A Glimpse of Our South Carolina Autumn

We are so fortunate to have enjoyed a simply gorgeous fall this year.  I guess all of the rain from the summer months did some good after all because the color on the trees this year have been more vivid than I ever remember.

God has definitely been showing His majesty this season!
I first visited this area when I was in college several years ago.  We were on chorus tour that took us through Asheville (where I first saw and fell in love with the Biltmore house) into Greenville.  At the time I didn’t think there was much to this area.  A few small colleges, but nothing really attracted me or many people I knew at the time.

Then we moved here with Audley’s job.  

Greenville has changed so much over the last (dare I say it?….) 20 years!  They have completely revitalized the downtown, restoring buildings, bringing in business, creating parks and are competing to claim the title of the destination of Foodies everywhere.
{There are some amazing places to dine here!}   
But one of the highlights of the downtown area is a gorgeous park in the midst of everything.  The Park at Reedy Falls has bike and running trails, areas for picnics, waterfalls, and attaches to the old cotton warehouse that has been revamped in to shops, and the amazing High Cotton restaurant.
{You dress up to eat here!}
It’s just a great place to go and relax, an escape from the Urban life, right in the middle of the city!

Over the weekend we enjoyed a little family downtime by spending the afternoon at the falls goofing off together and taking pictures.  It was a relaxing time for us all and we were truly able to enjoy some of our South Carolina autumn.

One of the last hydrangeas of the season.  I love the look of them at this stage.

The mood of my teenagers reflected the beauty and casualness of the day.  It was like we didn’t have a care in the world.

Couldn’t we all use more days like this?!

Even Audley & I got in on the fun during the day.

Honestly it has been too long since our family has enjoyed such down time.  With the hectic schedules of work, school, youth group and sports we tend to forget how important it is to have this time.  With a cold front moving in this week I don’t see too many more days like this showing up in the next couple of months.  It was so nice to get out and enjoy a bit of our area without really having to drive far.  And it was even more enjoyable to have this time with my precious family.

I hope you are having a beautiful autumn where you are!

Greenville’s Saturday Market

While I think we have had exactly ten days of spring since March 20 (we’ve had a lot of rain & chilly temps), it has been just enough that one of our local growers markets has opened for market season!  Now if there is one thing I love better than growing my own food, is farm fresh and delicious produce bought straight from the ones who grow it.
In fact, I am a firm believer of skipping the produce section at the grocery store as much as possible during the late-spring, summer and fall months and hitting the local market on Saturday for food for our family.
Fresh?
Oh Absolutely, ten times better!
Local?
So much better than imported!
GMO’s?
No way!
And the best part of all is we are supporting our local community of growers!
Yes, it is more expensive than the grocery store, but the quality & flavor of what we buy is so worth it!
Here is a peak of the opening Saturday of market season around here…..

Despite the threat of rain and chilly (OK, it was cold!) temperatures, the market area was packed!

The Saturday market is right downtown on Main Street.  Two blocks are closed off between Washington & Court Streets where vendors set up from 8:30-12:30 each Saturday beginning in May.

As we shopped we enjoyed the live entertainment by this local bluegrass group. 
 How fun is that?!

Since it is still early in the growing season, fresh lettuces, strawberries, radishes, & asparagus were the common produce found.  There were a few very early tomatoes scattered about, as well as vendors sharing samples of produce they hope to have in coming weeks.

I loved the way this vendor chopped up several varieties of lettuce that could be purchased as a mix.  So pretty!

I love the idea of growing lettuce in a hanging basket!  Anyone can do this no matter how small a place you have.

Besides spring veggies (I missed out on the asparagus …. really disappointing), we found local grass-fed beef, South Carolina caught seafood, fresh organic chicken, and eggs.

The Spinning Spider Creamery had an abundance of fresh cheese and cheese spreads to choose from.

It was really hard to make a decision with all of the delicious flavors!

But, I finally settled on a Muntford Jack.  It was so good!

One of my favorite vendors of the day was the pasta tent.  There was a huge line so I knew this had to be some really good stuff.

So many wonderful flavors and styles of pasta, all of it made fresh with organic ingredients and gluten-free so everyone could enjoy it.  I can’t wait to cook with this in the coming week!

We splurged a little when we came upon one particular vendor.

We took one look at these gorgeous Strawberry pies and were sold.  It was definitely a treat, and oh my goodness how delicious it was!

MacKenzie Grace licked the pie pan clean!

Seriously, she did.

Other great vendors included local farmers selling starter plants, fresh cut spring flowers, fresh honey, homemade soaps, and artwork.  There was so much to take in!

One of the things I loved most about this little market is that each vendor must be approved.  Visits are made to their farms and facilities and they are verified to be South Carolina official.

I love it.

Do you have local markets where you are?

A Night at the Theater

Last weekend, Audley and I attended the traveling production of Broadway’s “Billy Elliot” in Greenville for a fun day after Valentine’s date.  
I love nothing better than taking in a live show with Audley whether it be a musical or ballet or the symphony! It’s such a relaxing, entertaining and fabulous way to spend an evening.  Nothing is more exciting and surprising than live theater performances!

Billy Elliot is set during the great coal miners strike in Great Britain during the 1980’s and tells the story of a young boy who trades his boxing gloves for dance shoes.  Such a great story with history woven throughout and a theme of never give up on your dreams.  I loved the dance numbers and most of the music, although I do wish musicals didn’t incorporate so much vulgar language.  Even from the mouths of the children in the play…. 
That bothers me.
But, unfortunately, in our society, foul language is too often accepted and is found even in novels and television shows geared towards my teenagers.
But enough of this soapbox….  I have another one to get on!
Attending a live performance is much different than loading up and catching a movie, but it is quite obvious that the class and etiquette that used to be affiliated with live productions is no longer respected in the eyes of many.  I was quite disappointed and distracted by people talking during the show, entering the performance late, and especially in the attire of most of the theater patrons.
I guess I am an old soul.  I love good old-fashioned manners and doing things the proper way.

So here are a few Do’s & Don’ts for attending a live theater production:

DO dress for the occasion.  You don’t have to go formal, although it is accepted for a night performance, but think church clothes.  A pretty dress for the ladies, a button down and tie for the gentleman.  Jeans are not acceptable for either sex.  For a matinee a little more casual is accepted, and of course a school play is definitely a casual event, but still dress nice.

And ladies, leave the jingly jewelry behind.

Even when I was at my heaviest, I didn’t leave the house without make-up on, hair fixed and wearing clothing that was appropriate for wherever I was going.
Even now, I see that my teenagers are dressed for their own occasions from school & church clothing to not ever leaving the house in their pajamas!  We dress to travel, we dress to go out to eat, and while we are often overdressed if we go to Walmart (I seriously avoid that place), we are dressed in clothing without holes, hair fixed and clean.
 I find nothing more offensive than to be dining out with the family in a nice restaurant and find ourselves seated by people who are dressed like they rolled out of bed and went into public.
It’s just plain respect for yourself to dress for the occasion and definitely respect for those around you!
Dress up when you go to the theater!

DO take a bath before going to the theater.  Yes, people have to be told this.  Theater seating is close and you will be there for 2-3 hours.  Make sure you smell good and don’t wear too much fragrance.  You don’t want to make people sick or risk allergies to products you might wear.

DO be on time.  It is so rude to have to climb over people once the who has begun.  Not only is it rude to climb over others, it is so distracting for the actors and actresses on stage.  They see the movements and it can be very bothersome!
Live theater does not include 20 minutes of previews that you can slip in during.  When the lights dim, the show goes on.
If something has happened that has made you late, please have the courtesy to wait in the back of the theater until the first act has ended.  It may not be the most comfortable for you, but I can assure you that it will be appreciated by others attending the show!

DO be prepared.  If your tickets are at will-call, be there early to pick them up.  Have your tickets handy at all times so that when as usher asks to see them, you have them.  If you know you seats are in the center of the aisle, try to seat yourself early so that you aren’t having to step over others to reach them.

DO applaud the musicians as they are introduced before the curtain arises.  The audience’s enthusiasm truly sets the tone for the performance.  Also applaud the performers after a well-sung number or dance scene.  At the end of the show, also show your approval for the performance, but after the stars have taken their final bow, it’s time to go.  Multiple encores are exhausting for everyone, especially the performers who are already tired after a long show!

FYI:  It is tradition to cheer for musical performers using an Italian cheer “bravo” which means “well done!”  Shout “bravo” for a male performer and “brava” for a female.  If it is a group of performers, use the term “bravi” and “brave” if the group is all females.
I learned this in a theater class that I took in college, although I can only think of once I have used the term “bravo“.

DON’T talk during the performance.  Once again not only is it distracting for the audience, it is distracting for the performers.

DON’T bring food or drink into live theater.  Most evening performances don’t begin until 8:00 which does leave plenty of time for you to eat prior to arrival.  Besides, the noises of candy wrappers rattling or drinks being turned up are distracting to everyone.  It is so easy to miss a line during a live performance, don’t be the cause of several people missing what was said.

DON’T play on your phones, iPads, etc….  You can go an hour and a half without social media, checking email or texting someone.  Most all live performances have an intermission, so surly you can wait until then to see who has messaged you.

DON’T use flash photography during a live performance.  This really should be self explanatory, but you never know.  Besides, with most Broadway based musicals, photography is forbidden period as it is illegal.

DON’T go to sleep.  Seriously, how rude is that?  If you find a performance boring or not your “cup of tea” leave at intermission.  If you are tired, plan ahead to get a nap before attending the show.

If you have never attended a live performance, you are not too old to see one and become hooked!  From high school plays (which are a little less formal) to the symphony there are so many options.  

Do you like live productions?

"Light the Night"

Yesterday our family took part in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night” Walk at Furman University.  While I don’t know much about lymphoma, I know leukemia is a much dreaded blood disease that can affect anyone at any age, but for some reason seems to like children.  
We were introduced to this walk by my friend Ashland, whose son, Sam has leukemia.  While he is in remission, he is still undergoing chemo for another year.  That is a lot on a 7th grader and his family.  Sam and my Bradley have become wonderful friends since we moved here eight months ago and Bradley has become quite interested in supporting Sam.
Ashland asked us about participating in this wonderful cause to help with research and treatment of this disease and my children immediately jumped at the opportunity.  We decide it should be a family event as leukemia has also affected our own family in the last two years; Audley’s grandfather passed away from a form of the disease a year ago this weekend.
It was a perfectly lovely night that was filled with people celebrating, honoring and cherishing the memories of their loved ones who have fought this horrible disease.   I was so glad that we could be a part of it all and more than thrilled that my children wanted to be a part of it.

1. My children; the girls walked in memory of their Pop (yellow balloons), Bradley walked for his friend, Sam, a survivor (Red Balloon).  2. Our friends Ernie & Peggy; Ernie was diagnosed with leukemia over the summer so he walks as a survivor. 3. Balloons to “Light the Night” 4. The walk around Furman University.

My little family ready to walk for a great cause.

1. Audley decided to give blood to help out 2. So, I gave, too. 3. Audley & I before the walk 4. Bradley (center) with Sam & his brother, Jake.

Sam (far right) with his family at Light the Night

It was truly an amazing and memorable night for all!

If you want to check out “Light the Night”, its purpose or make a donation, you can go here.

I’m off to Raleigh for the weekend to attend the Southern Blogger’s Conference.  This is my first conference, so I’m a little nervous, but I know it’s going to be a lot of fun!