A Love Letter from Mackenzie Foster

Mackenzie:

“Why would anyone want to leave this wonderful city?” is a question I hear frequently from visiting friends and family.  They are always in awe of the warm sunshine, the diverse restaurant scene, and the abundance of things to do. While I don’t have good answer to their question, I can say that I was one of the ones who left. After four years at the College of Charleston, studying for midterms, lying on the grass at Marion Square, countless hours at the beach, and playing Ultimate Frisbee outdoors all year round, I graduated, packed up, and moved to Chicago. Cold, snowy, eight-months-of-winter, Chicago. My five years in the Windy City were filled new experiences, lots of fun, and many lessons learned, but I do have to admit that moving back to Charleston was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Luckily, the Lowcountry welcomed me back with open arms. My departure and return enabled me to see the Lowcountry in a whole new “rose colored glasses” kind of light. While sitting down to write this post I made a list of all the things that I love about the Lowcountry and what makes it unique (it was a little extensive…). There were many topics that have already been mentioned on Lowcountry Love Letters (including some of my faves- the beauty of brunch, the growing craft brewery scene, and of course the beach) so I narrowed my list to three.

1) People

There is nothing comparable to the people you meet in the Lowcountry. South Carolina’s “Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places” motto is spot on. Upon my return, I immediately appreciated the warm feeling of walking down the street and having complete strangers smile and say hello. While the rest of the country sometimes thinks this is strange, here Southern kindness reigns. I was very impressed by my neighbors who are always willing to lend a helping hand, my coworkers who understand that family comes first, and my friends who are always there when I need them. I get laughed at from my Chicago friends when I tell them I am baking a pie or a casserole to bring to a friend or that a friend is cooking me dinner, but this is just the way people in the Lowcountry treat each other.

Our annual Charleston family Easter took place yesterday, where of course, Mackenzie brought two grits dishes.

2) Pace

When I first moved to Chicago, I worked with a group of individuals from New York who were opening a Broadway musical in the Windy City. I was in the throws of learning the lifestyle differences between what I have always known and what I would need to quickly pick up. One instance stuck out in particular; while driving with a coworker, I was informed that my driving style could be described as “moseying” (he was a little terrified of the defensive drivers). While at the time I was extremely offended, I have now learned to appreciate the notion of “stopping to smell the roses”. Most of those that I have met upon my return to the Lowcountry have perfected the art of a work-life balance. They understand the beauty of sitting on the porch with a cold beverage, watching the world go by, or taking a long slow stroll down the beach while catching up with a friend.  In a city filled with such beauty, it seems as though the inhabitants ensure that they take in and appreciate all that the Lowcountry has to offer.

3) Culture
As someone who has a background in theatre and the arts, I understand the South is sometimes perceived as having limited options when it comes to the world of art. Luckily, Charleston does not follow suit. We have Spoleto Festival USA, (which is coming up quickly!) offering seventeen days of world-renowned artists who come in from all over the globe to present dance, theatre, opera, and music.  We have the French Quarter Art Walk happening four times a year, touring Broadway shows coming through the North Charleston Performing Arts Center (Phantom of the Opera going on now!), contemporary art centers like Redux and The Halsey Institute, Reggae Nights Summer concerts, improv at Theatre 99, dance projects like DanceFX, concerts at the Charleston Music Hall or the Music Farm and the list continues. There is always something new and fun to experience.

Bio (by Emily):
Mackenzie lives in Mt. Pleasant with her diva cat, Lucille. She spends her days running the world of set design and production for various projects that include Spoleto, President Obama's visit last year, Darius Rucker's surprise CMT concert on the Isle of Palms and more. Her evenings and weekends are filled with outdoor adventures, glorious first sips of champagne, and bad television with her best girlfriends.

Sound Like a Lowcountry Local

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a luncheon with a group of friends (and Friends volunteers from my former life) when I was corrected in my pronunciation of the word Chicora, by a Charleston resident of 60 years. Now, if someone's going to correct me, I want it to be this gal, a former school teacher and extreme book lover. Today, I'm here to help prevent this travesty from happening to you, with a quick reference guide to some of those tricky words we use around the Lowcountry:

Barre (BEAR-E)
Beaufain (buh-FANE)
Beaufort (BUE-fuht)
Chapin (CHAY-pin)
Chicora (shuh-KOH-ruh)
Cooper (KOOP-uh)
Gaillard (gil-YAHD)
Givhans (GIV-ANZ)
Hassell (HAZE-ul)
Huger (YOO-JEE)
Kiawah (KEE-ah-WAH)
Legare (luh-GREE)
Moultrie (MOOL-tri)
Prioleau (PRAE-LOE)
Sans Souci (SAHN SOO-si)
Sumter (SUMP-tur)
Vanderhorst (VAN DRAWS)

I even got Ms. Jean (the gal referenced above) to help you out, so you can hear the words. Believe me, your GPS will butcher them, so pay no mind to that silly thing. (Seriously, HUGE-ER?)

Looking for a pocket guide to impress your house guests? I pulled all of these phonetically spelled works from the book "Correct Mispronunciations of Some South Carolina Names". The book is available on Amazon, but I'd check with a Friends of the Library Book Sale (where I got my copy, with a past owner's inscription from 1996) or Blue Bicycle Books on King Street, first.

Need a quick guide to more words? This South Carolina Pronunciation Guide is helpful, as well, but the list is VERY long.

Have any to add, natives? Comment below. We'll take your video submissions on pronunciations, as well.

*** Congratulations to Angela and David on the birth of their healthy baby girl, yesterday! We'll be back on a regular schedule, Monday, March 28. Until then, lots of baby cuddles (and hopefully some sleep). ***

Looking Back on a Year Well-Lived

2015 has been a big year for both of us!  We launched this blog, both left established careers to pursue real estate full-time, and celebrated momentous life events; including wedding anniversaries, international travels, and the announcement of a little one on the way. With all of this, we decided to go back and offer updates from blog posts past. Scan through the images below to see our notables.

Have an idea for a great post? Email us and we'll be in touch shortly. We appreciate any and all feedback. You guys are a good part of the reason we've been so successful!

**With all of this great content in our archives, we've decided to scale our posts back to twice a month. Our next post will come out on January 18th.**

Lowcountry Love,
A & E


Local New Year's Luck

A few years ago, Trevor and I were in New Orleans to celebrate New Years Eve and spend time with his family. We spent New Years Day at his Aunt Melanie’s house where she cooked us black eyed peas and cabbage, a New Year’s tradition I was unfamiliar with at the time. Now, I’m reminded of South Carolina’s take on the tradition, as I order our weekly haul (cowpeas included) from Sea Island Local Outlet (SILO), an online farmer’s market of sorts. Guess we’ll be making some Hoppin’ John New Years Day to bring us luck in 2016.

SILO has become a staple in our grocery shopping pattern during these last few months of Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA’s) being closed for the season. We first learned of the program through Grow Food Carolina, where we conveniently pick up our weekly cooler bag of fresh and local goodies, all for a great price. Some of which include; bread, greens, cheese, rice, honey, spices, pies, and so much more. The online market, which normally runs through Wednesday at noon for orders, is available for pick-up every Thursday. Like a CSA, you pick up all of these items bagged together, but you select the items yourself from several different farmers and vendors. There is no weekly requirement to order, which is great for when you’re traveling. Best to put in your order sooner than later, if you are interested that week, as some items sell out quickly. What I loved during this holiday season, was the way they promoted their health, beauty, and crafts. Do you need a worm compost kit? They have that, too.

To learn more about SILO and becoming a member, visit their site, read about the growers and producers, peruse their market, and get to shopping. Their weekly newsletter provides a list of what’s available for the week and their colorful pictures are always enticing. If you’re making resolutions, why not add supporting local agriculture to that list?

A sample list of this week’s offerings (order by noon today, 12/28 for the holiday schedule!):
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Arugula
Carolina Caviar
Tuscan Bean Ravioli
Various Micro-Greens

Get social with SILO:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Here’s wishing you lots of love and luck in 2016, friends!

Letters of Gratitude - Our Personal Thanks

Today, we've decided to share our individual letters of gratitude. It has been a wild year for both of us, and as we wrap-up this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we thought, "what better blog this week, than our own personal letters to the Lowcountry for you; our supporters, followers, and fellow neighbors?". Thank you to each and every one of you for following our posts and supporting us! 

Emily:
This past Friday, as our flight landed at the Charleston airport after a few great days with family in New Orleans, I was overwhelmed with happiness to be home. While our adventures frequently take us all over the world, that are spectacular in their own right, I can’t seem to get enough of the Lowcountry. It's hard to beat sunsets, bridge walks, dinners at our favorite restaurant, or evenings in with Trevor and our dog, Miles. It doesn’t matter where we travel, we’re always inundated with questions about the Lowcountry. These are the three most recent and popular:

  1. What’s the temperature like this time of year? High of 70 today
  2. Do you have any plans for the holidays around town? Starlight yoga, annual favorite things party and cookie exchange party with my girlfriends, Lowcountry Libations holiday party at Frothy Beard Brewing, watching the downtown Christmas parade with my colleagues, and more
  3. How are the homes selling there? Here’s a market report, but I’ll give you a hint, they’re hot

These answers typically result in another question: When can we visit? Luckily, our home has an extra bedroom that stays pretty full (it should have its own calendar). In the past month, my best friend from my hometown and my dad and his wife have visited. So, while I may live 5 1/2 hours away from my hometown and some of my family (Hi, Everett's and Bowman's!), which is difficult during the holiday season, we are grateful to live in a place where people love to visit.

If you would have asked me six years ago where I would be today, I highly doubt my prediction would come anywhere close to where life has taken me. Though it’s come with the hardest day of my life, when I lost my mom a little less than 3 years ago. It’s also come with the best day of my life, when I married Trevor. Moving to the Lowcountry was the best decision for my life, at the time, that pointed me in the right direction. I spent 5 wonderful years working at a dedicated non-profit, my best friend moved here with her kids from our hometown, I started a new career with the support from an amazing company and colleagues, my dad moved an hour closer to be in Asheville, my husband's family is right around the corner, I have met the best people in our community and continue to meet more through this blog and other outlets, and I get to wake up every day with my husband and dog in our house we made a home. So, thank you Lowcountry. You’re everything I ever dreamed of and some of what I could have never conceived and for that, I am so incredibly THANKFUL.
 

Emily and Trevor's Christmas tree, "Shorty", coming in at 9+ feet. Decorated by family on a fun, Sunday afternoon.  

Emily and Trevor's Christmas tree, "Shorty", coming in at 9+ feet. Decorated by family on a fun, Sunday afternoon.  

Angela:
What a year!  This ride called life has really started to speed up. I caught myself giving out unsolicited advice to a girlfriend in her 20s yesterday on how if I had known in my 20s how wonderful everything will work out in my 30s, I could have stressed a little less and enjoyed my earlier youth a little more (Mom, Dad, you were right). This year especially has been a 'year of change' for me.  I moved into a new full-time career, traveled extensively with my husband David, and together we decided to start a family. As I begin to move into this next exciting chapter in my life, I'm finding overwhelming support from places that I never expected. Neighbors, colleagues (from past and present), girlfriends, clients, and my new family gained through marriage, have made my support system here strong. Moving here five years ago and only knowing one person (Hi Kristen!) was one of the biggest leaps of faith that I had ever taken. Good news, so far all has turned out to be amazing and I give all credit to you Lowcountry, the friendly people that make your communities here great, and this beautiful environment that I enjoy daily. There is something truly spiritual about sipping coffee on my front porch swing (almost year round due to our very mild weather) and watching the sailboats float by.

I especially love showing properties and seeing the beautiful communities full of charm and character through my client's eyes. It's like my first day in the Lowcountry all over again. The "ohs" and "ahs" when I drive folks around Hampton Park, the twinkle that Sunset Park will bring to a first-timer's smile, the silence of approval experienced when eating your first Zia Taqueria taco or Moe's Crosstown Burger. All of these experiences are what make me truly grateful to call this place home.

Lowcountry, I feel that I should let you know that there are a few places where my life changed that will always hold a special place in my heart and connect us forever:

  • Folly Beach on 13th E. Street is where my husband loves to surf and where I have made a great group of friends who constantly show us support and love
  • O-Ku where (exactly three years ago) David and I met for our first date. It was followed by the most delicious homemade poptarts at The Belmont and ended with a kiss on the cheek goodbye in the Charleston Visitor's Center Parking Deck
  • Hampton Park where I walked my dog Tater for miles and miles daily contemplating life, if I was on the right path, if I was happy with the woman I was growing to be, and wondering if I would ever have a family of my own
  • Riverland Terrace where David and I have made a home and are preparing to fill it with love for a little one on the way

So, as we move into the hectic holiday season, I hope that we can all pause for a moment and take in the magic that exists within each of us and our community. Cheers to you Lowcountry! Today and everyday I pause to give THANKS to you.

 

Angela and David, Christmas tree shopping, in short sleeves, no less.  

Angela and David, Christmas tree shopping, in short sleeves, no less.  

Coastal Expeditions- Bulls Island

You're in luck on this 70 degree day- another outdoor post. This cooler weather has us taking advantage of sunshine with little to no perspiration. October is typically my favorite month in the Lowcountry, but November, this year, is certainly giving it a run for its money.

Growing up, I was never much of an outdoors girl. With a library book and a porch swing, I acquired all the Vitamin D I needed from the comfort of our own front porch. Which is why, at the age of 13 (pure joy to be around, I promise), when my dad decided to take me, a friend, and my mom on a relatively flat, mile and a half walk to a waterfall, I was already hesitant. The story of this walk will likely be passed down for generations (there's photographic evidence below), and like any good fable will be exaggerated, but let's just say I had to cling to a rock wall for dear life and the 'walk' lasted several hours. You've got to give my dad credit, he kept trying. Oh, how I wish I had paid more attention when we visited the Grand Canyon that next year. We can assume that his encouragement paid off, because today, I choose to write these posts on my patio, walk to lunch, explore the parks, and camp for friend's birthdays, rather than stay inside. When my dad and his wife Pam said they were coming into town for my birthday this past weekend, I knew we had to get outdoors.

Coastal Expeditions was new to me just a few months ago. My family friend and colleague, Vannessa, asked if I wanted to do the Bulls Island beach drop with her and her husband (mine was brewing beer- surprise!) one sunny Sunday. We got up early, drove to Awendaw, visited Sewee Outpost for biscuits, and made it to the boat just in time to set out on an adventure. Our Captain, Wil, gave us all the details of what we were seeing left and right until we arrived at our destination. I'll leave all the history and details to him, as he's been doing this for 12 years and is the expert. I'm confident that after seeing my photos below, you'll add this to the top of your to-do list for visitors and locals. That evening, I returned home energized and even more inquisitive about this gorgeous setting in which we live.

This past Saturday, luck shined down on us and we were graced with a gorgeous day to take the Bulls Island Ferry for a half day onto the other side of the island, again with Captain Wil. Both times, the boats were filled with families of all ages, abilities, and dispositions. We walked a mile or so to the beach, passing the marsh and a few alligators. The sounds coming from the water were an orchestra of wildlife. The beach was wide and devoid of people, but full of sand dollars.

BULLS ISLAND FERRY TRIP:

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My dad, Pam, me, and Trevor waiting on the ferry to leave.

Ready for our trek

Ready for our trek

Our stroll in the shade

Our stroll in the shade

"Chompy"

"Chompy"

The cutest little sand dollar you ever did see

The cutest little sand dollar you ever did see

My dad and Pam, with no one else in sight

My dad and Pam, with no one else in sight

The boneyard

The boneyard

Bonus: 

Me and my friend, Natasha, on that ill-fated walk to the falls

Me and my friend, Natasha, on that ill-fated walk to the falls

Until our next adventure outdoors! (That would be tomorrow for a trip out to Dewees Island)

Getting Outside of the Lowcountry 'Burbs

Today's guest blogger is our friend and newlywed, Erica Olivier. You might remember the Few Fun Days on Folly post we did last month for her wedding guests. Well, her wedding was held in one of the most gorgeous locations on the exterior of the Lowcountry line and today she's here to share more points of interest that lend a good, outdoors adventure.

Erica:

When I moved to the Lowcountry 10 years ago (wow, has it really been that long?!) to attend the College of Charleston, I was excited to live in such a beautiful and historic city with a chance for water views pretty much every time I went to the grocery store.  I was pleasantly surprised at the many opportunities available to enjoy the natural beauty of the nearby marshes, forests and waterways.  Whether you’re outdoorsy in the sense that you enjoy brunch in the sun or you want to brush up on your survival skills after the latest episode of The Walking Dead, the Lowcountry has something for you. 

You don’t have to travel too far from beautiful Charleston to get your nature fix. Just south of Charleston proper is the ACE Basin, a 217,000 acre nature preserve and one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast.  The name ACE comes from the three rivers - The Ashepoo, the Combahee and the Edisto - that run through the state and drain to create the St. Helena Sound, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean between Edisto Beach and Beaufort.  

The ACE Basin is home to several wildlife management areas - WMAs for short.  A visit to one of these can offer the chance for some incredible nature trail hiking and wildlife watching, especially for coastal birds.  My favorite so far is Bear Island WMA.  Getting here requires a 40 minute drive on 17S to Bennett’s Point Road, which will take you down to the preserve adjacent to the South Edisto River.  These waters are some of the most pristine around, and it’s all because they’ve been protected by NOAA and SCDNR (thanks, guys).  

In fact, the ACE Basin waterways are so pristine, that they allow for quite the aquaculture presence here in Charleston.  You like those plump, bright and briny local oysters that are in season, right now?  Most of them come from the ACE Basin.  Beaufort Cups, Single Ladies from Lady’s Island, ACE Blades, Otter Island Roasters and Charleston Salts are all sourced from this area, if you hadn’t already guessed from their names. I could go on and on about the oyster farms, fisheries and general “merroir” of the ACE Basin and surrounding  Lowcountry that makes for some of the best seafood around, but that’s another blog post (Emily: Yes, please!)…

Ok, so let’s take a trip down the Edisto River headed toward the beach.  There is plenty of outdoor fun to be had along the way.  We’re going to start up in Canadys, which is about half way to Columbia.  It’s far enough upstate that there isn’t even a trace of brackish in the river water.  Here, you can kayak or canoe to a primitive treehouse camping spot.  Wait, treehouses?  Yes, true story.  Channel your inner Swiss Family Robinson and spend a night here.  No electricity, but there is running water and you’ll see and hear all sorts of wildlife from your deck.  This is your big chance to sit around the fire and sing kumbaya, or whatever strikes your fancy.  

If you haven’t had the opportunity to do a river float down the Edisto from Givhan’s Ferry State Park, you should.  I shied away from this for quite a while because of my alligator hunting history… (bad karma?) but finally bit the bullet and loved every minute of the floats I’ve participated in, free of gator bites no less.  Pack your car full of friends, snacks and drinks and spend an afternoon floating down the river in a tube (Recommendation: River Run  2, space for you and a small cooler).  It’s relaxing and you’ll see several miles of beautiful blackwater river.   It’s a unique opportunity to catch up with friends if the busy-ness of life has gotten in the way.  You know, because you’re stuck in a tube next to them for 5 hours, but that’s where the cooler comes in.   

Our friends, Adam and Stacey Bailey, modeling their River Run 2 on the Edisto

Our friends, Adam and Stacey Bailey, modeling their River Run 2 on the Edisto

Continuing our trip down the Edisto River, you can enjoy a picturesque drive down SC 174 towards the beach.  It’s a 2 lane road that winds through marsh, forest and live oaks which hang over the highway itself.  It takes about 20 minutes from the left turn off of 17S to get to Edisto Beach, and along the way there are several places worth a quick stop.  

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If you trail a boat, you can put in at the public landing by the McKinley Washington bridge - known as the Big Bridge to locals - crossing the river to Edisto Island, and run up the river towards Willtown Bluff.  Keep an eye out for alligators!  They’re everywhere out here, and some of them grow upwards of 14 feet long.  If you decide to venture out by boat into the St. Helena Sound, one spot not to be missed is Monkey Island.  It’s officially named Morgan Island, but it’s aptly nicknamed because of the colony of Rhesus monkeys that were relocated there from a research facility in Puerto Rico in the 70s.  Crazy, right?  I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes and then immediately Googled to get the back story.  

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Once you get to Edisto Island, be sure to pull off at King’s Market.  King’s is a family run farm and market where you can find some of the freshest local produce around.  They also package up frozen meals and other treats to go in their commercial kitchen.  The tomato pie was pretty much life changing for me and there is always an assortment of yummy casseroles.  Pick up some snacks and wine for a picnic at Botany Bay which is another few miles down the road.

Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and WMA is yet another nature preserve within the limits of the ACE Basin.  The drive from Charleston takes about an hour so it’s perfect for an afternoon trip.  Two working plantations used to operate here, and traces of them can still be seen as you make your way through the park.  Bring a camera, because there are miles and miles of breathtaking marsh views and ancient live oaks.  A short walk down a gravel path through tidal marshes will bring you to Boneyard Beach, named for the fallen oaks and large driftwood washed up on the shore.  It doesn’t look like any of the other beach in the lowcountry and serves as a stunning backdrop for photography or a romantic stroll.  Note - Botany Bay is closed for hunting from time to time, so be sure to check the website before making the drive out there.

Erica's stunning bridal portrait on Botany Bay (courtesy: Dreampop Media)

Erica's stunning bridal portrait on Botany Bay (courtesy: Dreampop Media)

Enough reading... go explore! After this rainy season, of course.


Trick or Treat Lowcountry Style

Children, adults, and pets alike can all agree that Halloween in the Lowcountry is packed full of fun! In honor of the spooky holiday ahead, we decided to break down some of the many events happening around our area this weekend.

For the Kids:

Trick or Treat in the Park (Friday, 10/30, 4-6 p.m., FREE) Join the City of Charleston Recreation Department at Hampton Park in an exciting afternoon of trick-or-treating, pony rides, hayrides, games, jump castles, and a costume contest for kids 12 & under.
(Photo: @charlestonsc)

Family Fright Night at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (Friday, 10/30, 6-10 p.m., FREE under 6, $10 ages 6+) is perfect for the family looking for pirate stories, monster games, and haunted train rides

Halloween under the Oaks (Saturday, 10/31, 6 p.m., FREE) in the James Island neighborhood Riverland Terrace is one of the largest trick or treating events on the island. Wappoo Drive will be closed to traffic to allow for pedestrians only starting at 5:30 p.m.

Visit your community library branch (All week, FREE) for Halloween events like; Afternoon Adventure in Goulish Makeup, and Friday Night Fright Halloween party at the Main Library.
(Photo: @edhirst5876)

If you’re searching for that last minute costume for your kiddo, these are some of our favorite costume spots when you’re on a budget:
Tiny Tadpoles  -  James Island
Consign Charleston - West Ashley
Once Upon a Child  - West Ashley
Angels & Rascals - Mt. Pleasant

For the Pets:

Kia Boo and Bark (Saturday, 10/31, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., FREE) is the best Halloween Pet Party in town.  There will be a pet costume contest with all proceeds benefiting the Charleston Animal Society's Pet Food Bank.

Fall Festival and Trick or Treat at Towne Centre  (Saturday, 10/31, 12-4 p.m., $10 to register your pet) in Mt. Pleasant is a great place participate in the Annual Pet Costume Contest benefiting Pet Helpers- and the kids can trick or treat through the center.

For Adults:

Black Cat Halloween Dance (Saturday, 10/31, 6-11 p.m., $5) Join the Charleston Swing Dance Association for a night of costumes, dancing, and donations to help Pet Helpers at the Knights of Columbus located at 143 Calhoun Street.

Taco Boy Halloween Party (Saturday, 10/31, 6 p.m., $5) in our opinion, has one of the best group costume contests in town. (Side note: Emily and a group of friends won the group contest last year!)

Last year's Taco Boy Group Costume Winners (Photo: Taco Boy Facebook)

Last year's Taco Boy Group Costume Winners (Photo: Taco Boy Facebook)

The Charleston Symphony Orchestra presents Frankenstein Live (Friday, 10/30, 7:30 p.m., Prices vary), a night of fright with the 1931 classic Frankenstein movie with orchestral accompaniment featuring an all new score.

Ohm Radio's Halloween Fest (Saturday, 10/31, 12:30 p.m., Prices vary) will feature an entire day of live music to benefit Charleston's non-profit, commercial free radio station, hosted at Palmetto Brewery.

The Coastal Carolina Fair (10/29- 11/8) is also a great way to spend All Hallow's Eve!

There are plenty more happenings than even we could list; check out these links to other useful resources:

Bonus Halloween Treat:
We're happy to announce that the Lowcountry Love Letters family is growing and that loyal pup, Tater Wicke is going to be a big brother. The Wicke's are expecting the arrival of a Baby Girl in Spring 2016!


Lowcountry Beer is Here

The Lowcountry is certainly known for it's food, but have you heard about it's beer? Today's post is crafted (get it?) by my husband, Trevor, who among all of our friends, family, and co-workers is known to be incredibly enthusiastic about craft and homebrew beer.

Trevor:

Well, this is exciting. My wonderful wife Emily may tire of beer talk in our home or on our dog walks, but I’m in the driver’s seat now and man do I have a lot to share. Now, there’s nothing she can do, but proofread!

Beer is so popular in Charleston, it happens to have a whole week dedicated to the craft. Charleston Beer Week takes place every September, so mark your calendars for next year. Their team + sponsors put on a great group of events every year from beer dinners to tap takeovers to pairings to rare beer events to firkin fests. But, fret not, Charleston Beer is here - year round!

Below is a quick rundown of the Charleston area breweries. If you don’t already, FOLLOW EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM ON INSTAGRAM AND/OR FACEBOOK. It’s the best way to keep up to date on their offerings, events, and other fun stuff! 

Coast (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Nestled between Noisette Creek, Cooper River, and Park Circle. Hit them up for a pint after a round of disc golf 3 days a week and don’t forget they host Brewvival, a beer lover's tasting dream, held every February.


Holy City (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
A pub feel in an outdoor setting is open 7 days a week plus house brunch, lunch, and dinner. Bring the dog and relax with a pint or show up for one of their events like the 3rd Annual King of Pops Great Charleston Pop-Off or Bendy Brewski Yoga


Freehouse (Website, Facebook, InstagramTwitter)
Right around the corner from Holy City, Freehouse is tucked in on the Ashely River. Enjoy fresh beer, food trucks, and views from the deck or marshside 5 days a week.


Frothy Beard (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Known for their wacky beers and events, don’t wait till this nano hosts XTreme Pro Wrestling or Pop-Up Ramen. Head towards Ashley Phosphate now, where “great beards drink alike” 5 days a week.

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Westbrook (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Off of Long Point Road, in Mt. Pleasant, their modern tasting room looks and feels shiny. Christophe Chocolatier and beer pairing events are sure to impress your special someone (this where I happened to take Emily for our first Valentine's Day).


Palmetto (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Just off the Ravenel Bridge on Huger Street, downtown, their recently redone tasting room is open 5 days a week and features Loading Dock concert + food truck every Friday night.


Revelry (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Just across the street from One Cool Blow, on Conroy Street, you can eyeball their fermenters up close or grab a seat outside. Food offered 7 days a week in house or via truck. 


Oak Road ( Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Serving the Flowertown area from Historic Downtown Summerville. Ogle at their home made 1 barrel brew system, catch some football (or futbol), and food trucks Thursday - Saturday.


Tradesman (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Representing James Island, they usually have 2 floors worth of beer enjoyment facilities, but the recent weather has decomissioned the 1st floor. Head up the side stairs 5 days a week for a "well built" pint.

If you like killing multiple birds with a single stone, check out Charleston Brews Cruise tours offered 5 days a week.

Don’t forget the brewpubs:
Southend (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Casual dining with the prettiest Lowcountry brewhouse, in my opinion. It’s vertical and encased in glass! Easily combined with a walk around Historic Charleston, including but not limited to Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, and the Battery.


Edmund's Oast (Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
Snag a reservation inside for an elevated food and beer experience. With good weather, grab a drink inside or out, plop down outside at communal tables, and enjoy the air.

Final Notes
Support our local brewers and if you dare, get inspired to brew your own! I’m a member of Lowcountry Libations and we welcome all brewers old and new. To get you started on your first batch (or 400th) check out Yeast Everything Homebrew Store and Beer Engineer Supply Store.

Lowcountry beer is here!

*Bonus*

Emily:

This week happens to mark one year of marriage for the two of us and I can say there's no one else is this world I'd rather stand side by side taste testing all of these local brews with than you, Trev.

Autism & Special Needs Resources in the Lowcountry

Today's post is written by Sarah Fitzellen, my best friend of over 30 years. When I moved to the Lowcountry in 2010, Sarah had just had her second son, and my second Godson. Through the years of being in different cities, we traveled back and forth, made numerous phone calls, and checked on the invention of teleportation on a daily basis. Last year, my dreams came true and Sarah moved to the Lowcountry. Read below for her excellent reasoning. This woman deserves Mother of the Year, every year.

Sarah:

I moved to the Lowcountry in May 2014, to give both of my children opportunities I could never imagine existed in the small city we’d left in Southwest Virginia. In particular, I was looking for better special needs services for my oldest son, Jesse, who has high functioning Autism. Here are some of the things I have come to find amazing and truly love about the special needs services for a child with Autism (or other special needs) in the Lowcountry.  

Amazing Public Schools
Charleston County School District (CCSD) has been good to my family. We were blessed to move to the Mount Pleasant, SC, area which has very highly rated schools. I have found a welcome and wonderful educational system within the department of “exceptional children” at CCSD with a phenomenal program of dedicated resource teachers, support staff and principals who are willing to listen and help each individual child. I have always felt “in touch” with my son’s team and I know exactly what is going on. My voice is heard and I am as much an integral part of his education as any other. With the help of his 7th grade resource teacher, my son is now independent in all of his classes and is thriving. I feel incredibly grateful every day for each of his teachers and other staff members who are making my son a successful student and human for this world. I could not do it without them. 

As a note, I also hear fantastic things about many of the private schools in this area and many of Jesse’s peers attend Trident Academy and Bishop England High School. As parents in the Lowcountry, we are lucky to have choices for our children.

Special Services
When we moved, my greatest hope was that my son could have some services that we had not had available where we previously lived. And I was happily surprised at the variety of services available in the Lowcountry that we had not previously tried before. Of course, there is physical, speech and occupational therapy (and at many locations in every neighborhood, all over Charleston and beyond), but now we suddenly had the opportunity for Social Skills groups, like the one that Jesse attended through Project Rex at MUSC and is now attending at the Early Autism Project here in Mount Pleasant. Also, when we first moved here, we were disappointed to find out that ABA Therapy (Applied Behavior Analysis) was only offered to children under 11 in SC, but, last year in February, the law changed and Medicaid must cover all children for ABA Therapy up to age 21. My child will also be receiving this service for the first time. This seems like a HUGE triumph for us, as he was initially referred for behavior therapy when he was 8 years old and there were no providers in the Southwest Virginia area. He has waited 7 years to get this service that he has deserved and needed desperately. We can’t wait to start this therapy through the Early Autism Project in Mount Pleasant this month.

Support
One of the greatest resources that I have found for me, as a parent of a child with autism, is a support group (I didn’t have to create on my own!) sponsored by EAP (Early Autism Project). Every Second Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. they host a support group at their Mount Pleasant branch which is fantastic. Every month they have a different speaker come in and talk to the group about different services available in our area. We have had speakers from the Charleston Autism Society, Lowcountry Autism Foundation, Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) assistance, etc. Without this help and support, none of what I have been able to do would have been possible. 

Activities
Since moving, we have tried to take advantage of any and every activity that comes up that we didn’t have before. Last January, my son got involved with the Mount Pleasant Parks and Recreation Department and the Unified Sports that they offer. Unified Sports are linked with Special Olympics. Shelli Davis is the director here in Mount Pleasant and does a fantastic job. In January, Jesse joined the Piranhas swim team and in May swam in the Summer Games of the Special Olympics, which was an amazing experience. He has also played basketball, softball, kickball and is currently playing soccer through the Unified Sports leagues. Additionally, Jesse enjoyed a golf clinic this summer through Lowcountry Autism Foundation which was a free clinic at Patriot's Point. 

Moving Forward
Lastly, there is so much science and innovation around us in the Lowcountry. There are many doctors and scientists wanting to understand the 'why' of Autism and wanting to make sure we make our kids feel whole in this world. Every September, the Lowcountry Autism Consortium has the world's largest FREE autism conference. I attended this conference a few weeks ago and was blown away. Look it up and plan to attend next year. Again, it’s free, but the wisdom you gain is worth more than gold. 

For more information:
http://www.lafinc.org/
http://lowcountryautismconsortium.org/
http://earlyautismproject.com/
http://www.ccsdschools.com/Academic/ExceptionalChildren/index.php
http://www.projectrex.org/

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.

Boone Hall: Through the Seasons

One of my favorite parts about living in Mt. Pleasant is the proximity to Boone Hall. No matter the time of year, their plantation and farm always have something going on for families, foodies, and fun. Today, I'm going to focus on my favorites from the seasons:

FALL
The secret is out; the Lowcountry serves up the best weather in the fall months. Well, temperatures, at least. As a Lowcountry resident, the majority of us own rain boots for fall and spring endeavors. This past weekend, Boone Hall Plantation hosted Southern Living's Taste of Charleston. The event, now hosted for 35 years, featured 50 of the Lowcountry’sfavorite casual and fine dining restaurants serving sample size portions, plus beer and wine. In true Charleston fashion, the proceeds benefitted several local charities. Miss out this year? The Greater Charleston Restaurant Association has another event you might be interested in coming up in the winter. 

To get in the true autumn spirit, Boone Hall also hosts a pumpkin patch, the entire month of October. There are lots of activities for the kids, from a corn maze, to a rock climbing wall and hayrides. If you're looking for something to add to the Halloween spirit, you'll want to check out Fright Nights. With four 'terrifying attractions', you're sure to get your share of zombies and strobe lights.

WINTER
One would think that the Lowcountry would slow down in the winter months. Not so, as the calendar of events show for Boone Hall during the winter months. My personal favorite of all the seasons is the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, in January. Basically, this is the world's largest oyster festival that serves up 80,000 pounds of oysters, along with other tasty delights and libations. You guessed it, this event also benefits local charities

Before the oysters, is A Lowcountry Christmas, where you can visit Santa's Castle and Christmas Town after taking a holiday hayride. This time of year is also when it's hard to leave the safety of your own, warm home with temperatures falling into the low 40s (Listen, my blood has thinned since moving from the mountains). So, it makes a great time to run out to the Boone Hall Store for your fruits, veggies, and prepared dishes. I promise, I've never tried to pass off their spinach and artichoke dip as my own.

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SPRING
The oyster festival may be my favorite event held at Boone Hall, but my favorite service their farm offers is their Spring Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). By signing up for a CSA (and there are many CSA options in the Lowcountry) you're buying local, seasonal produce directly from the farmer by purchasing a share of the farm. Sign-up is required well in advance, so being added to their mailing list is the way to stay on top of getting your weekly fill of basket goodies.

Another benefit of their farm during this season are the strawberries! The Lowcountry Strawberry Festival, in April, hosts more family fun with over 30 attractions and rides. Looking for a way to get your run on? The Rugged Maniac, in March, is packed with 25 obstacles that are sure to get your heart rate going and your entire body dirty.

SUMMER
We may be perspiring (ahem, glistening) through the Lowcountry summers, but that doesn't mean we slow down. Boone Hall hosts weddings and music events all summer. It just so happens the actress, Blake Lively AND one of my good friends got married there. Their cotton dock and row of oaks make for a perfect, romantic backdrop. Just a few years ago, I spent a hot July night on their lawn with my parents, KC and the Sunshine Band, and The Village People.

Last but not least, the summer brings the best peaches you'll ever eat. From Mid-May to August, you can visit the farm for U-Pick or stop by their store for a basket. They move pretty quickly in my house, so we visit the store a couple of times a week during those months. Other farm specials are updated frequently on this site.

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To really keep up with all Boone Hall has going on, their Facebook is updated pretty regularly and has tons of photos.

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Did you miss us last week? Well, we sure missed you. We spent Monday-Friday in a continuing education class and didn't take one nap! All the better to serve your Lowcountry home searching needs, friends.

The Lowcountry Artist Market

Approximately five years ago our friend, Kristen Gastaldo, started something amazing in the Lowcountry. At the time, she was General Manager at the Music Farm which on a Thursday night might have been rocking with Trombone Shorty, but Sunday hosted St. Andrews City Church. So, why couldn't Saturday afternoon host a local market for artisans? Kristen's idea was realized with the Lowcountry Artist Market and went on to produce 13 markets at the Music Farm since 2010.

With Kristen now living in the UK, she decided to hand the Lowcountry Artist Market over to us to help continue the great resource she started for local artisans and crafters.  For our first endeavor, we've teamed up with Lowcountry Local First for the Buy Local Block Party to be held on Saturday, November 21. We'll share another post closer to the market date, but we wanted to shout it from the rooftops that the Lowcountry Artist Market is back and ready to fulfill your local shopping needs just before the holidays! We look forward to more dates in 2016 and continuing to support the 'Buy Local' movement.

Vendors interested in applying to share their craft at the Buy Local Party can apply here. All goods must be handmade or vintage. 

Contact LAM:
hello@lowcountryartistmarket.com
Facebook
Twitter
InstaGram

Past market finds and photos:

@spacecraftstudios

@finktoys

@runaroundsuevtg

@laurenamosdesigns

@ksolecki


Charleston Junior Woman's Club

The Lowcountry is known for it's scenic views, history, food, and more, but do you know about it's propensity to give back? Today, Janeen Vosseller and Frances Deschenes talk to us about how joining a civic organization changed their lives for the better and how you can get involved in helping your own community- all while making new friends.

Janeen:
As a College of Charleston student, turned full-time Lowcountry resident, my closest friends here were from my college days. However, after graduation those close friends one by one all moved throughout the country for amazing, new opportunities. I remained in the Lowcountry with the perfect job and a wonderful boyfriend, but no particularly, close friends. I decided to turn to a civic organization to help me get out there and make new friends. The Lowcountry offers a plethora of activities and clubs that anyone can participate in, but with a heavy work load six months out of the year and not liking any activity that involves a ball or frisbee being thrown at me, which to join? I sought out my mom for advice and she suggested what she did at my age: the Junior Woman’s Club. I decided, "Why not?". At the very least, I'd end up volunteering for a few charities that support our community. Luckily for me, I knew someone who was in the club already, so I reached out to her about information on Charleston’s chapter. The response back was nothing but praise and encouragement to join. From my first volunteer event, I knew I had made the right decision. This club is made up of ladies who want to help their community become a better place, while opening up a window to meeting new people. The members are a wonderful representation of Charleston; women who are from Charleston and out-of-state, work in all different industries from health to education to business, and in all different stages of life. Everyone is ready to welcome you to the club and treat you like a friend. Bonds are made quickly in the club, while you are getting your hands dirty and stepping outside your comfort zone at volunteer events. The social events where we catch up are just the cherry on top of it all. The Junior Woman’s Club is a wonderful club where life-long bonds are forged while making the Lowcountry community a better place.

About Janeen:
Janeen is an audit associate at Johnson Lambert, LLP in downtown Charleston. She is originally from Cranford, NJ, but now resides in Mt. Pleasant where she enjoys exploring the local parks with her dog Dori and grilling out with her boyfriend, Michael.

Janeen with her boyfriend, Michael, and their dog Dori

Janeen with her boyfriend, Michael, and their dog Dori

 

Frances:
For the past five years of living in the Lowcountry, I have seen it receive many accolades; from the top travel destination in the world to friendliest city in the U.S. There is one other title the Lowcountry deserves to be acknowledged for, and that is being the most GIVING. Maybe I never noticed it until the summer of last year, but the people of Charleston come from a giving culture. Last year, I needed a change. I had a sports injury involving my ACL and couldn't participate in the athletic and active things that I had grown accustomed to doing here in the Lowcountry. Luckily for me, a last minute invite to a charity event opened my eyes to a group of women that I would not ever be able to replace. I joined the Charleston Junior Women’s Club after only meeting 2 members.  Their willingness to give back to their community and amazing personalities led me to attend a member meeting at the Main Library, a decision that I am glad I made. In that year, I have seen these amazing women volunteer at Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Race for a Cure, Florence Crittenton Programs of SC, and multiple occasions for the PlayToday Foundation.  Although the main focus of the group is to give back to the community, they also know how to have a good time and bring the best out of everyone they interact with. Through social events on the Palmetto Breeze, to happy hour at Taco Boy, and the occasional Cypress burger night after our monthly meeting, these women truly invest in each other and the community.  I loved being a part of this group so much that I encouraged two other close friends to join with me. I have grown and changed for the better thanks to these ladies and am excited to go into this new club year as a board member.

About Frances:
Frances is a Corporate Sales Manager at the DoubleTree Charleston Airport. Originally from Charlotte, NC,  she has lived in Charleston for 5 years. She can be found Sunday's during the fall cheering on her beloved Carolina Panthers with friends. 

Frances and her boyfriend Steven

Frances and her boyfriend Steven

About the Charleston Junior Woman's Club:
The Charleston Junior Woman's Club (CJWC) is a civic, nonprofit organization, founded in 1966. All members of CJWC are united by dedication to community improvement through volunteerism. The CJWC leadership stresses community involvement among its members, who in turn donate their time and talent to numerous organizations. 

Frances and Janeen volunteering at Lowcountry Orphan Relief

Frances and Janeen volunteering at Lowcountry Orphan Relief

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Charleston Junior Women's Club, visit the membership page or email info@cjwc.org.

Bonus:

Janeen beating Frances out for the bouquet toss at Emily's wedding (Photo: DreamPop Media)

Janeen beating Frances out for the bouquet toss at Emily's wedding (Photo: DreamPop Media)



An Ode to Lowcountry Brunch

Yesterday morning, as I was sitting at the Dunes studio watching all the lovely people walk down King Street, (really though, I want to run after at least half of you asking you where you bought that dress), my stomach started grumbling just thinking of all the places they might be heading to chow down for brunch. Kitchen 208, The Macintosh, HoM, Hall's Chophouse, Hominy Grill,  Prohibition- and those are just some of the spots within walking distance of here. So, I put on the Pandora brunch playlist and began to reminisce on the brunches past:

Prohibition
While I love a good brunch downtown, I'm not always in the mood to wait (read: hangry). My first experience at Prohibition's brunch was A+. We were seated immediately at an outdoor table with amazing ambiance, the server was on top of everything, and the food was delish. We tried the Huevos Rancheros, Duck Hash, and may have had a carafe or two of mimosas. You could practically spend the day here, refilling those carafes, catching up with friends, and keeping silly Monday off your brain.

Water's Edge
Did someone say buffet and bloody mary bar? If you're into watching dolphins frolic in Shem Creek while you're dining, then this is your spot. My favorite memory here was a warm day in December, sitting outside with my husband, while we took turns filling our plates up and discussing how lucky we felt to be living this life together. While most places open their doors around 11am, Water's Edge is open at 10am, ready to work on your fresh omelet, made to order.

My husband, Trevor, dolphin watching on Shem Creek.

My husband, Trevor, dolphin watching on Shem Creek.

 

Moe's Crosstown
Feeling a little rough from last night's fun? Well, I've got the perfect place to heal you- and don't worry about dressing up or bright lights- jeans and a t-shirt are accepted and it's as dark inside as it was when you got home last night. With pancake specials that change every week (I'll never forget you Cinnamon Toast Crunch special) and the Kitchen Sink that covers every item you would ever want for brunch as one menu item, Moe's will please everyone. Get there when the doors open and have your whole party ready to be seated. This place fills up fast.

The Granary
Yes, I believe I'll have the Duck & Waffles, please and thank you, sir. A new take on traditional brunch menus, where there's easy parking, reservations available, and a slew of options that will certainly make your mouth water. Upon one visit, my family ordered several plates, sharing everything from Pork Belly Biscuits & Gravy to Nutella Waffles. Bonus: My nephew was less than a year old at the time, and it was very kid friendly.

My adorable, toothless, nephew, Daemon, considering his brunch options.

My adorable, toothless, nephew, Daemon, considering his brunch options.

 

Triangle
Anyone who knows me has probably been reading this post up to this point and thought, "Where is Triangle?!" Saved the best for last, y'all. We were drawn in by the $1 mimosas and kept coming back for the cheese grits, speciality omelets, and the warmness of their staff to seat all 8...12... 20 of us. Over the past five years, I can't tell you how many times I've eaten here for brunch, but I can at least try to touch on how many memories I've shared at the Mt. Pleasant location with friends and family: My friend's kids have grown up here. We've celebrated birthdays and engagements. We've said hello to Darius. We've broken a few glasses (sorry, Melissa!). But, most of all we've had a place to go when we needed a space to laugh loudly and enjoy our Sundays as the family we've so fortunately formed through the years.

Hannah, Kristen, Hadley, Avery, Emily, Oren, Brooklyn, and Trevor enjoying Triangle before a Sunday trip to the beach.

Hannah, Kristen, Hadley, Avery, Emily, Oren, Brooklyn, and Trevor enjoying Triangle before a Sunday trip to the beach.

 

Did I even really know what brunch was before I moved here? Do other cities embrace brunch with such gumption? We're so fortunate to have all these amazing offerings and more to enjoy every Sunday. Brunch, I love you. See you next week.

 

Featured Studio Artist: Mark Swick

Lowcountry photographer Mark Swick presents his first solo show comprising landscape and architectural photography of the Lowcountry, on display for purchase at the Real Estate Studio, 214 King Street, from June 18th through July 28th. See below for a note from Mark about his love for the Lowcountry and his top 3 favorite spots to photograph:

After three short years, I’m still entranced by Charleston’s various neighborhoods and architecture. I love being a part of this city; photographing Charleston's landscapes and incredible architecture and sharing those with others all over the world is my small contribution to what makes the Lowcountry so great. If I had to pick three spots, I would lead off generally with anywhere South of Broad, which I can't seem to explore enough. My girlfriend and I live downtown and are avid bikers, so we meander and find new things all of the time. Another fantastic spot that I can't seem to get enough of is Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The wildlife and scenery are a photographers dream. A third spot I often end up at is Brittlebank Park, which is both close to home (and The Joe!), and offers stunning sunset views over the Ashley River. Of course, Lowcountry photography can't be pinned down to one spot, or even three. Photo opportunities are everywhere! 

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Bio:
A native of Bethesda, MD and graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, Mark Swick moved to the Lowcountry in 2012 to work in programming and development for the College of Charleston. Upon moving to Charleston, he was immediately struck by the area's natural beauty and historic architecture, which quickly became the focus of his photography. An avid user of the online photo-sharing social network Instagram, Mark was the driving force and co-curator of Charleston's first Instagallery (#CHSInstaGallery), a collaboration of local photographers on display at the Real Estate Studio in the Spring of 2014. Mark is also the organizer of InstameetCHS: a low-key opportunity for photographers and Instagram users of all backgrounds to come together, tour and photograph a neighborhood or predetermined location around Charleston, and get to know one another. Seven InstameetCHS events have occurred since the inaugural event in February 2013. All are welcome to join. 

More work from the artist can be found at www.markswick.commnswick.tumblr.com, or on Instagram at @mnswick.

Angela, Mark and Emily at the Dunes Studio reception  

Angela, Mark and Emily at the Dunes Studio reception  

A Love Letter from Michel Hammes

Dear Lowcountry,

I love your lowlands surrounded by tidal creeks and marshes. I grew up swimming endless hours in the creeks of Mt. Pleasant and searching for seashells at low tide on the beaches. Although I cannot purchase places similar to my childhood home, I found the perfect 1940's restored cottage in Park Circle, North Charleston. We can easily walk to the river, to the neighborhood park we all call "the Duck Pond" or bike to Riverfront Park. Often we make our way down E. Montague - our area's main street - to sit outside and drink a pint or order a pistachio pesto pizza from Evo Pizzeria. When we do drive, we are so close to everywhere- 15 minutes to downtown for a nice dinner and walk along the Battery, 20 minutes to the Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island and 10 minutes to Charles Towne Landing State Park where you can see an array of wildlife and scenic views on your hike. And when we don't wish to venture far form home, we sit on the porch and visit with neighbors or watch birds and butterflies in our flower beds. Life is good in the Lowcountry. You will always be my home. 

With love,
Michel

Bio:
Michel Hammes is a professional book peddler and is happily married. She and her husband Cary Jones have two dogs and two cats tho Michel would like to have a yard full of cats and is very put out that her husband has not warmed to the idea. She is finally going to Botswana, Africa next year to see elephants, lions and hippos in the wild. If she gets eaten, she said to not be sad- it was a good way to go...although she hopes it is fast. 

Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing

Michel and her husband Cary at the Park Circle Duck Pond

Michel and her husband Cary at the Park Circle Duck Pond

Charleston Strong

Our beloved city experienced a heartbreaking tragedy last week. Today, we would like to share with you the way our community and beyond chose love to support one another:

Church Bells Rang Across the Country on Sunday
20,000 People Built a Unity Bridge for Peace
Carolina Panthers, Boeing, and Others Donated to Mother Emanuel Hope Fund
Charleston Restaurants and Bars Donated Percent of Sales to Mother Emanuel Hope Fund
Neighbors Wrap Blue Ribbons Around Trees

For more: #PrayforCharleston, #CharlestonStrong, #IamAME, #Charlestrong, #CharlestonUnited, #ChsLove#CharlestonUnityChain

Marcus Amaker, Twitter, June 18, 2015:
"an act against one of us is an act against all of us. come together for our commUNITY and shift your focus from division"

Courtesy: Y'Allsome Goods

Courtesy: Y'Allsome Goods


A Love Letter from Amy Romanczuk

Dear Lowcountry,

I came to you determined not to love you, those many years ago. I accompanied my parents on a visit to Charleston, where my father was a candidate for a prestigious position at the Medical University. They were wined, they were dined; I was thrown collectively to the wolves known as the children of the faculty entertaining my parents. At least, that's how I saw it. I was the girl from off, (and from a northern "off" at that), injected into the adolescent South of Broad social scene at the insistence of parents.  Sitting on the side piazza, the balmy night air was a far cry from the air back home, frigid with the coming of winter. I don't know whether it was the cadence of the talk around me, or the scents of unfamiliar blossoms and sea tinged air that recalled joyful vacation days, but my heart softened. As the gathering shifted to another home, I got a guided tour of a small corner of the city. The cobbled stones of Church Street and the little beach revealed by the Ashley River at low tide enchanted me, though I confess, I don't recall the name of the boy that walked with me. When we flew back to winter and my old life, the scents and sights of Charleston clung to me, and have never let go.

It was here I learned to lure a crab from the creek behind our home into the cooking pot, to cast a shrimp net, marvel at the moods of the wetlands that embrace the coast. Here, I learned that a palmetto is a thing of pride, and definitely not a palm tree; how to tell a white heron from an snowy egret, and what a joggling board is. I became a girl of the beaches: Folly, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms: each had a separate joy and beauty. I memorized which house along Murray Blvd you pointed the bow of a boat toward if you were crossing the Ashley by water from James Island to the peninsula. I learned that pluff mud can get on your clothes, between your toes, and its distinct smell in your nose, but also in your soul. I lingered in Shell House at Ashley Hall, with my friends, girls who became women I still delight in being with and cherish as friends. 

I left you, Lowcountry, for my studies at several universities and to travel the world, but when I decided to find a spot to call home as a young adult, out on my own, it was Charleston that again called me. I was welcomed back; the fathers of friends I knew in high school were now the physicians I worked with as I embarked on my nursing career. Their generosity giving supplies, medicines, and money to a small medical clinic in rural India where I spent a summer as a volunteer still warms my heart. And when I came back from that trip, and met the man of my dreams, I remember how several of these same physicians insisted on vetting him, since my own daddy had passed on.

Charleston was the city of our courtship and though I left you again to gather a graduate degree, we came back here to raise our family. Charleston embraced the return, and adopted daughter and the man from off, that she loved. We introduced our son to the beauties of Lowcountry living. His eyes would light up in wonder at the glory of the ACE basin from canoe, or the mysteries of Four Hole Swamp. Together, we would watch from the porch as thunderheads rolled across the sky, "better even than television", he once declared, and he was right. Our home in the historic district was our haven, a multigenerational family, for my mother came to live with us, and my siblings would tumble in for extended visits.

It was here that I found my stride as a pediatric clinical nurse specialist. When I developed an illness that nearly killed me, and forced me to give up my practice, it was in the arms of the Lowcountry, amidst the live oaks and wildlife, that I was able to find a balance.  Now in a stable health state, and able to be more active, I've tried to give back in the ways I can. My love of books and reading has lead me to volunteerism at school libraries, at Charleston Country Public Library, Charleston Library Society, Trident Literacy Association, and spreading free books via BookCrossing. I like to "live local" supporting the craftsmen and women of the Lowcountry. I've learned the names of the farmers whose bounty fills our bellies and the artists and artisans whose works grace our home, the coffee roasters and chefs whose establishments are the spots I take visitors to for refreshment. I have my favorite spots to show off on a tour of the city, some of which, like the Unitarian Church graveyard, I recently learned that our son, living now on the other coast, recommends to people he knows who visit Charleston. (Second generation pride makes me smile.) Here my heart dances and my soul sings, each to many different tunes and melodies, as different as a sassy salsa to a Mozart motet. As I move into another phase of life, as an artist, I even know the names of the hens whose eggs I use to create pysanky (Ukrainian style eggs). 

Ah Lowcountry, thank you.  Our romance has lasted nearly 45 years, and will go on until my last breath. You may not be the land of my birth, but you are the land of my heart.

Bio:
Amy Romanczuk is an artist and book aficionado living in Charleston, SC. She is self-taught pysanky artist of Ukrainian heritage. Several of her original design pysanky were accepted into the collection of Kolomyia Museum of Hutsul Folk Art (Kolomyiskyi muzei narodnoho mystetstva Hutsulshchyny), as representational from artists outside Ukraine. She has taken the designs and details of her craft into 2D art, using pysanky symbols in pen and inks, and paintings. She has been writing pysanky since 1996.

Some of Amy's custom pysanky creations

Some of Amy's custom pysanky creations


Water Taxi Bridge Detour

Last night, I attended the Spoleto Finale at Middleton Place with some friends and colleagues. We had perfect weather, good tunes, lots of food, and man oh man, the views. Spoleto brings so much culture and entertainment to the Lowcountry every year and every year that I've lived here, I've been fortunate enough to attend at least a couple of events. Old Crow Medicine Show, Sarah Jarosz, Mavis Staples, lots of Chamber Music, and let us not forget the time my husband played in the orchestra for the raved about Piccolo event, Slammergirls.

Many people travel to Charleston for the Spoleto Festival and my father-in-law and his mother are no exception. When they were in town week before last, we had tickets to join them for the orchestra. My husband and I decided to make a date night of it and meet for dinner downtown at Minero beforehand. He works downtown and I had a home inspection in Mt. Pleasant, so I'd just head that way after I was done. Sounds simple, right?

Well, here comes a bridge problem.

Oh, peninsula life. You're so beautiful, yet so limited when the Cooper River Bridge shuts down. Madness ensues. People leave work, hop on the alternate routes, and then we all come to a big stand-still. Break out the picnic baskets, we're going to be here a while.

Until you realize one of the alternate routes is a water taxi. Wait, what? Yes, that's right. We have a boat that goes from Mt. Pleasant to downtown (and vice versa) several times a day for the low cost of $10 unlimited all day or $6 one way. All you have to do is get your car to the bottom of the bridge. So myself and a good mix of locals and tourists all took a 5 p.m. ride across the harbor, pleasantly chatting the entire way. Everyone was calm, happy to be on a boat, and enjoying the views. "Why don't we do this more often?", everyone was asking. When I got off the water taxi downtown, I ran into a friend going the other way. She was also happy to be getting home via boat in an otherwise dire situation. I was downtown and I was ready for my dinner date and the orchestra with my family.

That day, the one where it took me an hour and a half earlier in the day to get from downtown to my home inspection in Mt. Pleasant? Where thousands of people sat in traffic for hours? Where our local heroes spent hours cleaning up an oil spill (that was luckily successful and no one was injured)? Well it ended up being a really great day. All thanks to the staff at the water taxi, the friends I made on the boat, and the beautiful views our city has to offer. Every now and then, don't forget to catch your breath, take your time, and appreciate the journey you're taking to get to where you want to be.

Did I mention the local news did a story on all of those smart people joining me on the water taxi? 

My view from the water taxi

My view from the water taxi