Travel the road less traveled, go off the beaten path…we all know the quotes that tell us to travel away from the busy places. You know what? Those quotes are true. Sometimes the best travel and memories are made within the “hidden gems.” As I spend a chilly, rainy day in North Carolina, I’m reminiscing about traveling to the unknown places in South Carolina.
Walahalla – A mountain city, full of history.
Chattooga River – Hiking, whitewater rafting, and waterfalls? What more could you want?
Abingdon Manor in Latta – A bed and breakfast inn, complete with a Greek Revival Style.
Cooper’s Country Store in Salters – Shop for smoked hams, shotguns, and everything in between before hitting the road again.
Bluffton – This little city is home to charm, cafes, and cute shops.
Autumn is my favorite season of the year with all of its festivities, decorations, and beautiful colors. Let’s not forget about all of the wonderful scents this time of the year brings. There is nothing better than smelling the scents of pumpkin spice, apple pie, and cinnamon in every home, store, or place in town. Bringing the amazing aromas into your own home is a quick and simple task that can be completed by trying these do-it-yourself fragrance recipes. The collection also includes a yummy treat that appeases more than one of your five senses!
Crockpot Cinnamon Spice Air Freshener:
3 cups hot water
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. whole cloves
Combine all of the ingredients into a crockpot and stir. Cover with the lid.
Cook on high for 1 hour, then remove lid. Let simmer on high for several hours.
4-6 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 orange rind
2 tbsp. whole cloves
3-5 bay leaves
1 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Fill a medium-sized pot three-fourths of the way full with water and add in all of the ingredients.
Bring the water to a boil and let boil on high for 3-4 minutes. Then, lower the heat and simmer. Keep on an eye on the water level and refill when needed.
This mixture lasts for several days. Place in a glass jar or bowl in the refrigerator. When ready to use again, re-fill a pot with water, pour in the ingredients, and simmer.
This stovetop potpourri recipe can also be made in a crockpot.
Crockpot or Slow Cooker Baked Apples:
5 medium-sized gala apples
1 ¼ cups granola
3 tbsp. melted butter
5 tsp. maple syrup
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for topping (optional)
Cut the top off the apples with a knife. Using a melon baller or measuring spoon (teaspoon size), remove the core and seeds from each apple. Once complete, each apple should have a hole in the top for the remaining ingredients.
Pack ¼ cup of the granola into each apple and place it in the crockpot or slow cooker.
Pour the melted butter evenly over the apples. Then, add a teaspoon of maple syrup over each apple.
Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Apples should be tender, but not falling apart when done.
Remove and serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you choose to do so.
Cinnamon Scented Pinecones:
Clear craft glue
Sealable gallon-sized bag or container
Using the paintbrush, coat the pinecones with a thin layer of glue. If doing all the pinecones at once, work quickly to prevent the glue from drying. It is suggested to complete the pinecones individually.
Sprinkle the entire pinecone evenly with ground cinnamon. Make sure to get all between the crevices.
Place all the pinecones into the sealable bag or container and shake off all the excess cinnamon.
Once the glue has dried, decorate your home with the cinnamon pinecones.
This DIY is great for kids!
Your home will never smell better than it does with these fall fragrances filling the air. Plus, all recipes can easily be used as gifts for housewarming parties, birthdays, and more!
October 11th is known as National Southern Food Heritage Day, and as many people know, southerners have quite a unique palate. Grits, Cheerwine, sweet tea, and hushpuppies are some of the more well-known southern foods and drinks. Yet, on National Southern Food Heritage Day, people throughout the South celebrate the dishes and treats that originated in our area, including the ones below.
King Cake: This special cake is a Mardi Gras tradition and not just in New Orleans. First appearing in 1870 and arriving in New Orleans from France, the king cake is a ring-shaped dessert topped with sugar and icing, in the colors of green, purple, and yellow. It is usually eaten on Fat Tuesday. Hidden inside the cake is a plastic baby doll. The person who finds it is “King for the Day” and is supposed to purchase next year’s cake or host a Fat Tuesday party. In addition, the baby doll symbolizes Jesus being visited by the three wise men on January 6th, which is also known as Holy Day, Epiphany, and the Twelfth Night.
Fried Foods(which can include any type of food): The South is known for fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried fish, and just about fried anything. These battered delicacies come in a variety of different ways and can be made spicy. Other foods I have seen fried are butter, Oreos, and doughnuts. I would recommend trying these at your own discretion.
Pimento Cheese: According to Serious Eats website, pimento cheese originated in the 1870s with New York farmers. These New Yorkers started creating cream cheese, and Spain began sending canned red peppers or pimentos to the United States. In 1908, the two items appeared together in a Good Housekeeping recipe. Afterwards, the mixture became a hit, especially in the South. As a matter of fact, farmers in Georgia grew red peppers and sent them throughout the United States, adding to the craze. Over time, pimento cheese, which is also known as the “caviar of the South,” became a staple for many people below the Mason Dixon line. It is a mixture of pimentos, cream cheese, grated cheese, mayonnaise, peppers, and more. Pimento cheese is eaten on sandwiches, crackers, chips, or even on cheeseburgers.
Hummingbird Cake: This is another cake that is a tradition for many events. Ingredients include pineapple, banana, spices, pecans, and a cream cheese frosting. As for the hummingbird cake name, its history actually comes from Jamaica. Also known as the Doctor Bird Cake, this dessert is named after Jamaica’s national bird. It came to the United States in 1978 when it was printed in Southern Living with the recipe being written by L.H. Wiggins. Later that year, the cake won the Favorite Cake Award at the Kentucky State Fair. In 1990, Southern Living named the hummingbird cake its favorite recipe and the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history.
Boiled Peanuts: Remember the buckets of peanuts at Sagebrush Steakhouse or Texas Roadhouse? One can guess that these peanuts were boiled. Mainly popular in Georgia, boiled peanuts are a classic snack at baseball games, roadside stands, and restaurants. Historians believe this treat started in the Civil War after Union General William T. Sherman’s troops marched through Georgia. After the march, the South was depleted of resources and supplies for their troops. Peanuts became a main source of food, and when boiled over a fire with salt, soldiers discovered that the boiled peanuts would last up to seven days in their packs. Once the war ended, the love for boiled peanuts remained and continues to grow to this day.
Cheese Straws: Similar to breadsticks, cheese straws are the perfect southern appetizer and snack. Mainly consisting of flour, cheese, butter, and cayenne pepper, no one quite knows how cheese straws came to be, but some say it was created by a cook who mixed leftover biscuit dough and cheese together. Let’s just say no matter how this snack was invented, southerners are glad it was.
Charm Cakes: A Victorian-era tradition quickly grabbed the hearts of southerners and found its way into Southern weddings. Within charm cakes, little charms with significant meanings are attached to ribbon and hidden inside the cake. During a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or the actual wedding, each bridesmaid pulls out a charm. For example, the ring means you are the next to marry, seashell stands for eternal beauty, and a moon stands for opportunity.
Food is part of the South’s history and every family’s heritage. These timeless dishes are ones that most people in the South truly love and will continue to share with future generations.
The history of contact lenses dates back to 1508 and Leonardo da Vinci’s idea of “wearing a water-filled hemisphere over the eye,” first published in his book, Codex of the eye, Manual D. Since then, designs have evolved and the version of contact lens that is mostly similar to today’s lenses actually originated in 1949. In fact, President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first President to appear in public wearing contact lenses in 1964. Today, over 150 million people worldwide wear these thin lenses over their eyes for therapeutic, corrective, and cosmetic use. While contact lenses serve great purposes, they need special care. October is Contact Lens Safety month and the perfect time to refresh ourselves on the safety and importance of taking regular care of your contact lenses. Improper maintenance can lead to increased risks of eye infections. Most of the following tips are from the CDC and FDA.
Clean and disinfect your lenses daily. There are many types of contact lens solutions available. Use a solution that works for you and follow the appropriate instructions. Most eye doctors suggest using a solution with hydrogen peroxide, which provides extra disinfecting. However, as a contact lens wearer myself, it is important to read the instructions for hydrogen peroxide solution, as you can’t wear your lenses for several hours while cleaning. For example, you can’t put them in the solution and place them in your eyes an hour later. Also, never reuse solution. Lastly, if you wear hard contact lenses, once you have taken them out, rub the lens carefully with the solution, and rinse well before placing them in the case.
When removing and putting in your contacts, always wash your hands with soap and water beforehand. Dry completely. This practice erases the germs from your hands and avoids getting them in your eyes.
No matter what solution you are using, replace your storage case at least every three months or as stated by your eye doctor or solution instructions. For me, every time I open a new bottle of solution, I change my case. This is due to the fact that I am using the hydrogen peroxide base.
Don’t expose your contacts to water and always remove before swimming or showering.
This past summer, I read an article on the Today Show website about a man who developed a parasitic infection and lost sight in his right eye after showering with contact lenses. This is an extreme example, but still shows what can happen and serves as a warning.
Unless told by your doctor, don’t wear your lenses overnight or while sleeping. The darkness of night causes extra stress on the cornea and reduces the amount of oxygen to your eye, drying them out and making them more susceptible to infection.
If you start experiencing symptoms of irritation or infection, remove your contacts, and wear your glasses. If needed, call your eye doctor immediately. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include: excess tearing, discomfort, unusual sensitivity to light, itching, burning, blurred vision, pain, swelling, or redness. I often have dry eyelids that cause an urge to rub my eyes. When this happens, I choose glasses instead of contact lenses. Plus, it never hurts to have a pair of glasses available as a quick backup; just be sure they are also up to date with your prescription.
Speaking of prescriptions, visit your eye doctor yearly to keep up with your eye health. This way, you won’t be wearing contacts or glasses with old prescriptions.
Contact lenses are normally worn by adults. Children can use this type of eyewear but should take extra caution. Parents and guardians should play an important role in encouraging safety and health behaviors to maintain contact lenses.
I love my contact lenses and don them almost every day. However, I know, like most people, this wouldn’t be possible without practicing these tips. One easy way to remember to take care of your contact lenses is the CDC’s slogan: healthy habits = healthy eyes.
There is nothing better than seeing awe and wonder in a child’s eyes. Whether it is seeing a new site, experiencing a cool activity, or finding an amazing item, the joy of learning can easily be seen and felt. There are many topics you and your family can enjoy and learn about together, including the classic seven wonders of the world. Before continuing on, let’s take a look at what is included in the list of the seven wonders. Over time the Seven Wonders have changed. The newest list was created in 2007 after more than 100 million people voted to name the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” which are below:
The Great Wall of China in China
Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Machu Picchu in Peru
Chichen Itza (The Yucatan Peninsula) in Mexico
The Roman Colosseum in Rome
The Taj Mahal in Agra, India
The Petra in Jordan
Many children and adults may not be familiar with some of these landmarks. However, there are fun and creative ways to learn about them. These activities are hands-on and can be done on a rainy afternoon, a summer day, or a weekend of learning at home.
Take a virtual field trip on Google Earth to the Seven Wonders. Visit earth.google.com/web and search the various places. Then, zoom in and out and explore the landmark’s history. You can also learn about the “Seven Wonder of the Ancient World” by searching the website of The Museum of UnNatural History (http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/wonders.htm).
Create a passport or scrapbook with pictures and facts about each wonder. In addition, Photoshop pictures of your child in front of the site to help make the experience come alive. Other options include putting together a tourist guide book, brochure, advertisement, or newspaper. Let your child take on different roles and careers to learn about the famous site. There are many avenues you could take with this activity.
Make a physical version of the landmark. For example, use paper, markers, and paper towel or toilet paper rolls to build Christ the Redeemer Statue or create the Great Wall of China with Legos. Common materials that could be used are clay, construction paper, salt dough, rocks, and fabrics.
Instead of making a physical object, design something digital, such as a video, commercial for the Seven Wonders, etc. Use sites like iMovie, WeVideo, and Prezi and let your children’s imaginations run wild with creativity. Plus, you can even create an at-home green screen and digitally replace the background with the wonder.
Study about the culture, cities, and countries where the wonder is located. Research the area’s climate, food, music, arts, historic sites, and more. Then, celebrate that wonder by bringing it and its home country to life. The more vivid and hands-on experience children can have when learning about the Seven Wonders of the World, the better they’ll be able to remember and retain the knowledge they’ve learned.
These ideas are perfect ways for children and students at school to learn about the Seven Wonders of the World. There is so much of the world that we don’t know about. The earlier we start exploring these areas, the more global a child can be.
Life can be hard. It can be confusing. It can also be comforting. Every now and then, most people find a way to relax and let go of their emotions and thoughts. Some will take walks, others will have a conversation with a friend, while many will write and journal. Writing doesn’t mean you have to sit down and publish a book. This habit takes on various forms, depending on the writer. One day you can be creating a story that’s been in your mind, the next day you are creating a list of your hopes and goals, and lastly, you are writing down characteristics about a passed loved one you miss. Once a pen hits a piece of paper, or a person’s fingers hit the keyboard, a powerful thing occurs. Plus, there are health and lifestyle benefits to writing. If you have been wanting to journal and haven’t known where to start, let me persuade you with a few facts, as well as some tips and tricks.
You will eliminate stress. Don’t we all want to get rid of at least a little bit of stress in our lives? By journaling, you are creating a clear list of everything you are worried about, therefore, allowing those thoughts to come out of your head. In addition, it helps you to see what you are stressing about and whether or not you actually need to be stressing about them. Something in our heads may seem big when, in reality, it is tiny.
You’ll gain a sense of awareness of your reality. Our minds can only take so much before they “explode.” Just like with stress, writing down what you have on your mind, what you are going to complete, achieve, and how you feel, will help you realize who you actually are and what you are feeling. Plus, writing down your thoughts will assist you in making better decisions.
Between gaining a sense of reality and eliminating your stress, writing makes you happier. Researcher Laura King stated in the article “The Psychological Benefits of Writing” that keeping a gratitude journal will increase your happiness and health because you are able to focus more on the good things in life.
Periodically journaling your thoughts, daily life, and memories soon become a historical record for you to keep year after year. Some people fill notebook after notebook with their writings.
A common reason for people to write is to channel and understand traumatic events, as well as hard memories. Journaling about your difficult times can help you realize the feelings and emotions you might have held in. However, studies have found that it is best to wait until about six months after the event for the benefits to sink in; otherwise, you could become more depressed. It is also important to note that this type of writing shouldn’t be forced; let it flow.
Journaling can make you a better learner. Writing does take time and thought. You sometimes have to be in a zone to put words into sentences. Yet this creative outlet lets you express ideas and encourages critical thinking. In return, you are more introspective, explore more interests, and are more willing to dive deeper into ideas.
One final benefit of writing is that it can keep your mind in shape. This habit motivates your brain to stay sharp and can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The power of writing, whether it’s every day or a couple of times a month, can have a big benefit on your health. Also, it is a creative way for self-care, putting yourself first, and clearing your mind.
Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.
Steps to Beginning
The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is to send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.
There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.
Hush puppies – one of my favorite Southern foods! Now, you can make them yourself using this simple recipe!
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
Happy Wednesday! If you are like me, you can sometimes fall into a midweek slump. This slump is composed of tiredness and stress. To overcome it, I recite inspirational quotes throughout the rest of the week. These affirmations give me the strength to press forward and stay strong. So, I thought I would share some of my favorites with you.