beer. You don't need to say much more.

@bendybrewskiyoga

12:00pm
Celadon Flea
More food and local vendors, the last Sunday of every month. The furniture warehouse is open to the public on these days. It's a fun meet up for friends, with great parking. 

@celadonhome

2:00pm
Riverfront Park N. Charleston
Head just around the corner to enjoy art in the park, spectacular views of the Cooper River, and occasional events.

6:00pm
Dinner Al Fresco
Local or not, use some of those veggies and treats you've picked up along the way this weekend to make an outdoor picnic for you and your family on your patio, screened in porch, or yard. Enjoy the silence... we mean, cicadas. 

What's your favorite way to get outside in the Lowcountry? It's not a weekend activity, but Folly Beach Movie Nights are back and they are a kid favorite!
 

 

When Buying and Selling Become Personal

Angela:

Ever wonder what happens when a Real Estate Agent decides to sell their personal home? The art of buying and selling residential real estate is a very personal business by nature, but when my husband and I decided to list our darling Riverland Terrace cottage, the emotions ran high. Luckily my husband is a 'go-with-the-flow' kind of guy and allowed me complete control over all of the details that I, as a Realtor, understood to be crucial to getting top dollar for our little piece of paradise in the Lowcountry. Below are a few tips to keep in mind to get top dollar when listing your home.

 Allow a healthy budget for prepping your home for the market:

I blame HGTV for the attitude of today's consumer; everyone expects to walk into an immaculately staged house. For us (read: family with a toddler), this meant out with the old and in with the new. I spent $1,000 on new (smaller, or as described by my husband, "museum quality") furniture, rugs, lighting, house plants, and even rented artwork (courtesy of the lovely Julia Deckman), in order to set our stage. We rented a storage unit and packed away most of our personal photos, books, tv/gaming consoles, and most of the baby toys. We rented boxes from EcoPax, making storing super easy! I also took the opportunity to clean out and organize all of our closets (remember, people look in every corner when you are showing your home).

PRO TIP: House plants make a space seem alive and welcoming. Unfortunately, house plants rarely survive living with me, so I shopped exclusively from the Lowe's house plant clearance shelves. I was able to pick up around $200 in house plants for $40 the day before we listed and by some miracle, they are all still alive.

Hire professionals:

Cutting corners on items such as landscaping, photography, pressure washing, etc., can really cut into potential profit. Curb appeal is king in this business!  We hired a professional landscaper (Coastal Green) to ensure that our yard was in tip top shape.  We had the house professionally pressure washed (by Under Pressure). Most importantly, we chose a very talented photographer. I would say one of the things that I never 'cheap out' on is photography. Pictures are ultimately what will capture the attention of potential buyers and get them through the door. Donnie Whitaker Photography did an amazing job!

PRO TIP: Adding an American Flag to the front of your home can really make it pop with curb appeal in photographs.

@donniewhitaker

Keep your house and yard neat and tidy:

This seems like common sense, but you wouldn't believe how many homes we have shown where the buyers were completely turned off by clutter, dirty dishes, unmade beds, and the list goes on. You are ultimately trying to allow the buyer to imagine themselves living there, which is hard to do if the house is dirty. This particular tip was especially challenging for our family with a one-year old running around. Sticky hands and crushed goldfish crackers seem to be the norm.  Since I knew that keeping the house super clean and tidy would be challenging, it was important to me that showings were limited and that our house wasn't sitting on the market for months on end. This is where listening to your Real Estate Agent, especially in regards to pricing, becomes key.

PRO TIP: I hired a professional house cleaner to do a deep cleaning prior to picture day and also to come weekly for maintenance cleanings while the house was being shown. Also, a bowl of fresh lemons sitting out can mask daily kitchen odors (I learned that tip from my Granny!).

MOST IMPORTANTLY Listen to your Real Estate Agent!

We decided to enlist the help of Emily for the sale of our home. Legally, I could have listed my personal home on my own, but emotionally, I knew that I needed a buffer. This was one of the best decisions that we could have made. By having Emily list the house, I was able to focus on the emotions that I was struggling with about leaving our cute home and neighborhood. She manned an open house and fielded questions that I would have probably taken too personally. She buffered me from criticism that was not constructive and headed up a mass marketing campaign so that I could focus on getting the dirty dishes out of the sink and watering those doomed house plants.

PRO TIP: Don't be afraid to speak openly with your Real Estate Agent about anything that may be burdening you. Their job to is represent your best interests!  Trust me, they will want to know if you are feeling uncomfortable or unsure throughout any part of the process. A "Big Thank You" to Emily for taking my crazy calls at all hours of the day/night!

Stay Calm and Trust the Process:

Three days after officially listing our house, we had multiple offers, and five weeks later, we closed. Those five weeks were a roller coaster of emotions, but by preparing properly, hiring professionals, and trusting in the guidance of a great Real Estate Agent, we have successfully moved onto our next chapter...life in Park Circle!

The wicke's new home! welcome to Park Circle!

The wicke's new home! welcome to Park Circle!

A Love Letter from Julia Deckman

Julia:

I wasn’t born in the Lowcountry, but I found my home here in Charleston. When I reflect on the past 5 years, I realize I owe so much to this amazing city. Charleston is the place where my soul feels at peace and my mind is awakened.

Prior to my time here in Charleston, I had spent my life with my head down and blinders on. I was going through the motions of someone I thought I was “supposed” to be, checking “accomplishments” off my to-do list:

  • Be a good student
  • Don’t cause trouble
  • Go to college and graduate with honors
  • Move back home to be close to family
  • Find a “real job”
  • Bide my time until it’s time to start a family

Without realizing it, my life was passing by and I never took the time to get to know my true self and what I really wanted; I was unknowingly a stranger to myself. The older I got the more anxious and unsettled I felt, but I ignored my anxiety and my subconscious. I assumed all would be well when I was finished with my “to-do” list.

Then, five years ago, I moved to Charleston and I woke up in the middle of a life I didn’t recognize. It’s as if I was asleep for my entire adult life; the path I had been headed down had nothing to do with ME. But I found that the more time I spent in this beautiful city, the more alive and peaceful I felt. I found the courage to make some incredibly difficult decisions and make major changes. I finally started to be present and live on my terms. Charleston gently woke me up and offered the perfect environment to begin living my true life and to be true to myself.

I believe that Charleston is my perfect oasis. It has so much to offer, whether it be the beautiful architecture, the amazing food, the art and culture, or its rich history. Charleston is diverse enough to keep you on your toes, yet inviting enough to make you feel safe and comfortable. The sense of community here is powerful, and I am so happy to recognize faces almost everywhere I go.

Follow Julia on Instagram @byjdeckman

Charleston has also provided me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. After moving here, I quickly realized I would never be happy unless I made my passion a priority. So two years ago I started my art business, and this city has helped support me every step of the way. I scrapped my old “to-do” list and came up with another:

  • Start creating art again
  • Set up a professional business
  • Push myself out of my comfort zone and network
  • Collaborate with other local creatives
  • Become a resident artist at Redux Contemporary Art Center

I am excited to say I have accomplished all those original goals, but the list continues to grow. While I have so much I still want to achieve, I feel fulfilled, happy, and very fortunate. I don’t believe I could have made this life change or become the person I am today without the support of Charleston and its amazing community.

Thank you, Charleston, I will love you forever.

ps. to get a unique perspective on my professional journey, follow along with my blog byjdeckman.com/blog. I actually like to reflect on my initial posts whenever I'm feeling in a rut. It makes me realize how far I have truly come: early days post, year one reflection, year two reflection

As a note of Interest: Angela recently commissioned Julia to paint a portrait of her beloved Tater. We think that it turned out just perfect!

Bachelorette Party Lowcountry Style

Angela:

If you've ever been out in downtown Charleston past 9pm on a Friday or Saturday night, then you have most likely encountered a bachelorette party on the loose! Before becoming a local, my first trip to Charleston was for a destination bride-to-be party. Having been a bridesmaid well over a dozen times (what can I say, I was in a large sorority in college), I feel that I have planned and attended my fair share of these celebrations. Emily and I thought it would be fun to list out some of the more creative ideas for celebrating this momentous occasion in our lovely city.

Personal Yoga Instruction: We hired a yoga instructor from Serenity Tree Yoga to lead a sunrise session on the beach in front of the beach house that was rented. Pro tip: Do not attempt this activity after a hard night of partying (pretty sure we lost some ladies after the first up-dog).

Follow @serenitytreeyoga on Instagram:

Hire a Personal Chef: I have made this move multiple times and find that in the long run it is cheaper and time saving. Just think, no need to corral 15 women in and out of a busy restaurant or split the bill 15 ways! Charleston is such a great culinary goldmine that finding a personal chef to hire is easy, check out Yelp's top 10 list and find the best fit for your occasion.

Still not sold on the personal chef idea? Make reservations at the R Kitchen to get a similar experience!

Check out a Plantation Tour: The Lowcountry is surrounded by a number of beautiful plantations. It may be a bit off the beaten path, but an afternoon sipping tea at the Charleston Tea Plantation followed by vodka tasting at the neighboring Firefly Distillery is sure to please!

Follow @Charleston_tea on Instagram:

Shopping: One could not have a proper trip to Charleston without King Street Shopping! Plan your trip accordingly and come for the Second Sunday on King. Or if you feel like making the trip to Mount Pleasant, Gwynn's will not disappoint.

Follow @gwynnsofmtp on Instagram:

All Types of Bars: Rooftop Bars, Dance Club Bars, Bars with homemade pastry (poptarts from The Belmont), Artisanal Bars, and the list goes on. One idea, reserve a Private Room at the Cocktail Club, this place takes you back in time where you can share a punch bowl with the ladies and sip in style. Check out Eater Charleston for a list of all the hottest places.

Follow @cocktailclubchs on Instagram:

Feeling adventurous? Maybe a weekend Cruise to the Bahamas! Find a full list of cruises leaving from Charleston here.

Other Tips:

  • Know the dress code for the establishments you will be visiting. We once had to leave a lady behind because she wore flip flops where they were not allowed. Along the same lines, ladies, note that Charleston streets are cobblestone! We recommend that you rickshaw everywhere to save those precious ankles.
  • Know that some very nice restaurants turn into raging booty-shaking nightclubs after a certain hour in the night. One of my first client dinners ever was running long and our nice quiet table suddenly turned into a spring break video, yikes!
  • Hire professional transportation and reserve it in advance if you are not staying within walking distance. There are a number of fun ways to get around including SC Bar Car, The Pink Party Bus, or The Charleston Cool Bus just to name a few.
    Just for fun, here's a throw back to when Charleston had a little black cab company that would roll out the red carpet (and I had long hair):

For the Morning After: Consider hitting up the Bloody Mary Bar at 39 Rue-De-Jean brunch or if you're really suffering, we've heard good things about Renew IV Spa on King Street (no appointment necessary). If anyone tries Renew, let us know what you think!  Curious minds want to know...

A Love Letter from CeCe Mikell

CeCe:

Every Monday morning, I deliver an East Cooper Meals on Wheels hot lunch to thirteen people who have lived and have lived in Mt. Pleasant, SC longer than I have. That’s saying a lot since I’m a born and raised native of Mt. Pleasant for nearly 42 years.

Late last month, I stopped to talk for a while with one of the children/caregivers of a recipient, and in our conversation, he asked me what I think of how Mt. Pleasant has changed since we were kids who went to the same (old) Mamie P. Whitesides Elementary School on Rifle Range Road at Myrick Road, (old) Laing Middle School on Highway 17 N at Six Mile Road, and (old) Wando High School on Mathis Ferry Road.

For context, here’s a glimpse of the Mt. Pleasant I knew as a child and teenager:

  • The stoplight at Bowman Road and Highway 17 was the last stoplight before you got to Georgetown.
  • East Cooper Family Practice (now Roper St. Francis Physician Partners on Wingo Way) functioned as the emergency room because there was no hospital at all on our side of the bridge.
  • Boone Hall Farm was just another farm to drive by on the way from Mt. Pleasant to Georgetown or Myrtle Beach. 
  • Rifle Range Road was a simple 2-lane back road with no stoplights or even stop signs and was the local drag strip for daredevils on Friday and Saturday nights. The now traffic circle at Porchers (pronounced poor-shay) Bluff was all dirt and gravel and was better known as Dead Man’s Curve.

Do I miss the much smaller town that could boast these memories? Of course, I do – in the same way I miss nap time in kindergarten, recess in elementary school, and the days when my folks footed my clothing bill before school started. Just as I grew up, so did my small town, and in some amazing ways: 

  • The stoplight at Bowman has been replaced by a 4-lane flyover, reducing the number of stops during rush hour. That allows the nearly double the population to get home to kids, evening activities, churches, and beaches more quickly, enjoying more of life in a still-small town with ever more engaging life activities to choose.
  • Our side of the bridge has gone from zero hospitals to having three hospitals, with East Cooper Medical Center exclusively dedicated to our East Cooper/Mt. Pleasant community. Improved medical care means that we who live in Mt. Pleasant get to enjoy it more and longer.
  • Boone Hall Farm has grown into a huge, year-round local produce provider through community supported agriculture along with its farm stand and farm store. Its leading support from the community played a large role in the establishment and growth of the Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market located at Moultrie Middle School.
  • Rifle Range Road has opened up to new schools serving both existing and new neighborhoods, and our East Cooper Moultrie District #2 Schools are top in the Lowcountry and among the best in the state.

It's easy to complain about the increase in traffic and paved roads, the loss of wooded land, the number of people who simply weren’t here when the first Wal-mart (now Pivotal Fitness) was built for our small community. These are some of the reasons Mt. Pleasant has earned the nicknames “Mt. Plastic” and Mt. Perfect.” The thing is, that’s not their fault. 

It’s our responsibility – we natives and decades-long residents – to cherish and continually share the evolution of our East Cooper Mt. Pleasant community with those who choose now to make it their home. While new residents can’t share in an experienced history, we can all shape our wonderful still-small town together.

Bio:
CeCe Mikell is a 41-year-old native of Mt. Pleasant, SC. She is best known as a writer, teacher, singer, and home cook. After a successful career as a college professor in New York, CeCe returned to Mt. Pleasant to care for her family. Today she is a consultant with Armstrong Consulting, specializing in project management, business start-ups, and non-profit initiatives. Follow CeCe’s cooking, singing, and every day adventures on her blog SingingAboutCooking.com. 

*Photos courtesy @experiencemp

Fresh Local Loves

We hope you've noticed that a few things have changed on this site since we first started out; our listings and buyer clients (thanks, guys!!!), motherhood, hairstyles (bangs much?), and even more to come, as you'll see later this week on our Facebook page, but the one constant has been our LOVE for local around the Lowcountry.

Today, we'd like to get your feedback on freshening up our Local Loves section. We're updating our own (see below), but would also like to incorporate yours from your different go-to spots around town. This short questionnaire will take less than 5 minutes. Leave your name, if you'd like us to credit you as a source.

Share your Local Loves!

Angela's Local Loves:

Coffee- Muddy Waters Coffee Bar
They always get my order right even when I'm mumbling and half asleep.

Brunch- Baguette Magic
Try the French toast, you can thank me later.

Garden/ Home- Hyam's Garden Center
Serving Charleston since 1981, this local business keeps our yard in bloom. They recently helped me design a cute flower box under my kitchen window.

Library/ Bookstore- Free Little Library
I love stopping by my neighborhood's Free Little Library. (Click the link to find out if there is one in your neighborhood!) 

Mobile Office- In and Out Car Wash
It might sound odd, but I've gotten quite a bit of work completed while having my car detailed.

Boutique/ Clothing- Style Dwell
Style Dwell has perfect outfits for a night on the town or for a fun work look. Bonus: they have great small gift ideas!

Lunch- Cory's Grilled Cheese
This place is a hidden gem. In addition to an amazing grilled cheese, the burger is pretty delicious.

Grocery/ Farm fresh- Sunday Brunch Farmer's Market
Situated behind the Pour House, this market is where we like to shop for local fresh produce, eggs, meat, and pasta.

Park- James Island County Park
With miles of trails, a fantastic dog park, and an awesome playground for the kiddos, this one is hard to beat.

Emily's Local Loves:

Coffee- Collective Coffee
Beyond impressive selection of brews with a knowledgable staff.

Brunch- Edmund's Oast
Babka wasn't even a thing I knew about until I selected it from EO's menu. Every dish is creative and of premium quality.

Garden/ Home- Abide a While
We have big plans to take Grant here soon for his first (but not last experience) to get our flower boxes started.

Library/ Bookstore- Village/ Poe
The public library is my soft spot, so I'd list all 16 of them if I could, but I love the quaintness of the Village and Poes library. Cannot wait to take Grant to see the Easter Bunny at The Village Library next year. 

Mobile Office- Vintage Coffee Cafe
If I could go here every day, I would. Lots of outdoor seating, with a play area for children. It's like sitting in your backyard with endless fancy toast options.

Boutique/ Clothing- Two Cumberland
It just so happens that I don't buy clothes for myself very often anymore, but when I do need a quick option for a wedding or fun event, this store never disappoints. Bonuses: Their staff is incredibly nice and they have two locations (one downtown, one in Mt.P).

Lunch- Rutledge Cab Co.
While it's been around for a while, I recently discovered their $5 burger deal on Mondays from my friend that calls Charleston #vacationland. Truly.

Grocery/ Farm Fresh- Boone Hall/ Wishbone Heritage Farms
Convenience is a big factor here and with Boone Hall being across the street from our house, we never have a problem stopping by to pick up the veg we need for a meal. Now, for our meat and eggs, my husband schedules a weekly pick-up with Wishbone. Their bacon is one of a kind.

Park- Palmetto Islands
This spot has been a go-to since I moved to the Lowcountry. Great for dog walks, dog park, and now baby walks! We recently went with a large group of friends and explored on a gorgeous winter day. The views are spectacular.

Lowcountry Music Scene

Emily:

As some of you know, I grew up in a small town called Bristol, on the border of Virginia and Tennessee. Bristol is known for being the "Birthplace of Country Music" (no, Nashville doesn't get that title) and holds an amazing music festival that we attend every year, called Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion. Music has had a strong presence in my life since I was born. My mom was in a band called White Lightnin' in the 70s (bonus if you make it to the bottom) and worked for the community theatre in Bristol for over a decade. Most of my evenings as an adult in Bristol were spent at local spots listening to an array of artists and I served on the Board of Directors for The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance. The market there is so saturated with talent, it's unbelievable. 

When I moved to Charleston, I immediately fell in love with the beaches, weather, and lifestyle. The days here stay packed with RiverDogs baseball games, Charleston Wine + Food Festival, yoga, speakers at the College of Charleston and more. But sometimes, I found myself missing the tunes. Well, I have good news for you. After years of living here, I've compiled the most popular and my favorite spots to catch music around the Lowcountry and spoiler alert- there are a lot!

VENUES:

The Music Farm (Downtown)
A late night spot where I've personally seen everyone from Lauryn Hill to Dr. Dog (and will completely deny seeing Nick Carter). One of my favorite bands, Moon Taxi, is playing there on April 7, but Iate nights are different with a newborn, so y'all report back.

The Pour House (James Island)
Live music every night on the Deck Stage and traveling artists on the Main Stage. Free admission and family friendly on the Deck Stage, early, most evenings. I vote this spot most likely to host an artist who has also played my hometown music festival. Appropriate for hippie leg and hip shaking.

Charleston Music Hall (Downtown)
One of my new favorites, as someone who enjoys having a seat to enjoy music these days (it's more about the personal space, less about the dancing). St. Paul and the Broken Bones is coming up, but sold out, so I would advise signing up for their eNewsletter. Dave Chapelle also sold out here, last month.

Surf Bar (Folly Beach)
A smaller spot where you can grab a burger, sit outside, and listen to tunes within blocks of Folly Beach. Live music almost every night of the week.

Prohibition (Downtown)
Surprisingly active music scene for a spot on King Street. Their bluegrass during Sunday brunch is my favorite, but they also host jazz and salsa nights.

Kudu (Downtown)
Sunny, warm days in Charleston are meant to be spent outside and their courtyard is like sitting in your friend's backyard enjoying a coffee or beer with the pleasure of music. 

Awendaw Green Barn Jam (Awendaw)
A favorite spot for locals. Takes place every Wednesday year-round, but they also host multiple events around town.

Palmetto Brewing (Downtown)
Their collaboration with Awendaw Green, the Loading Dock series, is the perfect low-key Friday evening with a pint, food truck, and tunes. In fact, plenty of the local breweries host live music, especially on the weekends. Follow their social media accounts for updates. 

The Sparrow (N. Charleston)
Touted as the only music venue in Park Circle, their upcoming line-up is pretty impressive with a large range in styles.

The Royal American (Downtown)
Hard to believe that they're able to fit a band in this spot, but they make it work and the crowd loves it. Likely to have a cover, so come armed with cash.

Tin Roof (West Ashley)
Karaoke? While not a band, it's still considered music, right? They also host bands a few times a week.

Hometeam BBQ (Multiple Locations)
With 3 locations in Charleston county, you can't go wrong with their food or tunes. Each location offers a different vibe and size for your crowd.

The Windjammer (Isle of Palms)
Many popular bands travel to town to perform in this venue. It has a beach view, but you'll most likely be going to a late night show here, unless the Budweiser bikini competition interests you (not for me).

The Gaillard (Downtown)
Recently renovated and just as stunning on the interior as it is on the exterior, this venue is likely to continue to host big names like Loretta Lynn and plenty of Spoleto performances.

N. Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center (N. Charleston)
From Garth Brooks and Earth, Wind, & Fire at the Coliseum to REO Speedwagon and The Head and the Heart (who I got to see this past Saturday!) at the Performing Arts Center, big names play here and pack the house.

Volvo Car Stadium (Daniel Island)
Outdoor venues in Charleston are a must and this intimate spot doesn't disappoint. The summer concerts are the absolute best (and the cicadas a little loud). The upcoming Jimmy Buffet show sold out in minutes. 

FESTIVALS/ SERIES:
High Water Music Festival
April 22 & 23, 2017
"Where Lowcountry culture meets a vibrant and diverse musical lineup at the waterfront just outside historic Charleston, SC." Lowcountry natives, Shovels and Rope, are hosting this music festival and making it very local friendly for vendors and attendees.

Spoleto Festival USA
May 26- June 11, 2017
"For 17 days and nights each spring, Spoleto Festival USA fills Charleston, South Carolina’s historic theaters, churches and outdoor spaces with performances by renowned artists as well as emerging performers in opera, theater, dance, and chamber, symphonic, choral and jazz music. Now approaching its 41st season, Spoleto Festival USA is internationally recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival."

Reggae Nights
Summer 2017
"The Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series at James Island County Park features traditional old school roots reggae with a new school attitude in a beautiful outdoor setting. Bring your chairs or blanket."


Looking to find out more about artists coming to town? Sign up for the eNews of some or all of the venues/festivals listed above to get notifications or search the hashtag #chsmusic. What's your favorite spot for tunes in the Lowcountry?

BONUS:

My mom singing to me in 1984. 

Bargain Shopping Lowcountry Style

Angela:

Emily and I love a good bargain, especially now that we are both moms. I discovered an entire new way of shopping when I was pregnant and was invited to attend the Charleston Repeats Sale (taking place again next weekend!) as a "New Mom."  Never again would I buy retail without thinking twice. With resources like ThredUp, OfferUp, Letgo and numerous other local, resale Facebook groups, rarely do I have to make a trip to a large retail store to make my purchases. I've bought everything second-hand, from maternity clothes and baby food, to floor lamps and baskets.

One of my favorite semi-annual sales, the Daniel Island Red Balloon Yard Sale, is quickly approaching. My girlfriends and I make an event of it. We leave our babies with their dads, meet before dawn, grab coffee and a biscuit, then begin the yard sale hunt. It's always fun to show off our goods at the end and decide who gets the "best bargain" bragging rights. 

I get excited about the semi/annual sale events, but for the day-to-day stuff, I often try to find it at a local resale shop first. I feel good about shopping second-hand because I am not only saving money, but also supporting local businesses.  

We've listed several of our favorite shopping spots below. 

For the kids:

Tiny Tadpoles is one of my favorite go-to shops on James Island.


Angels and Rascals in Mount Pleasant has an ever-changing inventory sure to please.


Charleston Repeats Sale is coming up March 9th-12th at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mount Pleasant.

In support of a cause:

Habit for Humanity ReStore has lots of great finds for those DIY projects around the house.

Animal Helpers Retail sale proceeds go to Pet Helpers to save animals in the Lowcountry.

 

Fashion and home finds:

Reinvented Upscale Resale is where I go for work attire and those staple closet pieces.

Worn. Consignment + Wear for Men is the place to send your man for an affordable wardrobe update.

Consign Charleston is hands down one of my favorite shopping spots! Find anything from designer clothing and jewelry, to furniture for the home.

Mt. Pleasant Mall in... you guessed it, Mt. Pleasant... is housed in an old furniture store and packed to the brim with impressive home items.

Other Events to check out:

Daniel Island Red Balloon Yard Sale
Whale of a Sale
That BIG Book Sale
Great Outdoor Gear Sale (James Island County Park)
Charleston Style Exchange

My husband requested that I be sure to add that McKevlins and Ocean Surf Shops have a great variety of used surf gear (I guess this is my hint).

Support local businesses by shopping resale instead of retail! Leave us a comment about where you like to bargain hunt. Even we haven't visited all of the great consignment shops around the Lowcountry.

Lowcountry Beer Is Here (Pt.2)

Trevor:

A lot has happened to the Lowcountry Beerscape since my last love letter. Can you believe 10 breweries have opened up?! Charleston City Paper follows the new arrivals, but Charlestonbrewerylist.com is even more on the up-and-up. There are a few breweries focused on distributing, but no tap rooms, just yet; Fatty’s Beer Works, Lo-Fi Brewing, Snafu Brewing, & Fat Pig Brewing. Snafu tap room is imminent. For the ones with open tap rooms NOW, keep reading:

Ghost Monkey
@ghostmonkeybrew | MAP
This nano is adjacent to the Wando Port Terminal on Long Point Road and their primate braincase is always howling for a pint. Garage doors are up in nice weather with music, food trucks, and a constantly rotating draft selection Thursday through Sunday. Special shoutout to the monkies for hosting Lowcountry Libation’s Colonial Cup Competition last year shortly before they opened their doors to the public.

Two Blokes
@twoblokesbrewing | MAP
Walk through the double entryway just off Long Point Road to find the Blokes’ Half Pints kids corner up front and a 7bbl brewhouse in back. Patrons, alewives (I'm referring to Emily, here), blokes, and lady blokes take refuge from the heat 7 days a week for a lineup of solid flagships and a steady drip of special releases.

Cooper River
@cooperbrewing | MAP
The shotgun style tap room near the “bridge to nowhere” runs parallel to the production floor. Gaze out through the glass with a pint in hand for a picturesque view of stainless brewery operations or chat with the Herron behind the bar. Find their warehouse 4 days a week for patio fun and food trucks to boot.

Low Tide
@lowtidebrewing | MAP
Open 5 days a week on Johns Island, this tap room has plenty of space indoors and out. Feed off their dozen beer offerings, plenty of food trucks, yoga and the natural beauty of the Island. Bring the dog and pick up an LT collar from their merch area.

Charles Towne Fermentory
@chsfermentory | MAP
Rustic meets fresh in this modestly sized Avondale tap room. You’ll find a small but distinctive tap list, with a healthy dose of hop haze for those who dig it. Go early with the kiddo before the crowd heats up 6 days a week.

Lagunitas Brewpub
#lagunitascharleston | MAP
Same vibe, different tastes from the old Southend location. Live music at 4:20pm every day to go with plenty of picnic style seating and hop forward favorites and seasonal brews. Grab some brewpub grub and chill.

What's your favorite new spot around town? Old favorite? 

Drink local, drink fresh! Cheers.

Bonus:
Thanks to my wife for carting us boys around for our field work on this post!

Favorite Food Truck Finds

Angela:

My husband and I have a running joke that we must lower our expectations for a delicious meal when we are vacationing because we may be disappointed when compared to dining in Charleston. In my opinion, we are spoiled here in the Lowcountry with the unbelievable amount of superb food available to us.

Some of my favorite bites of all time have happened in parking lots, on the side of a road, or in the heat of a summer farmer's market. I’m talking about food trucks. My very first weekend living here, friends invited me to tag along to a food truck rodeo. I had never heard of such a thing and was hooked from the very first bite.

In keeping with tradition, this weekend we attended the 6th Annual Food Truck Festival held in a new location in the Park Circle neighborhood of North Charleston. It was a little chilly for a Lowcountry winter day, but there was plenty of great food, drinks, and dancing to keep you warm.

Don’t miss the Johns Island Food Truck Festival event scheduled for February 11, 2017 or the Food Truck Rally 5k happening April 22, 2017.

If you’re not ready to try a food truck rodeo, start small by supporting the local truck parked in your office building parking lot for lunch one day. You can track your favorite trucks by following them on social media or by using trackers (like this Roaming Hunger tracker). You can also receive updates about events by ‘liking’ the Charleston Food Truck Federation Facebook page.

Holy City Sinner and Food Trucks In have provided a decent list of most of the food trucks in the area, but they are ever changing and often times you stumble upon something new to give a try when you least expect it. A few of our favorites (in no particular order):

Brava Bowls

I’m not the only one raving over this trend, rumor is that a Food Truck O’Rama will be opening in the spring (a place where food trucks can park and patrons will have access to seating, a bar, and bathrooms). In addition, we are seeing a trend in pop-up shops such as Two Nixons. (Delicious!) 

Also consider hiring a food truck to cater your next big event, meeting, or even birthday party such as Dashi!

Last but not least, a BIG shout-out to Dunes Properties colleague and food truck owner Jared Maus. Check out his truck, the Immortal Lobster, for an unbelievably delicious lobster roll (oddly enough, the Connecticut Roll was one of my pregnancy cravings)!

Idea Alert: If anyone would like to start a Poutine Food Truck, I promise to be a loyal customer! Tell us what food trucks you would like to see in the Lowcountry in our comments section.

A Love Letter from Ashley Galloway Thomas

Ashley:

I moved here in the Summer of 2014 with my then boyfriend (now husband-woot!) David, a Charleston native.  We had zero job prospects and a small amount of money to ride out an unknown length of unemployment. Some people thought we were foolish to move to a new city on these circumstances but to us, it just felt right. We were living in Peoria, IL at the time and were ready for a change (and some warmer weather). Charleston seemed like a no-brainer for us. We had a lot friends there, it’s full of amazing food and we’re total porch dogs. What more could we want? Two of our good friends let us stay in their attic apartment for a few months until we could land some jobs and find a place of our own. Which we did. And the rest is history.

Charleston has been and continues to be a beautiful place to live. Here are my top four reasons why I love living here.  

There’s a Strong Local Movement Here

In addition to the many local/family owned restaurants in the area, there are over 80 local farms here in the Lowcountry, many of which participate in a CSA program. Subscribing to a CSA helps keep your kitchen stocked with fresh produce, something near and dear to my heart as a Registered Dietitian. The healthier your environment is, the healthier you will be. Plus, it encourages variety in your diet which is a hallmark of nutritious eating. Love a good farmers market? We’ve got five; downtown, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, Johns Island and Boone Hall. Shopping at the farmers market is a great way to support local farmers and purveyors. The Lowcountry’s use of family owned local farms removes the dependence on 'big agriculture' which causes enormous environmental implications and does not support a sustainable food system, something that our growing population depends on. 

The Lowcountry Landscapes & Views Never Get Old

From sunsets to enormous oak trees to marshes, the Lowcountry is not lacking in the unique landscape department. Some enjoy the sunrise from the connector or the Ravenel bridge on the way to work. Others may watch a vibrant sunset on one of Charleston’s beaches, or over a drink on the dock at Shem Creek. There are several rooftop locations as well that give amazing views of the city. As for our dog Kiki, she prefers the warm and grassy marshland; she says the pluff mud is good for her skin. While the Angel Oak is a stunning and iconic tree of the Lowcountry, massive oak trees are all over this city, beautifully lining the streets of neighborhoods and parks, creating a canopy of oaks. And let’s not forget the beauty on the outskirts of Charleston like Boneyard Beach on Capers Island. We love to Kayak out and camp on Capers; it makes a great weekend getaway. 

Shem Creek sunset

Shem Creek sunset

Angel Oak tree

Angel Oak tree

Kiki enjoying the marsh

Kiki enjoying the marsh

Edmund’s Oast

The Charleston food scene is insane and there is no shortage of fantastic restaurants. But this one is my favorite. From the food, to the atmosphere, to the beer selection, it stole my heart at first visit. The menu boasts seasonal and local ingredients, always keeping you on your toes with something new. I always try something new when I go and have never - I repeat, never - been disappointed. This is rare and probably why I like Edmund’s Oast so much. If you like watching the chefs prepare your meal you can sit inside at the Chef’s Counter which places you front and center of the open kitchen. Or if you feel like enjoying the beautiful lowcountry weather, sit outside at a community table and get some fresh air. And lastly, the beer. Edmund’s is one of the few brewery based restaurants in the Lowcountry and has 40 beers on tap at a time. My favorite Edmund’s beers are Circe and Farrago. And you gotta try the Peanut Butter & Jelly beer just once. They also feature guest taps from local brewers and the most recent was a phenomenal Belgian Golden Ale brewed with beets. Yep, beets. Beautiful color and earthy flavor.  

A look into the Edmund's Oast kitchen

A look into the Edmund's Oast kitchen

I Can Commute by Bike

Why live downtown and not bike everywhere? This is a major perk for David and I since we both work at the College of Charleston. It takes us 15 minutes to get to work and we don’t have to sit in traffic or stress out about finding parking. When it rains we wear ponchos/rain jackets and when it’s 120 degrees outside we bring a change of clothes. We bike to friends houses, restaurants, bars, the farmer’s market and the Music Farm. The only thing we need now is a bike trailer to tote our groceries from the Harris Teeter :) And with all the hard work Charleston Moves is doing, we look forward to seeing other parts of Charleston become more bike friendly.  

Biking through the seasons

Biking through the seasons

Bio:

Ashley Thomas is a Registered Dietitian at the College of Charleston, teaches the Nutrition and Dental Health graduate course at MUSC, and writes her own food and nutrition blog, The Fresh Beet. She and her husband David Thomas live downtown with their spoiled fur baby, Kiki.  In her free time, Ashley can be found brushing up on her pottery skills, doing yoga and spending time with friends in the lovely Lowcountry. 

Self Discovery & Care in the New Year

Emily:

This past week, I read an entire book, mostly in one day. Not a children's book, but a 300+ page fiction novel. This is quite the achievement for my new mom status. Finishing that book did not come without guilt. The dishwasher really needed to be unloaded, the dog walked, notes needed to be put together from my 8 showings earlier in the week, and there was an email from my broker I needed to follow up on. Truly, the list goes on and on, so why not pause, decide what can wait (I mean, the baby has to be fed), and take some time for yourself? Below are some ideas on how to concentrate on your self care for the New Year. 

THE GIVEN
If you're reading this post to be encouraged to get your nails or hair done, get a massage or head to a yoga class, go for it, but the suggestions below are a little more outside of the box. I'm sure someday in the next couple of years, I'll have a few hours to spend at Earthling Day Spa and it will be fabulous. 

GET OUTSIDE
If you live in the Lowcountry, you have access to some of the country's best county parks and beaches. On the days I only have 30 minutes to spare, I tend to take a stroll around our neighborhood. It's the ultimate mood changer and especially rewarding now that my husband and I both have a FitBit (thanks, Santa). Our dog doesn't mind it and it's a major calming resource for the baby. Recently, I discovered a hiking group called Hike It Baby and once my little is old enough, I'd really like to try out Loblolly Adventures

Our littles, Ruby and Grant, enjoying Hampton Park in downtown Charleston

Our littles, Ruby and Grant, enjoying Hampton Park in downtown Charleston

LISTEN TO PODCASTS
For the busiest of people, a podcast is always a good idea. We're all in the car on and off throughout the week, so why not use that time to listen to a 30 minute segment on your hobby or lose your mind in fiction? Serial was a big hit a couple of years ago, but I've been sucked into Limetown, Presidential, TED Radio Hour, and Love + Radio. The lists for good podcasts go on and on. The library also has free downloadable audiobooks through the Overdrive and Hoopla.

GO TO THE LIBRARY
Speaking of books; When is the last time you went into a library and got lost for a while? One of my favorite activities is to walk to the New Book section in my local library branch and leave with a few, free to check out, non-fiction books to leave laying around the house. Do I really need to own The Tao of Bill Murray? Probably not, but it is fun to pick up and read a few lines when I have a moment or two to spare. Commit to spending 20 minutes walking around the library (apply for your library card online). It's mind-opening. If you're lucky, the bread making book you bring home for your husband might turn into his newest hobby that will keep an endless supply of baked goods in your home. 

DISCOVER NEW FOOD
Which leads us to cooking. Full disclaimer; Cooking is not my thing. Sure, I can bake a pre-made mix with the best of them and my mom's recipe for potato salad is a real winner, but it's not something that calms me. That being said, eating good food does heal me. Some days good food is comfort food and others it's a big, fresh plate of veggies, but either way, staying nourished is a good way to care for yourself. The library has an endless selection of cookbooks and our favorite time-sucker, Pinterest, still has all those recipes you saved back in 2013. We're lucky to live in a place that supports many farmer's markets and farms. Buy a veggie you've never cooked with before (watermelon radishes, anyone?) or stop at the farm stand you've been passing for years.

SLEEP WHEN YOU CAN
Rest doesn't come as easy for me as sleep. The day before I went into labor was spent at a nearly two hour yoga class after cleaning up one of my listing's back yards from Hurricane Matthew. These days, when my son goes to sleep, the electronic devices and lights get turned off and I commit to getting in as many hours of sleep in as I can. All these phone and computer items I've suggested above? Well, there's a time to stop. Tonight, pay attention to how long you spend doing unnecessary phone scrolling instead of sleeping. If there's anything motherhood has taught me in these first couple of months, it's that I can be incredibly unpleasant without sleep. Need something to keep you focused on cutting screen time? Try the app Moment.

BE YOUR BEST SELF/MOM
Since both becoming moms this year, Angela and I have both discovered a few resources to help along the way. Local entrepreneur (and friend), Gervase Kolmos, runs Shiny Happy Human, an online and in-person resource to moms. The Facebook group makes me laugh on a daily basis and helps me feel sane in this motherhood ride that somedays threatens to steal every brain cell I've worked so hard to cultivate. Posts on MotherMag and PopSugar Moms also help to relinquish some of the squishy brain functions. Alone time is absolutely necessary, so why not check out a morning program once or twice a week for those kiddos that aren't in school yet?

@gervasekolmos

What are some of your favorite things to do to encourage self-care? 

Wishing you great health and happiness in 2017!

 

Lowcountry Love Letters Official Instagram

We've come a long way over the past two years! As we gear up to start another year of Lowcountry Love Letters, we wanted to share a new way to follow our adventures; through our Instagram account @LowcountryLoveLetters.

We'd also like to encourage you, our friends and followers, to document your Lowcountry experiences by using the #LowcountryLoveLetters hashtag. Who knows? Maybe we'll feature one of your photos on our account!

Below are some of our favorite #LowcountryLoveLetters memories through the last couple of years.

You can check out more of photos past by searching #LowcountryLoveLetters and don't forget to follow @LowcountryLoveLetters for blog post updates, listing/home-buying photos, and generally gorgeous photos of the must-see Lowcountry.

From our families to yours, Happy Holidays!

Lowcountry Gift Guide 2016

Yes, we know it's hard to believe that the holidays are already upon us, but have no fear. We're providing our second annual gift guide below, featuring great gift ideas for under $50. Last year's gift guide has held the test of time, with items from Rewined Candles and King of Pops, so feel free to trek back for additional ideas.

3 Little Beads Oyster Pendant, $52 (ok, just over $50!)
Known for their original painted oyster pendant, this company describes their designs as delicately fierce handcrafted jewelry.  | Online Shop

Bittermilk, $20
Hand-crafted cocktail mixer compounds | Retailers

Bulls Bay Saltworks Gift Box, $30
Salt, sustainably harvested from Bulls Bay | Retailers

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits, $40
Carrie Morey founded Callie’s Charleston Biscuits in 2005 with the goal of making the tender, buttery, made-by-hand biscuits of her mother accessible across the country | Retailers

Cirsea Ice Cream Pint Club Connosiuer, $50
Eclectic ice cream flavors made by hand | Retailers

Color Coloring Book Bundle, $30
Celebrate the unique qualities of Charleston and use your imagination to add in the real energy of these special places - the people! - as you color the town | Online Shop

CSA Gift Card, All prices
Give the gift of local fruits and veggies with a gift card for any amount to one of the local Community Supported Agriculture groups in the Lowcountry, like Ambrose Family Farm or Boone Hall Farm. | CSA List

Fiber Art Workshop Woven Wall Hanging, $42
Handmade weavings, felted wildflower arrangements and terrariums, and felted jewelry | Online Shop

Firefly White Lightening Moonshine, $20
Firefly Distillery is located on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, thirty miles south of Charleston. It is the largest distillery in the state and has become a top destination in the Charleston area. We recommend visiting the distillery to pick this gift up and staying for a tasting. | Distillery or local liquor stores

Geechie Boy Mill Holiday Breakfast Sampler, $50
On their Edisto Island farm, the Johnsmans, owners of Geechie Boy Grits, operate historic working mills, creating grits used in the country’s finest restaurants, includingJames Beard award-winning chefs in nearby Charleston and around the nation.  | Retailers

Heritage by Sean Brock, $25
In Chef Brock’s much-anticipated first cookbook, this James Beard Award-winning chef presents all of the sublime dishes that have made him one of our country’s most acclaimed chefs | Local bookstore or Amazon

Mac & Murphy Gift Card, $50
Card and accessories gift shop located in the Cannonborough neighborhood | Online Shop

Nostalgic Graphic Shrimp Boat Children's Tee, $31
Vintage inspired tees that capture the memorable moments of childhood | Retailers

Peninsula Grill Coconut Cake, $12 per slice or $130 for full cake (16 servings)
With its twelve towering layers of delicious, Southern perfection, the Peninsula Grill Ultimate Coconut Cake® caused a sensation when it first appeared on the Peninsula Grill menu Valentine's Day 1997. Praise from Bon Appétit, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, The New York Times, TODAY Show, and Vogue—in addition to other esteemed culinary and travel media outlets, made the fresh vanilla and coconut infused dessert famous. | Online Shop or Peninsula Grill

So Twisted Up Headband, $12
Headbands and wraps with fun colors and designs that stay on securely with a "hidden" wire | Online Shop

Suite 33 Cosmetic Case, $45
Designer, Emily Papuga has created a collection of throw pillows and accessories using patterns inspired by iconic places and pieces of our #1 city. | Online Shop

Sweeteeth Chocolates, $6-$8
Sweeteeth creates artisan chocolates using traditional, handcrafted techniques. Their operation in North Charleston, is devoted to the small-batch production of finely crafted chocolate bars and bon-bons, with an emphasis on high-quality chocolate couverture and innovative flavor pairings. | Email sweeteeth@evopizza.com or spot them at many different food spots like Ted's Butcherblock or Caviar & Bananas

What's your favorite gift to give from the Lowcountry? Does you family have a tradition of giving certain gifts each year?

A Love Letter for Tater Burney-Wicke

David Wicke:

This past weekend, I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends and beloved family member.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

I met Tater "Buzz" Burney-Wicke over 4 years ago when Angela and I began our relationship.  I had set my jacket down on the couch and Tater hopped up, laid down in it and promptly went to sleep.  Normally, very territorial, Angela was surprised Tater was so comfortable with my presence.  Never once did he snap at me.  He was always tolerant of guests after some initial barking and sniffs, but he instantly liked me and would nuzzle up to me.  The affection was mutual.  Angela once told me that Tater was a major factor in deciding to be with me.  If Tater didn't like me, then I just wasn't good enough. She also told me that she thought I married her to be closer to Tater.  I'm a lucky man that the both of them decided to keep me.  

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Over the years, we went on many travels.  He would hike with us on Hunting Island, comb the beaches on Dewee's Island and Folly Beach, and James Island County Park.  He loved walking through Hampton Park and Downtown Charleston and especially around our neighborhood in Riverland Terrace.  We would take him to visit Angela's parents in North Carolina and my parents in Goose Creek.  He wasn't the quickest dog to walk with, though. Every ten feet, he had to mark his territory.  Tater would turn a 10-minute walk into an hour., but it was worth it to see his happy little tail wag back and forth.

Tater at his Riverland Terrace homestead

Tater at his Riverland Terrace homestead

For a man who loves the water so much, I was a little disappointed that Tater wasn't a water dog but, I think I understand.  Tater was so fiercely loyal and protective, he would literally drown himself trying to rescue you from the water.  Bath time wasn't his favorite, either, but he loved to be chased afterward.

Angela and Tater on Dewees Island

Angela and Tater on Dewees Island

We would often fall asleep and take naps together on the couch.  Sometimes, he would sleep next to my face and let one rip.  Oh so polite, that little guy.  He loved being chased throughout the house ending with belly rubs.  Sometimes, we would search the house for him only to find him curled up in our laundry.  If we ever had to leave him at a family or friend's house, we would leave one of my recently worn shirts in his bed.  He felt more comfortable that way.

Tater was a very punctual dog, too.  Each morning at 7, he would let us know it was time to get up.  At 4pm, he would be by the door, letting Angela know that I was on the way home.  At 5pm, I would come home and he would be under foot, ready to greet me. 6pm was dinner time and at 9pm, it was back to bed.  And if we didn't go to bed? He would get up every few minutes to let us know, "It's bedtime!".

Sometimes, if he was sick or scared, I would stay up all night with him, even on a work night.  I was never angry, I only wanted him to be comforted.  It worked both ways, too. He was there to comfort me on my not so great days.

In the past year, things took a turn.  Tater's heart was failing.  It was becoming too big for his body.  It's called dilated cardiomyopathy.  Pushing against his trachea, he struggled for breath sometimes.  Eventually, it became a chronic cough because it was the only way he could breath, if he became too excited (which was always around me).  It was hard, but he was still happy.  We could still walk through the neighborhood and I could still chase him around the house.

With this past year, we added another member to our family, little Ruby.  While Tater was never playful with Ruby, he didn't mind her either.  And Ruby was enraptured with Tater.  She wanted nothing more to pet Tater, her older "brother".  Some days, he would actually let her.  As she began to learn how to crawl, Tater would always stay just out of reach.  Now, Ruby can race along pretty well.  I think she learned faster than normal with Tater motivating her.  I'd also like to think that his heart got so big because it was so full of love for our family.

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This weekend, Tater lost his appetite.  It was surprising because he was always a big fan of my cooking.  Soon, he couldn't walk for very long.  We took him to the emergency vet.  It was a whirlwind of bad news.  We could tell he was in pain and exhausted at this point.  So, Angela and I made the decision to make his last moments as comfortable as possible with the family he loved so much.  With Tater in both Angela's and my hands, we had to say goodbye to our dear family member, our "son".  Four years was not enough for me and fifteen years was not enough for Angela.

I tell you Tater's story, not because I want you to be sad, but because I want you to know the love we knew by being Tater's family.  It may seem ridiculous to those of you without a pet, but knowing Tater's unconditional love is important.  Even as my keyboard is dotted with tears of sorrow and joy, I want you to feel at least a little of that love.

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We're coming up on the holidays which is a special time of year that we spend with family, friends and loved ones.  So here are a few tips for those of you who will be around your four-legged friends:

- Beware of poultry and pork bones as treats.  They can splinter, become sharp and damage the esophagus, stomach and intestines of your animals.  Cooked beef bones are best.

- During celebrations, loud noises and bright lights can frighten your animals.  Make sure you keep track of them during the use of fireworks and such.  More dogs get lost during 4th of July and New Year's than any other time of year.

- If you are planning on getting a pet for your family this holiday season, check out the local shelters, first.  There are a lot of wonderful animals waiting to be loved and join you for your adventures in the next decade plus.

Thank you for listening to my story.  Thank you Tater for being such a fierce warrior, loyal companion and loving brother.  Thank you for being my "son" and thank you for teaching me how to be a good dad!

See You Later Tater!

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Buy Local Block Party 2016- Meet the Vendors

It's hard for us to believe that it's been a year since we hosted the Buy Local Block Party with Lowcountry Local First. This year, their amazing staff and planning volunteers have curated the vendors on their own and have given us a sneak peak into what's to come. See below for all the important details:

FROM LOWCOUNTRY LOCAL FIRST
The Buy Local Block Party brings community members and local merchants together for a one-of-a-kind fundraiser and social event that highlights locally-owned, independent businesses with live music, local artists, indie retailers, farm stand, kids activities, and of course LOCAL food, beverages and beer garden. Just in time for all your holiday shopping, we're curating 40+ vendors featuring local makers, artists, and craftspeople, celebrating the great things that are made, produced and grown in the Lowcountry.

DETAILS
Buy Local Block Party
Saturday, November 12
1630 Meeting Street, 29405
11AM-4PM
Photos from last year's fun

TIPS

  • Bring Cash – Just in case. Many of the vendors accept cards, but sometimes the wi-fi connection runs slow. 
  • Come Hungry – LLF will have plenty of food and drink available from various local vendors along with a local farm stand hosted by LLF's Growing New Farmers program and Lowcountry Street Grocery
  • Pace Yourself – Shop for yourself, or pick up some great gifts for the holidays, with items unique to Charleston that are truly one-of-a-kind finds.
  • Take a Business Card – Most of the vendors have shops online, so be sure to grab their business cards in case you would like a different item, size, shape, color, etc. They may have additional goods online or be open to custom orders.
  • Tickets- Buy ahead of time or pick up day of for $10. Kids 12 and under are free.
  • RSVP- Check out the Facebook event page to stay up-to-date on all the details.

VENDORS

Breton Trading Co.
Ansley Elizabeth Designs
Fiber Art Workshop
Laura Jane Louise Designs
Nostalgic Graphic Tees
Tremundo
LeBon Designs
A Frock To Remember Vintage
Supermassive Textiles
circa1910
Queenly Artistry
Sawdust Wood Co.
Inspired by Stephanie Rose
So Twisted Up
Surcee Jewelry
SheSells Candles
Hemming Birds
Red Rose Vintage
Mad Made Metals
bareforms
Charleston Map Jewelry
The Spice and The Spoon
Moon Bath Botanicals
pH reclaimed
Origin Acres
The Contents Co.
Alison Brynn Ross Illustration & Design
JUST WATCH ME
Hunter Brookes
Bulls Bay Saltworks
Sea+Stone Jewelry
On A Wire Handmade Jewelry
J. Stark
Olinda Olives and Olive Oil
Pure Fluff Co.
Burnt and Salty
Brooke Wilder Atelier
JoJo Rings
The Vinyl Countdown
Mantras in Bloom
Miss Maddies
8 Petals Design

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(L to R): Ansley Elizabeth Designs, Fiber Art Workshop, Laura Jane Louise Designs, Nostalgic Graphic Tees, Tremundo, LeBon Designs, A Frock To Remember Vintage, Supermassive Textiles, circa1910

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(L to R): Queenly Artistry, Sawdust Wood Co., Inspired by Stephanie Rose, So Twisted Up, Surcee Jewelry, SheSells Candles, Hemming Birds, Red Rose Vintage, Mad Made Metals

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(L to R): bareforms, Charleston Map Jewelry, The Spice and The Spoon, Moon Bath Botanicals, pH reclaimed, The Contents Co., Alison Brynn Ross Illustration & Design, JUST WATCH ME, Hunter Brookes

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(L to R): Bulls Bay Saltworks, Sea+Stone Jewelry, On A Wire Handmade Jewelry, J. Stark, Olinda Olives and Olive Oil, Pure Fluff Co., Burnt and Salty, Brooke Wilder Atelier, JoJo Rings

(L to R): The Vinyl Countdown, Miss Maddies, 8 Petals Design

(L to R): The Vinyl Countdown, Miss Maddies, 8 Petals Design

What vendor are you most looking forward to? How do you like to Buy Local in Charleston?