Friday, September 30, 2011

Charleston adora[tion] - September 30, 2011

Again, a little background for those of you who don't visit my blog regularly, I try to write a post every Friday that is based on something that I enjoy about my town. The only (self-imposed) stipulation is that I must visit the place the same week that I write about it, which is meant to get me out and about in the city that I love.

I am so excited to share today's post with you because it is somewhere that I love to go and definitely not a place that is on the radar of most tourists visiting Charleston. It may not even be on the radar of some residents of Charleston! So without further ado, let me introduce you to Doug Panzone, aka The Sheepman. Although I've never actually met the man behind the name, I've admired his artwork for years.

First of all, I should say that I have a slight fascination with graffiti. Yes I design buildings, and yes I own a home, and no I don't think that it's anyone's right to destroy someone else's property. I do not condone bad behavior. Although, when there is talent involved, I think it's worth sharing. And in the case of the spot that I'm sharing today, this is the backside of an old strip mall on the way out to Folly Beach, and if anything the fantastical images portrayed on these walls does nothing but improve what's there.

He isn't only a 'graffiti artist', but is also a 'muralist'. His murals just happen to look a lot like graffiti! And of course he paints them with spray paint.

You must admit that producing these insanely detailed images with cans of spray paint is quite impressive. No?

What is really interesting is that the NY Times did an article on visiting our fair city called "Charleston on the Cheap", and even they took notice of this incredible artwork (image 10 of 12 in the slideshow). The unfortunate part of this story is that in some spots, the graffiti has already been painted over with boring gray paint. Beautiful art beneath, lost forever.

Since it's hard to tell the scale of these, I took some photos of myself so you could get an idea of how large these painting are. You could also scale it off of the concrete block.

So there you have it, one more thing that I love about Charleston. What do you think? Do you share in my love of graffiti? Can you guess who my favorite graffiti artist is? No, he's not mentioned in this post, although Sheepman is a close second! Also, did you know that one of the most famous graffiti artists in the country is from Charleston? Shepard Fairey who started the OBEY/Andre the Giant phenomenon, and more recently the Obama portrait.

Monday, September 26, 2011

meal prepara[tion]

Brian sent me a New York Times article today... Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? The article basically compared a meal from McDonald's for a family of four to a meal that you could cook at home for 4 to 6 people. I appreciated him sharing the graphic with me, which was what he was really trying to express. Little did he know that I would actually read the article, which was actually somewhat scary and disgusting as far as the statistics they were doling out. For example, "fast food companies spent $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009". How can vegetables compete with that?

So, I proposed that we try to do better about cooking. We don't eat fast food for dinner, but we do have difficulty cooking healthy meals. And as the article suggests, cooking feels like a job. It shouldn't, it should be fun and experimental, and a time to hang out with one another. We're a team, we are smart, we can do this!

About a month ago, I signed up to receive a recipe a day by email from Real Simple. And today, I decided to put one of those recipes to good use. Of course, I modified it slightly with the ingredients that I had, and I pretty much halved the recipe. The only thing I had to purchase on our way home from work was the Italian-style turkey sausage links. Easy peasy.

This particular recipe is called the 5-Star Pasta Dish. It's basically spaghetti, squash, zucchini, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, salt & pepper, and the turkey sausage. Unfortunately, Brian was dealing with an issue in the yard, but that's a whole other post. So, that left me to do it myself.

With all my ingredients and laptop on hand, I set forth to cook us a healthy, easy meal!

It truly was as easy as boiling water. I chopped all the veggies, while I cooked the spaghetti and the turkey sausage (the grossest part was probably de-casing the links... ooh). Once the meat was cooked, I removed it from the pan and added the vegetables, garlic, olive oil, and salt & pepper. Cooked that for about fifteen minutes and then poured it all together in a bowl.

It turned out great. It was a little strange to be eating spaghetti without any sauce, but the flavors more than made up for it. Although a little something extra might be nice next time. All in all, it was a success, and good thing I only made half because we actually had a lot of leftovers!

On a side note, and speaking of cooking, I wanted to share a few tips that I got from a repair man this morning... this will make sense shortly. We have found a renter for our condo, but the washing machine needed to be repaired, so I called the first company that came up on Google. For you locals, that company was 911 Service Today, and Arik was AWESOME. I want to scream from the rooftop, that this guy is the best! First off, they quoted me a comparable price to other companies I called, except their price included service. He showed up on time, and immediately knew the problem with the washer. Then he proceeded to fix it, all while telling me every move he was making and why! After that, he walked me around the kitchen to tell me little tips and tricks for each appliance. We were also having an issue with the disposal (it hasn't worked since the worst renter in history moved out), and this guy just put some ice cubes down the drain, turned it on, and voila! The man is a magician! When it came time to pay, he pulled out his iPad, sent me an invoice, and charged me the same price I'd been quoted over the phone! I felt like I got a 2-for-1 deal! So here are a few of the tips he shared, that you too can use in your home!
  • If you have an over-the-range microwave, always use your vent fan when cooking on the stovetop. The condensation from the pots will seep into the control panel (keypad) of the microwave and ruin the whole machine, which will in turn require you to replace the whole unit. 
  • Vacuum out from under the refrigerator at least once a year. Did you know that the lifespan of an ice maker is generally 2 years? We have 2 that need to be replaced. 
  • It isn't necessary to run your heat settings on the dishwasher. It causes your electric bill to skyrocket. Before running a cycle of your dishwasher, run the hot water in the sink, to get the hot water to your dishwasher. 
  •  It's also a good idea to run the hot water before turning on your disposal.
  • Use jet dry in your dishwasher to keep your utensils from tarnishing/rusting. The water will cause rust no matter if you have expensive or cheap silverware. He also recommended using powder detergent, and he discouraged the use of the little plastic tablets that the plastic is supposed to melt away. He says a lot of the calls he gets about dishwashers end up having little plastic casings clogging them up.
  • Vacuum out dryer vent on the exterior of your home at least once a year. 
All is great advice that we started implementing in our house tonight! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I love Clemson football. Enough said.

My sister and her husband have season tickets, and go to every home game, and we try to make it to at least one game per season. Pathetic, I know!

Last weekend, Brian and I made the trip up to Clemson to see the Tigers play the Auburn Tigers. We don’t play very often, but when we do, we usually get beat. At least the last few times that I’ve witnessed it, like the Peach Bowl, New Year’s Eve after the 2007 season. It was not a pretty sight. And it gave me a migraine to boot, so I’ve always had a bad taste for Auburn football! Sorry friends… which is another story in itself, the amazing number of folks that I hang out with are Auburn grads! Good people. Just don’t like when our teams play each other!!

So, back to the weekend. We met up with Allison & Brad (sis & bro-in-law) in their hometown of Spartanburg, then the four of us (+Winston, their pug) headed to Clemson.  Well, Pendleton actually, which is where Brad’s mom lives, and she was kind enough to let us crash for the night, so as to avoid having to wake up super-early to make the drive. Her house is about 5 minutes from the stadium, whereas A & B’s is about an hour and a half. Ours on the other hand is approximately 4-1/2 to 5 hours! So, good thing we made the trip the day before.

With some hesitation, Brian let me fly my window flag, and put my gigantic Clemson magnet on his mini. He’s more of a UGA fan (and Auburn fan), although this weekend he pulls for Clemson!

We got up super-early regardless on Saturday, due to fears of traffic. It was a noon game and therefore our tailgating time was limited. We maximized the time though, setting up the buffet and coolers by 8am. Brian had a beer in hand by 8:27am, as I eased into a mimosa. 

One of the traditions of Clemson football is the Tiger Walk, where fans congregate along the road from Perimeter Road to the stadium, and the buses drop the coaches, players, and chearleaders off for the short walk to through the crowd. The coolest part is the up-close-and-personal feel of the experience, shaking hands and high-fiving with the players. It’s also a time to see the Tigers decked out in their Sunday best, wearing suits and ties, and looking all sharp in their 80’s sunglasses. Love it.

From there, it’s back to tailgating, but Brian and I slipped off to Lee Hall, which is the College of Architecture building, where I spent 4 years of undergrad + 2 years of grad school. I had heard from a friend that with the construction of the new building out back, there had been some renovations to the existing late 1950’s modern building, so I was eager to see both! As it turns out, they’ve torn out the carpet and polished the concrete, shifted walls around on the main level, and added offices and classrooms to the grad tower. It looks great, but there’s a part of me that misses the old grad tower especially. Apparently the graduate students are currently housed in portable trailers out back, in hopes of getting into the new building. Here are photos of the newly renovated existing building...

The new structure was designed by Thomas Phifer from New York, a South Carolina native and a Clemson alumni, so it’s pretty cool that he was awarded the design. The building incorporates many green aspects with lots of natural light, skylights, geothermal wells, etc. A top-notch facility, for sure. And photos of the new building under construction...

We also explored some of the undergraduate studios to see what cool projects we could find. I really liked this model of an airport…

Once we made it back to Lot 10 (the Loonies as they call themselves), it was time to pack up and head to Death Valley! Brian and I had seats near the Clemson student section, thanks to Lindsey who works for the Athletic Department. We’ve sat in these seats before, and they are quite nice because they are sheltered by the upper deck, and are only a couple of rows down from the box seats, so you don’t have a whole lot of folks behind you. It’s fun too because the students really keep the spirits high, and we barely sat down the entire game!

Dubbed “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football”, the tradition of running down “the hill” is in fact one of the most exciting 25 seconds of game day at Clemson. I still get chills every time the buses arrive and the coaches and staff get out and rally around the rock. As the canon fires, the players rub the rock, and everyone barrels down the hill and onto the field while the cheerleaders cut flips, the band plays the Tiger Rag, and what seems to be a million orange balloons are released into the air, drifting through the stadium and out towards Lake Hartwell. It is truly a proud moment as a Clemson grad.


And we’re off… and uh-oh, the Auburn Tigers score back-to-back touchdowns in a matter of minutes of the kick-off. What? 14-0? Oh my, this is going to be a loooong game. But wait, Clemson scores! 14-7. Auburn scores, 21-7, and then by halftime, we are all tied up! 21-21. Phew!

Brian and I took halftime to grab a couple of hotdogs and Cokes and relax out in the concourse, great for people watching and chilling out. But before we know it, halftime is over, and the Clemson Tigers have scored a touchdown before we even have time to make it back to our seats! I won’t go through the whole game, but I am happy to report that Clemson prevailed and won 38-24!

No one was as shocked as I was! So back to the car for celebration! We tailgated for a while, and then hit the road back to Spartanburg. Time to see my niece, Ellie!! And my mom. J The next 24 hours were all Ellie-time, my favorite time. Here we are pretending to be frogs. She is so fun.

So today, the newly ranked #21 Clemson Tigers go on to play the #11 Florida State Seminoles at Death Valley, and hopefully the tigers will hold onto that aggressive spirit that they demonstrated last weekend, and continue their perfect season. Go Tigers!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Charleston adora[tion] - September 23, 2011

For those of you not familiar with my blog, I try to write a post about my town every Friday. This is called Charleston adora[tion], and the self-imposed stipulation is that I must have visited the place that I’m writing about within the same week. Spoiler: I’m cheating this week. Since I did not write the post last week, and I really wanted to share the visit that we had from Brian’s sister & brother-in-law from a couple of weekends ago. So, that’s me cheating. My apologies! Also, another downer, we forgot to take the camera! So all weekend, I was using my camera to snap photos.

William and Kathryn came to visit (sans their 3 kids),  and we had quite the weekend, with a late dinner on Friday night at the Tattooed Moose, a long bike ride all over town on Saturday with football and beer thrown in, a delicious special-treat dinner on Saturday night at Cru Café, and sailing in the Charleston harbor on Sunday. It was pretty much awesome.

© Sully Sullivan Photography

I’ll elaborate on the day’s activities, since those are the truly Charleston-love moments. You may recall that Brian and I have a tandem bicycle that was is my dad’s, although I hope that by now after using it as the mode of transportation to leave our wedding on, that we can actually claim it as our own! 

© Juliet Elizabeth Photography

Well, we pretty much haven’t ridden it since our wedding weekend. As it turns out, we moved out of Brian’s house and into an apartment, and we had no place to store the tandem other than our storage unit which is on James Island and thereby not convenient to downtown. Then we moved to our house, and it never seemed to make it over in any of our big move trips. Luckily however, William & Kat have a large vehicle that they were able to fold the seats down in, and rest the tandem comfortably over the back seats! I truly wish I had a photo of this because they managed to fit our 10’ collapsible ladder in there with it!

You see, with the tandem, and mine and Brian’s regular bikes, we were able to explore town by bicycle as a group rather than having to deal with parking. It worked out great because we first rode through Wagener Terrace and Hampton Park, then through The Citadel campus, through Hampton Park Terrace, and down King Street to the Farmer’s Market in Marion Square. We shopped through all the vendors tents and had popsicles from the King of Pops. Ours was Fresh Peach, mmm and we think that William & Kathryn had Watermelon Mojito?

t-shirt I loved for my sister & bro-in-law, who are pug-lovers

After exploring a little of the King St shopping district, we made our way through the College of Charleston Campus, past Colonial Lake, and South of Broad to White Point Gardens, where we enjoyed the cheese, crackers, and summer sausage that Kathryn had packed. It was a quaint little snack of a picnic, and we were able to take in the sights around us, including the harbor, a news crew interviewing folks, a student film production, and many, many college kids and families lounging on blankets & portable hammocks, and playing with their dogs.


From there we made the short trip to Southend Brewery to watch the UGA/USC game (Go dawgs!) and grab some beers. William, who brews his own home brew, took a tour of the vats with Brian and the brewer. At halftime, we decided to move on down the road, so we made our way down East Bay Street and ended up at Taco Boy for the 3rd quarter. If you ride your bike to Taco Boy, you get a free margarita (with the purchase of another), so we took advantage of that deal before heading home for the 4th quarter!

Unfortunately UGA lost… boo. We cleaned up and headed out to Cru Café, which is by far one of my favorite upscale restaurants in town. It is located in a Charleston single house, which gives it a comfy, cozy feel. This was also the location of mine and Brian’s first ‘official’ date, so it’s held a special place in my heart ever since. Kathryn and I each had the Ginger Seared Salmon and Lemon Risotto and the guys each had the Duck dish. We topped it off with Warm Flourless Chocolate Torte and their signature Cru Lime Pie with an Oreo crust.

After that feast, we headed home for a good night’s rest. We had a nice leisurely Sunday morning before heading out to the marina with Jeff & Katie for our sailing day. The six of us were quite the crew on Brian & Kathryn’s dad’s sailboat (Three Sheets). We enjoyed a nice trip out to Fort Sumter and back. We had packed sandwiches, snacks, and a cooler, and the afternoon was quite enjoyable. Thanks to Jeff & Katie for these cool shots from their iPhones...

And my personal favorite of my love... 

So really, what's not to love about a bike ride, a picnic in the park, beers & football, and sailing? What a great weekend! Until next time…