Being a Mentor


In the late summer of 2012, a friend sent me a website she was working on. "Would you mind checking out the links and seeing if they work?". Taking a break from my regular day, I perused the site, clicked on links, and ended up on the 'Volunteering' page. In my years working full-time for a non-profit in the Lowcountry, I had yet to find my own personal volunteering niche outside of the paid days. Before my move to Charleston, from my hometown of Bristol, VA/TN, I had been active on the YWCA Junior Board and the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance Board (which is doing big things today!). Shortly after clicking on the 'Volunteering' page, I had filled out a mentor application, sent it in, and was contacted immediately about connecting with a student. That fall, I met Ashlyn. 

One of our first outings; seeing Annie at the Dock Street Theatre

One of our first outings; seeing Annie at the Dock Street Theatre

Mentoring for the first time is pretty much how you'd imagine it to be. It's like your first day of school, only you're an adult and nervous to meet a kindergartner. Will she think I'm cool? Will we connect? What will we talk about? And yes, even our connection, as strong as it is now, took time. We started off coloring a lunch bag that I still bring every week after four years together. Sometimes, I'd bring my Kindle and she'd play a game on it. After time, though, our time together was effortless. Catching up on what we'd done in the past week, what was coming up, and a few bouts on the playground. Today, we still have lunch together once a week, but a couple of years ago, we started running 5K's together and this year, she started playing lacrosse games that I attend. Her school, Meeting Street Academy, always has some great extra events to attend, as well. Week before last, we were sweating it out at a kickball game over lunch.

Born to play lacrosse

Born to play lacrosse

And run! Our first 5K together this year

And run! Our first 5K together this year

Mentoring in the Lowcountry is a popular volunteer option, as it fits well into schedules of most 9-to-5ers and weekend/evening warriors. The non-profit, Be A Mentor, oversees most of the mentoring programs and provides resources to volunteers throughout the year, as well as social hours and a mentor appreciation dinner every year. In my three years attending the Be A Mentor dinner, they've always featured a strong mentor/mentee team to speak at the dinner. This year, Ashlyn and I were picked to present. We prepared by having a BAM staff member come to our regularly scheduled lunch to throw some practice questions our way. Ashlyn, ever the performer, answered the questions with ease and was ready for our time in front of the crowd. We were so excited to present that evening. She had me beaming the entire time (photographic evidence) and even caught me off guard for a moment, when she mentioned to the entire dinner that her favorite memory from our time together was when I told her I was having a baby. Well, that's one way to break the news! 

Ashlyn and I with her supportive parents and sister, shortly after she announced to a room full of people that I was expecting

Ashlyn and I with her supportive parents and sister, shortly after she announced to a room full of people that I was expecting

As Ashlyn and I prepare for another summer apart, and letter writing ahead, I reflect on this past year of her growth- our growth as friends. Fourth grade is coming in fast, but like I told her under my breath at the dinner, we'll be friends for decades to come. My wish for her, as I'm sure is the same for many mentors, is that I impact her life in a strong, positive way. That the years ahead might not be so difficult as a teen because she has me to talk to about the trials. That her multiplication tables were a little easier because I sympathized with the fact that 3's were hard for me, too. That being a strong, smart woman is a positive attribute and not something she should shy away from.

My beautiful girl- inside and out

My beautiful girl- inside and out

Thirty minutes a week. That's the time commitment this volunteer opportunity required from me in the beginning. Which is why I encourage each of you to think about the impact you're making in your community and where you'd like to lend an extra hand. Maybe it's not mentoring, but gardening, coaching, or teaching a skill. Any way you look at it, giving makes you feel good. Check out these links below from our most recent weekly staff email:

What volunteer activities do you enjoy? We're looking for a community group project for the Studio team to take part in, so leave your ideas below!

Being silly... as we do

Being silly... as we do

A Love Letter from Kristen Cobb


In May 2008, my then boyfriend (now my ride or die, hubby, Walker) and I graduated from the fabulous, beautiful College of Charleston and packed up his 1997 Tacoma truck with a suitcase full of clothes, climbing and Ultimate Frisbee gear and our 2 fur babies to head out West. Charleston had been good to us, but we had the itch for travel and adventures. Little did we know how this big adventure would drastically change our lives. After 3 months of living the dream of climbing, playing Ultimate every day, and hiking I had this feeling that I needed to take a test to determine our next move. This test: First Response. And as soon as those two little lines appeared, our lives were positively changed forever. Two, wild at heart, hippies, that couldn't seem to keep a plant alive for more than 2 days, were going to be parents. Excuse me, what? Now instead of deciding of what sick, new mountain to climb or what Ultimate tournament to go to we had to decide on the best place to raise our “Cobblet” (as we came to call her); Boulder or Charleston. It did not take more than 10 minutes before we looked at each other and said in unison, "Charleston". Walker's mom and our amazing college friends lived in Charleston and my family was only 3 hours away in Charlotte. Growing up, we both loved the idea of living at the beach. Fast forward 8 years, with another beautiful Cobblet added to our line-up, and hundreds of life experiences under our belt, we know we made the right decision. Charleston is simply the best place to start and raise a family. Not only is it a beautiful place to live, but this city is more than that, it is a community that loves and supports each other. 

Walker and Kristen, being fancy at a wedding last year

Walker and Kristen, being fancy at a wedding last year

Our Cobblets, 2 beautiful girls, Brooklyn (7) and Hadley (almost 6), are perhaps the luckiest and most loved children in Charleston, better yet, the world. My girls have the best family and extended family one could ask for (Charleston Ultimate Frisbee community). Not only do these girls have an awesome support system but they live in a city with a different beach to choose from every weekend day and endless activities to keep their minds growing. Some of our favorites:

These girls have not 1, but 3 beaches within 15 miles of their backyard. Our favorite beach is Sullivan's Island. Sullivan's Island is also where Walker and I said “I do” in front of mating dolphins (sound clip here), family, and friends. Perhaps our favorite part of Sullivan’s is Station 30. This is where my girls first felt sand in their toes, got taken out by their first wave, picked up jellyfish, and practiced their swimming.

Babies at the beach

Babies at the beach

Cobblets after a day on Sullivan's Island

Cobblets after a day on Sullivan's Island

Aside from the beaches, Charleston has many museums, plantations, parks and tours to educate and entertain your children. From Magnolia Plantation to Charlestowne Landing to McLeod Plantation to the Charleston Museum to the Yorktown to Fort Moultrie and many more. Our family favorites include but are not limited to Boone Hall Plantation, Waterfront Park, and the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry.

Boone Hall Plantation offers many fun activities throughout the year. Our favorites are the Lowcountry Oyster Roast, strawberry festival and the Pumpkin Patch/Fright Nights. The Strawberry Festival and the Pumpkin Patch offer so many activities from trail rides, 3-story slides, jump pillows, petting zoos, local foods to try, and so much more.

Waterfront Park is nestled right under the Ravenel Bridge with beautiful views of downtown, the Yorktown and water. Besides having a great playground there is a huge field for families to have picnics, throw a frisbee, or kick a soccer ball. The park also offers a pier for fishing, sitting on porch swings, a monument to our Veterans in the Lowcountry, and a shop where you can buy souvenirs, sandwiches and most importantly it has soft-serve ice cream, a Cobblet favorite.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is a non-profit organization in the heart of downtown and offers a wide range of creative things for children of all ages to get in to, even babies. For the first couple of years of my girls life, we spent many days there hanging with friends learning and exploring our imaginations. And during the summers when school is out, the Children’s Museum offers a great summer camp for kids ages 3-10 from Jedi Training to Iron Chef to Harry Potter and so much more!

A young, Brooklyn, at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

A young, Brooklyn, at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

Making that decision in 2008 to move back to Charleston turned out to be the best idea we ever had and probably the best thing we could have done for our girls. The Cobblets are growing into curious, caring, active, supportive, and driven individuals and we have to say that along with our parenting and framily (friends + family), the Charleston community has had a big impact and we are so thankful.


Bio (by Emily):
Kristen lives in Mt. Pleasant with her husband, Walker, the Cobblets, and their fur baby, BoBerry (like the biscuit). This month, she is graduating Magna Cum Laude from the MUSC Accelerated Program with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Just last week, she passed her boards. In her free time, she can be found playing Ultimate Frisbee or completing a marathon or triathlon.

Kristen and friends at a Triathlon 

Kristen and friends at a Triathlon 

A Love Letter from Dawn Visceglia


From my first visit in spring of 2003 and each and every day, I am amazed by my continuously growing love and excitement about the Lowcountry. For a new spin on Lowcountry Love Letters, I am not going to focus on what to see and do, but rather I’ll focus on moments that make me smile in the form of a top 10 list.

10. Referring to this place as “Vacation-land” and having others instantly understand why.

9. Walking by the ornamental concrete dogs and pigs flanking home entrances on the Battery, all decked out for the various holidays. 

The fanciest ornamental pig you'll ever see

The fanciest ornamental pig you'll ever see

8. Seeing the Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks in Hampton Park.

Taking a walk through the oaks in Hampton Park

Taking a walk through the oaks in Hampton Park

7. Directing lost tourists downtown and having them be surprised people are so “helpful and friendly.”

6. Attending a show or concert in the Dock Street Theatre and thinking about all the performances and audiences that have been there before me.

Waiting for a show to begin at the Dock Street Theatre

Waiting for a show to begin at the Dock Street Theatre

5. Watching fireworks from "The Joe" (Riverdogs stadium) whether you’re at the game or down the road.

Dawn and Emily before fireworks at ''The Joe'' with the Joe Riley

Dawn and Emily before fireworks at ''The Joe'' with the Joe Riley

4. Crossing the James Island Connector into town, seeing the city, and again realizing, “I live here.”

3. Sitting on a rooftop, any rooftop and taking in the view. Ok, really, it’s about sitting outside taking in the view, regardless of the altitude.

2. Finding a new “go-to” restaurant or bar or going to one already in your personal rotation.

1. Planning what activities to do as there’s always something going on in the Lowcountry including cultural, sporting, arts, music, and farmer’s markets.

Another colorful day at the downtown Farmer's Market

Another colorful day at the downtown Farmer's Market

The Lowcountry offers so much. What would you add to this top ten?

Bio (by Emily):
Dawn lives in Downtown Charleston with her husband Peter and their two dogs, Atlas and Monza (yes, she's named after the restaurant on King). Dawn enjoys her time in the Lowcountry, along with various travels throughout this country and others. Her next adventure is to Slovakia. Dawn is a Senior Technology Project Manager. She formerly served on the Charleston Friends of the Library Board of Directors as President and is active with the Center for Women. Emily first learned the term 'vacation-land' from Dawn approximately 6 years ago.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Snee Farm

The first 12 years of my life were spent in one home. From that point on I moved about once a year (family job transfers, college, and more), until I was in my mid 20s, finally settling down in the Lowcountry. And exactly three years ago, I purchased my first home in Snee Farm, where we live today. 

My home, for the first 12 years of my life in Bristol, VA.

My home, for the first 12 years of my life in Bristol, VA.

One of my first memories of homeownership was a call from the Homeowner's Association, just a few days after I had moved in. If my memory serves me right, it was the president of the board and she was calling to welcome me and review a few 'rules' of my new neighborhood. But what really stuck with me was a comment she made casually while we were chatting, "Oh honey, I've lived here since it really was a farm". It seemed unbelievable. Who was this gal? She sounded decently young. So, I went to research Snee Farm as a farm and found it really wasn't that long ago that this part of Mt. Pleasant was considered 'far out' and farm land. The full early history of Snee Farm (going all the way back to the ice age and including references to Sewee Indians and president, George Washington) is documented by the community foundation, but an excerpt below explains the transformation into a neighborhood:

"In 1966, the plantation was purchased by Snee Farm Golf Club, and the (main) house and adjoining grounds by Joyce and Guilds Hollowell. The Hollowells continued restoration, and in 1974 the house was designated a National Historical Landmark. The Friends of Snee Farm purchased the historic house and its 28 acres in the late 1980’s. The core of Snee Farm is now known as the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service." - Originally Researched and Written in 1976 by Skippy Adkins Amended October, 2007 by Dottie Teetor, Assisted by Carlin Timmons of the National Park Service

Stretching it out after a bike ride

Stretching it out after a bike ride

And what a neighborhood it is!  Today, it has over 900 single family homes on the residential side of the property. Some of our dog-walking friends (whose ears must have been burning because they called me while I was writing this) have owned their home since the early 1980s, when most homes were just breaking ground. A snippet from the Dunes site on Snee Farm:

"Today, Snee Farm is at the very heart of Mount Pleasant, only 5 minutes from the Isle of Palms beach, tons of shopping and 20 minutes to downtown Charleston. With a beautiful 18-hole golf course, lagoons, large lots and majestic oaks, Snee Farm is unique to the area.

The homes in this neighborhood range in price from $150,000 for townhomes to $800,000 for homes in the Manor Section, overlooking the golf course or lagoons. With a wide variety of architecture, Snee Farm has a home to match everyone’s style, whether it is contemporary, colonial, ranch, lowcountry, or tudor." -

My family (that's my husband, Trevor and dog, Miles) particularly enjoy the lake views on our walks and bike rides, access to Palmetto Islands County Park, and the short drive to Boone Hall Farms (our CSA starts this month!). Last year on July 4th, we had friends in town and were on our way to the beach when we made a u-turn to ditch traffic and head back to our neighborhood pool. Once we arrived, we realized there was a celebration planned, where parents were participating in competitive pool games like the 'kid toss' and oiled watermelon pass. Endless entertainment, I'll tell you. To say the Snee Farm Swim Team is popular with residents, would be an understatement. This summer is the team's 45th anniversary and they've won nearly 30 championships. The team practices twice a day, also offering swim lessons to residents and beyond.

Bike ride this winter

Bike ride this winter

Other notables:
Location- With three entrances 
School Information- Elementary: Jennie Moore, Middle: Laing, High School: Wando
Country Club- How to join (tennis, golf, swim) here
Healthcare- Over half a dozen healthcare facilities within 10 miles
Homes- Currently for sale in Snee Farm




A Love Letter from Mackenzie Foster


“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). ***

Winter Weekend Getaway: Dewees Island

Angela and her husband, David, took a much deserved baby-moon last month to private Dewees Island. She shares all the details below!

It is a mild, Friday afternoon in late January. Sunny, a little cool, but mostly a gorgeous Charleston winter day. We board the private ferry to Dewees Island and sit across from the Emergency First Responder reporting to weekend duty. We both look at each other and begin to wonder if scheduling a weekend getaway to an island that is only accessible by ferry and is strictly a golf cart community was the best decision, since I am 36 weeks pregnant and look (and feel) like I could pop at any second. The Emergency Responder introduces himself, gets our details “just in case” and seems to hold in a grin of excitement at the thought of the thrill of delivering a baby on Dewees Island. To date, he explains, there has never been a baby delivered on the island and, as a matter of fact, the island houses two fire trucks, an ambulance, security vehicle and a helicopter landing pad, giving security and peace of mind in regards to emergencies and public safety.

As I look around at the other passengers on the ferry, I realize that there is an exact 1:1 human to dog ratio on board. Our dog-sitter plans having fallen through, we too were in tow with our 14-year old Chihuahua, Tater (more about dogs on the island later).

The beauty surrounding us on the ferry ride is truly spectacular. Dolphins and pelicans seem to guide the way as we pull up to the Dewees Island dock. We are pleased to be greeted with a golf cart charged and awaiting to take us to the pet-friendly suite that we have rented for the weekend at the Huyler House.

Tater is ready to ride! Dewees Island golf cart is loaded and ready for a weekend of exploring and fun.

Tater is ready to ride! Dewees Island golf cart is loaded and ready for a weekend of exploring and fun.

To say that we experienced the most relaxing and peaceful weekend together before baby’s arrival would not do the experience justice. Dewees Island is truly one of those places that you must experience for yourself. The community that resides on the island was friendly and welcoming and the nature and wildlife was spectacular. Rather than go on and on (because I really could) about how wonderful our experience was, I will encourage you to take a visit yourself.

Here are a few tips for making your stay on the island pleasant and comfortable:

Bring a few empty water bottles. The first building you will encounter upon arrival is The Landings Building. Here you will find a Nature Center with a touch pool, an archives exhibit, sustainable building resource library, mailroom for the residents, and most importantly a reverse osmosis water station. Water on the island is safe to drink, but my over-sensitive pregnancy palate required us to fill up some water bottles for extra pure drinking water.

Bring your own meals/snacks. We stayed in the Huyler House Suites which came with a fully equipped kitchen. There is no store on the island so I was sure (especially since I seem to be hungry all of the time growing a baby) to make a stop by the Harris Teeter on the Isle of Palms. It was convenient and right on the way to the ferry. I also pre-prepared a quiche and casserole for reheating when we were ready to eat. Surprisingly, several of the residents that we had met along the way offered to host us for meals or bring us snacks, although it wasn’t necessary, it was just another example of that tight-knit community feeling we experienced!

There is no TV (specific to the suite we stayed in) and internet service is at times slow. I realized that this may be one of the first trips my husband and I were forced to unplug (from our weekend television programs at least). The internet was available most of the time and I’ve been told it is often better at individual residences and that most homes do have television. As a last minute addition to our luggage, I threw in some playing cards and the baby care books that I have been meaning to read for the past nine months. We also enjoyed a few intense games of pool and ping-pong in the game room located under the Clubhouse, and bird watching at the Bird Blind, all within steps of our Suite. In the summer, the pool and tennis courts are open and of course the beach is just a quick golf cart ride away.

Dogs are welcome, but…We were fortunate enough to be able to book the dog-friendly suite and bring along our beloved Tater, but were informed by some of the residents the importance of keeping him on a leash and close by. As it turns out, alligators and hawks can be a real threat to snatching away a curious pet. We saw so much beautiful wildlife including deer and otters, but were reminded that nature is about the circle of life. Needless to say, Tater didn’t go far without one of us nearby. An overweight old Chihuahua would probably make for a great tasty treat for the local alligators! 

Interested in learning more about visiting or touring Dewees Island or better yet, the Real Estate Market for the island?  Check out Dewees Island Real Estate for more information, links to the Dewees Blog, available rentals, and available properties on the market. Judy Fairchild, a Dunes Properties agent, is our local resident Dewees Island expert!

Update: I am now 39 weeks pregnant and still anxiously awaiting the arrival of baby. While we are relieved that we will not have to name our baby girl after the island (although Dewees Wicke does have a ring to it), we are grateful for the time that we were able to spend on the island exploring the local nature and nurturing our relationship. I am a firm believer that a good sunset (or sunrise) is reviving to the soul.

For more pictures, please check out fellow Dunes Agent and local Photographer Donnie Whitaker for some spectacular pictures taken on Dewees Island.

Lowcountry Hearts

This past Saturday, I walked into a restaurant to meet friends for dinner (notedly: before the Garth Brooks concert). Glancing into the sea of people, I spot Andy first. Hair in a chignon, stunning earrings, and a white faux fur coat that's bound to catch anyone's eye. First impression, this is Andy. She's beautiful, bold, and wasn't afraid to rock a 15 pound wedding dress when she married the man of her dreams this past year. But we're not here to talk about Andy's fashion (oh, but maybe we are closer to Charleston Fashion Week), we're here to talk about her heart. Andy's true passion, outside of her close-knit family that includes her husband Travis and French bulldog, Bernice, is her selfless job as a Certified Cardiovascular Perfusionist at the Medical University of South Carolina. One where she wears a beeper at all times, to be on call for the lives of others. Just like she's on call for her friends 24/7, with a heart (and love) of gold.

And now we present to you...


Doesn't it seem like there's a holiday for everything these days? Just last week, I saw where it was National Chocolate Donut Day. Right before everyone's favorite, Valentine's Day. We expect to see heart shaped boxes, chocolate hearts, heart shaped balloons, and love all around, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.  Silently hiding underneath the Hallmark giant, is a smaller, less celebrated February date that makes our collective hearts skip a beat. It’s Congenital Heart Disease (CHD) Awareness Week. 

CHD Awareness Week is meant to bring awareness to the community and bond those individuals and families who are affected. CHD is an umbrella term for any defect in heart structure present at birth. It can take many forms, ranging from a simple “hole in the heart”, to a Blue-Baby, to syndromes incompatible with life.

The cause of a CHD is often unknown. Each year approximately 40,000 babies are born in the United States with a congenital heart defect and approximately two to three million individuals are thought to be living in the United States with CHD. Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, with 1 in every 100 children born having CHD. Those statistics are too haunting for any mother or family to bear alone.

Luckily, as if life isn’t perfect enough living in the Lowcountry, we have MUSC Children’s Hospital. MUSC is the only pediatric cardiac surgery center in the state. Every neonate, infant, toddler, child, pre-teen, and teenager with CHD will pass through MUSC’s door. MUSC is something truly special. It has a highly specialized team of professionals who dedicate their lives to saving the smallest members of our community; the Pediatric Heart Program.

Read an email directly from the Chief of Pediatric CT Surgery, Dr. Scott Bradley:

“To all-I want to let you know some good news about our program. We recently learned that the MUSC Pediatric Heart Program received the highest rating (3-stars) from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) Congenital Heart Surgery Database. The STS database includes essentially all of the pediatric heart programs in North America; there are currently 117 participating programs. [ . . .] overall outcomes are graded from 1-star (worse than expected) to 3-star (better than expected)[. . .] Only 10 out of the 117 programs in the database received a 3-star rating in the most recent public report. Due to the statistics involved, it is particularly hard for a smaller program to achieve a 3-star rating, which makes our accomplishment even more significant [. . .] this achievement reflects the efforts of everyone involved in the pediatric heart program. We should all be very proud of this -- Congratulations!”

MUSC is one of the top 10 hospitals in the country for little hearts, ranking next to giants in NYC, Philadelphia, and Boston. This achievement is a conglomeration of years of dedication, research, studies, practice, and education. And of course, love. Many times, the team operates on a small, sick baby for hours, and the surgeon stays scrubbed in from 7am until 7pm, never taking a break or even breaking scrub. And after an entire day in the operating room, I see the surgeon’s pull a chair next to the baby’s bed in the ICU. Instead of going home to their own families, they spend the night at their patient’s side. That’s love. 

Image: The Room2Cru, the pediatric heart team operating

Image: The Room2Cru, the pediatric heart team operating

Here are stories of the lives CHD has touched, specifically MUSC's own success story Jake Paul.

How You Can Help
There are dozens of organizations, volunteer programs, and funds that aid the Children’s Hospital. From radio-thons, luncheons, sporting events,  and races, the Lowcountry really cares about is children. Here is a quick list of upcoming events to help you get more involved.

Alicia and Andy at the MUSC's Little Hearts walk

Alicia and Andy at the MUSC's Little Hearts walk

What's Next
As an extra reward, MUSC is building a brand new Women’s and Children’s Medical Pavillion. The MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital plans are already underway. It will be a beautiful, and much needed, addition to the MUSC district. It will mirror the current Ashley River Tower, and will be a state-of-the-art medical center for South Carolina’s women, children, and babies. It will open its doors in 2019. 

My Final Thoughts
MUSC’s Children’s Hospital is a center for hope. The Lowcountry, and all of South Carolina, is beyond fortunate to have such a special organization in its own downtown. Congenital Heart Disease, although the most common birth defect, is just one of the many medical issues threatening our families and their happiness. The more we educate and familiarize ourselves and our community, the more progress we can create.  If there is one thing I have learned as a member of this amazing team and community, there is more love in those hospital walls and sandy beaches than all the Valentine’s day cards combined.

-Dafne Andrea Chianella Collins, CCP

Lowcountry Superbowl Extravaganza

While we may not be the biggest NFL fans, we do love a good party. In honor of the Carolina Panthers making it to the Super Bowl (as close as a hometown team gets for us), we decided to focus this week's post on the essentials for a great Super Bowl Party. It only takes a few things to make a party great with your friends and family: fan wear, decorations, good food, and entertainment (or good old fashioned competition with lawn games). 

Fan Wear & Decorations
The Vault - 307 King Street, Downtown (map)
Alex and Ani - 346 King Street, Downtown (map)
Etsy Carolina Panthers Market- Online
Dick's Sporting Goods ('other team' gear available here)- 1114 Bowman Road, Mt. Pleasant (map)
Party Plan It- 847 Houston Northcutt Boulevard, Mt. Pleasant (map)


Good Food
We recently fell in love with Doc Crombie's Bootleg BBQ sauces. Emily's husband Trevor recently made some delicious chicken with Habanero Havoc. Recipes available through Doc Crombie's site.

It wouldn't be a true party in the Lowcountry (in the months with the letter 'R', at least) if we didn't have oysters. We're even being called the Napa Valley of oysters. Check out these fancy accessories:

Lawn Games
What better way to get a party going, than to create some friendly competition? These are just two of our favorite lawn games to get your guests mingling:

If your guests fall in love with this game, may we suggest checking out the Charleston Cornhole League?  We discovered this group when they dominated Dunes Properties' Annual Battle of the Bags Tournament benefiting The Folly Angels. Want your own set of boards? Have a custom set made locally by Board Spaces.

Kan Jam
This is what you'll find most of our friends playing Sunday afternoon, before the big game. Although, they'll most likely be improvising by tossing the frisbees into recycle bins, unlike those fancy people on Wikipedia. And yes, there's even a social league for Kan Jam in Charleston. For that added Angela/Emily insight, we actually met through Ultimate Frisbee, but neither of us play. Want to learn more? Buy us a drink. Angela will have a mocktail.


Let's face it, hosting a party can be a lot of work!  Not up for it?  Check out Charleston's Largest Super Bowl Party with plenty to please everyone.

Not really into the big game, but still need to eat? Check out Eater Charleston's suggestions for finding food on Sunday.

Safe travels to all of our friends who are lucky enough to attend the big game in person. We'll be cheering from home with friends, BBQ, oysters, and fun!

Top Ten Charleston Instagram Accounts: Food Edition

Second to real estate, Angela and I enjoy talking about food the most. With Charleston Restaurant Week ending yesterday, we (and the smart people over at thought what better time to share our favorite Instagram food accounts to drool over? Since none of our picks overlapped, we decided to go ahead and share our planned post, as well, and add in a few suggestions of food photo takin' pros. 











Bonus for those with a sweet tooth:

Other notable Charleston foodie accounts:

Use these hashtags when posting your own scrumptious Charleston food pics:

Don't forget to 'like' the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association Facebook page for their next announcement dates for Restaurant Week.

Similar Past Post > Top Ten Charleston Instagram Accounts: View Edition

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
Carolina Caviar
Tuscan Bean Ravioli
Various Micro-Greens

Get social with SILO:

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

FAQs at The Real Estate Studio

As we start to wrap-up our business this year and look to next, I stumbled across a list of questions that I have been compiling over the year in my handy-dandy planner. These are questions that we are frequently asked about real estate and the Lowcountry, and they really vary!  We thought it might be helpful as we review this year, to post and address a few of these frequently asked questions: (please note that most of these are asked of us as we sit in The Real Estate Studio located at 214 King Street, daily)

Question: We are thinking about buying a condo. What do you have to offer?
Response: The Charleston peninsula is home to multiple condominiums located in the heart of our historic city and can offer some of the most sought-after locations within walking distance to select restaurants, the King Street shopping district, old city market, multiple Universities, and parks. Maintenance-free living and luxurious amenities offer a great alternative to higher cost historic homes. Downtown condos include:  Dockside Condominiums which are situated overlooking beautiful Charleston harbor; The Bristol is built along the Ashley River with deep-water access, swimming pool, covered garage, and a full-service marina; and XXI George Street Condominiums offer high-end finishes with oversized terraces with some providing up to 900 sq. ft. of outdoor living space that present views of the city skyline from every angle, just to name a few.

Question: Can you take our photo under this sign?
Response: You may not realize this about our fair city, but the sign for King Street and Princess Street has to be one of the most photographed signs in all of Charleston (also happens to be near the corner where our office is located). We watch folks stop for a photo-op under this sign multiple times a day!

Our lovely Sales Coordinator, Tara.

Our lovely Sales Coordinator, Tara.

Question: Where are the best places to live around here?
Response: There is no simple answer to this question. Charleston is made up of many different communities, all with their own unique characteristics. When thinking about moving into any new area, you should take into consideration some of these questions: 1)What is important to you? 2)Do you prefer new construction or a more established neighborhood? 3)What amenities are desirable? 4) Do you prefer a historic neighborhood, the beach, golf community, walkable community, a shorter or longer commute, a specific school district? For your first visit, if possible, we recommend that you allow a day or two to explore the area. We will be able to offer suggestions about neighborhoods and areas that may be a good fit. This will help you rule out areas that do not meet your criteria and save you time.

Follow @angelawicke on Instagram to see some great shots of communities around the Lowcountry. Below is a picture taken in Riverland Terrace after the torrential rainfall experienced this past October 2015.

Question: Where can we get lunch?
Response: We like to provide folks with an array of choices. Charleston is known for it's delicious food scene. We tend to steer people to places that are frequented by locals and use local food sources for their menu items. A few of our favorites within walking distance of The Real Estate Studio are Gaulart & Maliclet Fast and French Inc., Minero, and Blind Tiger. Note: if it's 2pm on a week day, Brasserie Gigi is your best option!  They serve food and drinks starting at 11:30am every day and never disappoint!

Question: What are the taxes like here?
Response: Our taxes are some of the lowest in the country (The Tax Foundation found that South Carolina ranked in the lowest percent in tax burdens as compared across the country). The Charleston County Tax Estimator is a great tool that we use to estimate taxes for properties. Rates are around 4% (primary residence)  vs. 6% (second homes, investment properties). Homeowners at age 65 or older may benefit from some exemptions from property tax once they apply for the Homestead Exemption at their local county auditor’s office.

Question: Where can I rent a bike?
Response: The Bicycle Shoppe or Affordabike are great options. Also be sure to ask your hotel, as most provide bicycles for free! And while at The Real Estate Studio, we do not rent out bicycles, we do have a few that we occasionally show property on (pictured below).

Question: Does it really flood here? What is the flood insurance like?
Response: Since the Lowcountry is made-up of coastal communities, at times, we are prone to flooding. Flood insurance requirements will vary from home to home. The best way to be sure that you completely understand the risks associated with purchasing property located in a flood zone is to work with a licensed real estate agent.

Question: Where can we get a good cup of coffee?
Response: City Lights , Starbucks , Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer, Black Tap Coffee are just a few of our favorites located close to the Studio. 

As you can see, our time in The Real Estate Studio often is so much more than discussing the real estate market. If you are ever in the area, please feel free to drop by and say "Hello!" at 214 King Street. We love a good chat!

Lowcountry Gift Guide 2015

Do you still have family or friends to check off your holiday shopping list? Well, good news. We have several gifts to share today that will work for foodies, do-gooders, fit folks, and more. The best part? All of these local, Lowcountry gifts are under $50.  

Clockwise: King of Pops Holiday Pack, Kristen Solecki King Street print, Green Heart "Be Mary" gift box, Charleston Magazine

Clockwise: King of Pops Holiday Pack, Kristen Solecki King Street print, Green Heart "Be Mary" gift box, Charleston Magazine

Clockwise: Charleston Receipts Cookbook, Cooper River Bridge Run, Olde Colony Benne Wafer Tin, Charleston County Park Pass

Clockwise: Charleston Receipts Cookbook, Cooper River Bridge Run, Olde Colony Benne Wafer Tin, Charleston County Park Pass

Clockwise: Tate Nation Puzzle, Produce and Rewined Candles from Candlefish, Rice Bead Jewelry, Charleston Animal Society Fireman

Clockwise: Tate Nation Puzzle, Produce and Rewined Candles from Candlefish, Rice Bead Jewelry, Charleston Animal Society Fireman

King of Pops Holiday Pack
Pack includes 8 pops; Egg Nog, Santa’s Milk & Cookies, Cranberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Pecan Pie. Warning: They don’t last long in your freezer due to high consumption. Email to order yours.

Kristen Solecki King Street print
These days, I can’t get my hands on enough art for our home. All of Kristen Solecki’s prints are gorgeous, but this King Street print brings the Lowcountry inside with some color. Check out her whole Etsy shop for more options.

Green Heart Project "Be Mary" Gift Box
As I mentioned in a previous post, Green Heart is one of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow because they show so much positive activity in our community. The proceeds from this box go right back to this cause- while filling your wet bar with all the necessities for a bloody mary- Charleston style.

Charleston Magazine subscription
The gift that keeps on giving. Every time I pick up a Charleston Magazine, I’m immediately engulfed in its beauty. Between photos of places I’ve yet to see, checklists of places I need to eat, and articles on folks who need to be recognized, this magazine touches on everything Charleston. Great for out of town folks, too.

Charleston Receipts Junior League Cookbook
Visit Blue Bicycle Books on King Street or a book sale through the Charleston Friends of the Library to find a gently used version of this classic, or purchase online through the Junior League of Charleston. Friends all over the country ask me about picking up a copy of this cookbook for them, regularly. 

Cooper River Bridge Run entry
A friend once bought this for me as a gift, before I’d ever even run a 5k, and definitely before a 10k. It gave me such motivation to try something new. So whether you’re a walker, jogger, or runner, this gift is worth giving a chance to commit to your wellness and you can’t beat the view at the top of the Cooper River Bridge!

Old Colony Bakery Benne Wafer Tin
Did someone say snacks? These benne wafers are like no other. Made in Mt. Pleasant, I once walked into the factory instead of the store front, trying to purchase some treats for our wedding. The smell was so intoxicating, I almost stole an entire pan. The good news is, they deliver to your doorstep.

Charleston County Individual Park Pass
Let’s see; dog park, nature walk, ultimate frisbee, birthday party in a shelter, water park. The number of times you visit a Charleston County Park in a year goes on and on. With admission at $2+ at most locations, you get your money back after ten visits with this individual pass. For the high rollers, check out the Gold Pass and all of its benefits.

Tate Nation puzzle
A favorite of my friends, these Tate Nation puzzles are vibrant works of art turned into family fun. We pass them around from house to house, but only after they’ve sat on our dining room tables for a couple of weeks to stare at in awe.

Candle Fish Candle Making Class
Because candle making is best done outside of the home (bad pipe clog story) and who doesn’t love a night out with friends learning a new skill? This store on Wentworth also features candles to purchase, like our favorite local brands Rewined and Produce.

Charleston Rice Bead bracelet from Candy Shop Vintage
A classic for any age. The rice bead jewelry from Charleston makes for a great conversation piece and these days- comes in many colors.

Charleston Animal Society Firefighter calendar
Not to spoil anything for my family, but a couple of you are getting this for Christmas. World famous and for a good cause. We love animals (and handsome firemen)!

Need a free, two-hour parking pass while you’re shopping? The City of Charleston has you covered through January 1 at these downtown locations.

Peace and Namaste in the Lowcountry

This post has been inspired by the upcoming tickets Emily and I have for the James Island County Park Starlight Yoga . It takes place in the center of the Holiday Festival of Lights , this Wednesday, December 9th. Tickets will still be available at the gate, if you're interested!

When I first moved to Charleston about five years ago (I can't believe that it's been that long!), I was surprised at how many yoga studios I saw around town. You name it, it was here; Community yoga, Baptiste yoga, Bikram yoga, Prenatal yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Hot yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Jivamukti yoga...and the list goes on. Before moving here, I had really only practiced yoga at my regular gym, as part of cooling down after a hard cardio workout. I was curious to find out what all of the hype was about. Since I was new to the area, didn't know anyone, and seemed to have plenty of time on my hands (I'm not a big fan of socializing as a party of one), I decided to try it out. I started with a Groupon for Charleston Power Yoga. After that first class I couldn't decide if I was hooked or going to die, but one thing was for sure, this wasn't my old gym's afterthought of a yoga class!

I think that we must take the time to pause and take a big breath during this hectic time of year. Yoga helps to keep the soul centered. There truly is something magical about being forced to stop and concentrate on your breath. Being pregnant, I have found a great solace in my prenatal yoga practice (Holy Cow Yoga has a great class). As my body is changing and I'm anxious about becoming a parent, I find some peace in laying it all out on my yoga mat.

So much of living in the Lowcountry and the lifestyle here can be centered around the beauty of the environment that surrounds us everywhere. I was at a complete stop in some traffic last week and began to be frustrated, thinking about everything on my 'to-do' list, when I looked up and just took a minute to breathe. The view was amazing. It's crazy how no matter where you are here (with a few exceptions of course) that if you just take a moment to look up and breathe, you will be comforted by the beauty of the Lowcountry.

View from my car while stopped last week.

View from my car while stopped last week.

Whether you are a yoga enthusiast or have never tried it before, here are a list of some of my personal favorite events that occur around town:

  • YogaPop - a whimsical night of yoga, live music, entertainment, shopping, and community fun held several times throughout the year!

  • Charleston SUP Safaris offer SUP Yoga- basic paddleboarding instruction and a full-on water yoga class. Several paddleboarding companies around the area sponsor this type of yoga.

  • Yoga at the Beach - Folly Beach Yoga with Serenity Tree Yoga instructors allow you to wiggle your toes in the sand, breath in the salty air, and connect to the relaxing waves of the ocean. Several of our beaches offer yoga classes such as these.

  • Walk and Restore Yoga at McLeod Plantation - lead by yoga professionals, this restorative walk leads participants along short walking loops stopping intermittently to stretch, relax, and practice restorative yoga.

Oddly enough, my first experience with yoga in the Lowcountry was also through a Groupon, but it happened to be my first experience with yoga, ever! I visited Jivamukti (now, Satsang) in Mt. Pleasant, where they played Michael Franti, lit incense, and turned the temperature up a bit, while we moved through all of the poses. Since then, through my years in Charleston, I’ve experienced yoga in many different formats:

  • Bendy Brewski- Yoga for beer lovers. A casual environment (read: local brewery) to enjoy an hour long class followed by a pint or flight. $15 pays for both. Class frequency slows down a bit through the winter, so always check their schedule for times and locations.

  • East Shore Athletic Club- Where I should go more often, since I’m a member. Classes offered many times throughout the week, but I prefer the morning beginner class on Johnnie Dodds for a good stretch to start my day.

  • Serenity Now- Yoga for all levels. This studio has a gorgeous mural on the wall that at the end of the day, centers me and takes away all of the day’s distractions. My friend Janeen and I find it easier to make it to this class during the winter nights, when our calendars aren't quite as full.

  • Bikram Yoga- Hot yoga. If you’ve never taken yoga before, this may not be the place to start, but can be enjoyable, if you read up on everything you’re getting ready to experience; simple poses, high heat. Cautionary tale from yours truly, who did not do her research and ended up dehydrated and aching hours after exiting the class.

  • Senior Center Yoga- Ok, so this isn’t one I've been invited to join, yet, but my Mother-in-Law attends frequently. If you ever saw her get up from the floor, with the same ease as a teenager with my one year old nephew, you’d be impressed at her flexibility and inspired to participate.

Bendy Brewski yoga at Holy City Brewing, the day after our friend Stacey's bachelorette party. Bold move. Photo credit: @hugerlove

Side note: Angela is always calling me her most 'hippie' friend and yet here she is talking about yoga, calmness, and peace. I love it.

Looking forward to Starlight Yoga on James Island this week. Hope you can join!

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! 

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.  

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.  

Giving Thanks for Those Who Give Back

Tis the season to show thanks. What better way to do that than to reflect back through some of our favorite non-profit organization's Instagram accounts?  Non-profit organizations play a huge role in the Lowcountry, supporting great causes from local agriculture to development of social and emotional skills for kids. There are so many great organizations out there, it was hard to choose just a few to feature in this post. See below for simple ways to give back, this holiday season, in the Lowcountry and beyond:

Lowcountry Local First- LLF advocates the benefits of a local living economy through community support for independent locally owned businesses & farmers.

Green Heart Project Farm-to-School Program in Charleston, SC. builds school farms, utilizes them as outdoor classrooms and connects students to fresh, healthy produce!

WINGS is an education program that teaches kids how to behave well, make good decisions and build healthy relationships.

Enough Pie A catalyst for community engagement in Charleston and its Upper Peninsula through creativity and collaboration.

Charleston Moves Safe. Connected. Livable. Our vision for Charleston.

South Carolina Aquarium The South Carolina Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that inspires conservation of the natural world.

Charleston Parks Conservancy Nonprofit dedicated to connecting people with their parks in Charleston.

Charleston Waterkeeper Protecting the public's right to clean water.

Charleston Animal Society Our mission has been the same for 141 years preventing cruelty to animals.

Lowcountry Food Bank Helping to fight hunger in the 10 coastal counties of SC one meal at a time!

CharlestonGOOD Charleston's grassroots incubator & media outlet.

3 Simple Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season:

  • Amazon Smile- You shop, Amazon gives. Pick from Amazon's long list of charities and a percentage of your purchase will go back to that organization.

  • Volunteer- Current volunteer opportunities available in the Lowcountry through Trident United Way.

  • Commit to follow one of these accounts or sign up for their mailing list, to learn more about what it is they do and how you can get involved.

What is your favorite Instagram account to follow that gives back?

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.



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



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


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.


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.  


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.  


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.

Buy Local Block Party- Meet the Vendors

We are excited to host the vendors for Lowcountry Local First's (LLF) Buy Local Block Party on Saturday, November 21. In preparation for this exciting event,  we're here to share a few tips that we've learned from many markets past and introduce a few of our vendors.


  • Bring Cash – This is a “just in case” tip. Many of the vendors accept cards, but sometimes the internet may run slow. Bring a little cash, so you don’t have to leave your one-of-a-kind at the market.
  • Come Hungry – LLF has lined up a number of food trucks along with several sweet treats! Roadside Seafood, Roti Rolls, Dashi, Crave Kitchen’s Mac Daddy Food Truck, Zombie Bob’s, Platia, Dulce, and King of Pops just to name a few!
  • 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.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: an all local farm market stand!
    The stand will feature produce grown by the Lowcountry’s next generation of farmers and food system leaders. Participants of our Growing New Farmers Sustainable Agriculture Certificate Program have been working hard to produce a variety of products and will be at the Block Party selling the (literal) fruits of their labor. It will showcase a variety of fall crops grown at our Dirt Works Incubator Farm on Johns Island, including Rooting Down FarmsCompost in My Shoe, and Spade and Clover Gardens! Spread the word and come ready to support your local farmers!

Since we are teaming up with LLF on this one, there will be an admission fee. Tickets are $10 in advance and can be purchased here or $15 at the gate.

Now a sneak peek into our fabulous lineup of vendors! Start making your list. Here are a few of the vendors that will be showing on November 21st!

8 Petals Designs
Alison Brynn Ross Illustration & Design
Art Board Co.
Austin Grace Smith
be More Heart
Breton Trading Co.
Brinko Ties
Bulls Bay Saltworks
The Cake Farmer
Charleston Crafts Cooperative
Charleston Fish Company
Fiber Art Workshop
Fisher Recycling
Hemming Birds Boutique
Hermosa Jewelry
Ink Meets Paper
Itinerant Literate Books
J. Stark- Starkmade
Kendal Leonard Designs
KLO Apparel
Knotty Cards
The Artwork of Kristen Solecki
Lauren Amos Designs
Laura Jane Louise Designs
Modern South Design
MoonBath Botanicals
Old Whaling Company
pH Reclaimed
Plum Hill Paddles
Pure Fluff Co.
Seersucker Appreciation Club
SheSells Candles
So Twisted Up
Southern Smoke Cigars
Stephanie Rose Designs

A favorite of ours... Kristen Solecki's portrait of Emily's house! 

A favorite of ours... Kristen Solecki's portrait of Emily's house! 

We know you're looking forward to November 21st as much as we are, now! 

Buy Local Block Party
w/ Vendors curated by The Lowcountry Artist Market
1630 Meeting Street, 29405
Saturday, November 21 from 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.
RSVP on Facebook