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. 

A Few Fun Days on Folly Beach

This week's post is about all things Folly Beach, or as it is commonly referred to by locals, the "Edge of America." 

Our friends Erica van Bavel and Eric Olivier happen to be getting hitched in the Lowcountry this coming Saturday, with family and friends (hi, guys!) staying on Folly. We decided to map out a fun few days to fill in the gaps, while they're not celebrating with the happy couple, but this could apply to anyone looking for a long weekend away on Folly.

BACKGROUND
Folly Beach is a barrier island that sits just south of the Charleston peninsula. The island is mostly residential with beach house rentals, bed and breakfasts, and few hotels available.  Folly in the fall is one of my favorite times of year. This is the time when the weather and water are still relatively warm, the bugs are at bay, and you can take your pooch to the beach without worry. 

WEDNESDAY
At Folly River Park, you will find a small local Farmer's Market this evening. Start your long weekend here, grab dinner from a food truck and enjoy some local music. This is a great place to pick up a few locally handcrafted souvenirs including one of those famous sweetgrass baskets. If the food trucks aren't what you had in mind for dinner, consider checking out one of my favorite restaurants on Bowen's Island, just down the road from Folly. In October, Bowen's Island Restaurant serves up some of the best oysters in the area. This place isn't fancy, but definitely worth the short trip over the bridge. The Tides Hotel also shows movies on Wednesday nights at dusk on the beach. These are free, just bring a towel or blanket and check out their page for this week's movie pick!  The Tides Hotel also is home to the great Blu Beach Bar where you can get a great view of the ocean while sipping on a cocktail.

THURSDAY
Beach day! If you're looking for a beautiful path to the beach, check out the public beach access located where E. Ashley Avenue meets 13th Street. As you walk through the lush green tree lined path, you will emerge onto one of the best surf spots at Folly Beach. You may also notice areas on the dunes roped off with stakes and tape. These areas are marking sea turtle nests and are not to be disturbed. If you go out for a night walk, you will notice that Folly Beach is a "light's out" beach, as not to confuse the hatchlings. Walk to the north from this public access and you can catch a glimpse of the Morris Island Lighthouse. More beach fun can be found walking through the Folly Beach County Park in search of sand dollars and shells or checking out the Folly Beach Pier. Looking for dinner? Enjoy a bite, beer, or live music at Chico Feo.

FRIDAY
Friday fun day could be spent playing cornhole or shuffle board at The Barrel. The view is beautiful and the drinks are cold here.  You could also checkout Crosby’s Fish & Shrimp Friday Night for a fun night of live music and seafood on the dock. The family friendly affair is run by the Crosby family and open to the public, beginning at 6pm (weather permitting). If it's late night dancing you're after, shake it on over to Snapper Jacks for some rooftop fun or stop by Surf Bar for some more local music.

SATURDAY
Today would be the day to venture into town. The Charleston Farmer's Market at Marion Square, downtown is bustling with people, food, activities, and more local vendors to find just what you're looking for to make this trip memorable. While you're downtown, stroll down King Street for some additional shopping. If you get there early enough, Glazed may still have some fresh doughnuts available! Before you head back to Folly for the evening, make sure to check out at least one of the downtown, rooftop bars to get a complete view of the Holy City.

SUNDAY
Breakfast or Sunday brunch at Lost Dog Café is a must!  This is one of our all-time favorite breakfast spots. It's a popular place, so you may have to wait, but we guarantee it is worth it. If your pooch is accompanying you on this trip, they are welcomed on the porch here. If it's just a cup of coffee you're after, check out Black Magic Cafe just off of Center Street.

Our congratulations to Erica and Eric. We can't wait to see you two walk down the aisle with this beautiful Lowcountry backdrop. Many happy days ahead!

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You might have heard a thing or two about it flooding these last few days in the Lowcountry. We're happy to report that both of our homes and loved ones stayed safe during the rains, but not everyone was so lucky. We are very grateful to the first responders and everyone that continues to work together to keep us all informed on safety precautions and what is ahead of us. For now, we're all looking forward to the sun predicted on Tuesday. Our friend (and van Bavel bridesmaid) Stacey appeared on CNN to discuss her experience with the flood downtown. Somehow, we always tend to keep a sense of humor in this town- and a pair of rain boots at our front door.