OUR LIFE IN 3D

The Home of Daddy's Day Dare! ~ I am just trying to stay above water

Old Fashion Christmas

Does anyone like the new Stats page? Not me. Call me old fashion but I am used to the old one. I like it. It’s what I know. It’s what I like.

Is there anything wrong with being old fashion and clinging to tried and true ideas?

Last night we went to an annual Christmas party, hosted by some friends of ours.  Does anyone have those friends that love to entertain that they just take it to a whole new level? I know some of you reading this are that way.  That’s the way this couple is. They enjoy hosting. They love to entertain. And they take great pride in their final product.

Their house is always decorated for Christmas tastefully yet still above and beyond. They maintain an ‘old fashion Christmas’ theme. And it truly is! We enjoyed our evening so much the food, the wine, the decor that I leaned over to my wife, gave her a nudge and a wink and whispered, “This house is truly blog-worthy.”

So come and join us down Christmas’s past and a truly festive Christmas night.

I missed the pic of the life-size Nutcracker man at the front door of their house, but here is a glimpse of what you see when you walk inside.

enteranceSee what I mean by a theme of Christmas’s past? Here is a glimpse of their living room…

WP_20141219_017See the Santa Clause picture? Every single picture in their house is switched out to a Christmas picture. In fact, ALL normal house decorations are removed for their Christmas decor.

Like that end table, the toy blocks, they actually made them themselves.

They should be 'the first toy maker to the king" its a difficult responsibility..

They should be ‘the first toy maker to the king”…….. it’s a difficult responsibility..

The toy blocks actually do stack one inside each other for storage.

See the jacks on top?

And those skates?

skatesThe skates actually have wooden wheels. Can’t get more old fashion than that. 

And more signs of their handy work and their pride in decorating sits beneath their tree…

treeYes, that’s a toy drum they made to enhance their theme.

I swear, I have to take a testosterone enhancer every time I leave their house as I am so humbled by their wood skills, crafts, and initiative. I was so impressed.

Other ‘old fashion’ parts of the living room looked like this beside the entertainment stand..

santa from floorThere are some vintage dolls, bunnies and bears there. And the camera doesn’t capture the magic of Santa’s Sleigh, but that is brightly finished metal 3D replica, suspended from the breakfast bar above by fishing wire to give the illusion of Santa dropping his gifts and flying away leaving all to a ‘good night’.

santa sleighThe golden snowflakes also had the illusion of hovering as well, don’t they?

There were some vintage reindeer above the entertainment stand

entertainment stand

The walls had all the normal accessories removed and replaced with Christmas themed eye candy..

wall

I know, I know what you are thinking, where do they store all this? They told me they leave that to their little elves!

Even the dresser in the bathroom hallway has an old letter to Santa with it..

bath

The house was so adorable it was hard to remember we were there for a bit of a party.  The buffet line was equally magnificent

buffet line

With some very special ornaments there as well..

See the fishing line now?

See the fishing line now?

The dining room (and dessert buffet) had equally charming decor…

It looks like they were preparing for the King of Kings

It looks like they were preparing for the King of Kings

Joe and Deborah were truly spectacular hosts and we had another great time at their Christmas shindig.The atmosphere was festive. The food was 5-Star. And the company was the best.

And yes, I must be the guest / blogger from hell as I go and record the privacy of their home for the whole world to see.. or at least you dozen or so that read my blog.

Do you think I will be invited back next year?

I hope you too are able to recapture the joy of Christmas’s past and create some more new memories of the miracle of Christmas present this year.

HAVE A MAGICAL MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

christmas

Christmas In Charleston

Weeks have all run together this fall and suddenly I myself past the build up and heading in to the grand crescendo of the Christmas season. If any of you have never been to Charleston, SC (a.k.a. the Holy City, US most polite city, Charm city, Chucktown) before I wanted to introduce you to our fair town, and bring you a little bit of Christmas In Charleston, with wrapping and bows bundling wishes for a very merry and memorable Holiday season to all of you.

Grab and egg nog, a hot chocolate, or Bailey’s, put your feet up and come join my family as we prepare for Christmas in Charleston.

Merry Christmas!

citymarket

Now if you are not familiar with Charleston, SC, it sits on the coast in the state of South Carolina in the US. Rich in our country’s history, it is known for its place in history, well-preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants, beaches and mannerly people.

Charleston was home for the wealthy plantation owners in America’s colonial time, where some 2000 mansions from that era still stand side by side on the waterfront. Battles have been fought on its shores in both the Revolutionary War and the War Between the States, where the first shot actually took place beginning our Civil War. Fort Wagner, made famous in the movie ‘Glory’, is on the banks of Charleston.

I have called Charleston home for the last 12 years and each Christmas season I look forward to many traditions  in our ‘Charm City‘. So I wanted to offer you a glimpse to what our town looks like during the colorful and festive Holiday season.

1) One of the first things that sets off the month-long Holiday for me is the Art Walk through the French Quarter of Charleston. There is a strong cultural and art history in Charleston and quarterly the many Art Galleries open their doors the first Friday for the popular Art Walk.

artwalkSome 30 galleries, all with in walking distance, participate in this ‘roaming party’ that my friends lovingly call the ‘Art Crawl’. Each gallery offers a fine selection of finger foods and free wine. It is a chance to visit some of the homes and businesses downtown that you wouldn’t ordinarily visit. DSCF0082Many locals mingle and migrate throughout the downtown, going from gallery to gallery, turning the event into a roaming party. People dress to see and be seen, with the Christmas holiday adding an even more stylish flair to the event. When you are done you find yourself on foot among the many great restaurants downtown like McCrady’s,  the Peninsula Grill,  or Carolina’s, seducing you to make an entire evening of it. I love it!

2) But I can’t make it too late of a night as the next morning is the annual Reindeer Run 5K in downtown Charleston. This is a fun, festive, pet friendly, yet still competitive 5K race with the proceeds benefiting a local children’s hospital in Charleston. Runners are asked to run in their favorite holiday gear as they tear around the streets of Charleston’s peninsula.

IMG04

The race starts and stops at a local brewery and BBQ smokehouse. Afterwards a street party takes place complete with games, jump castles, a live band as well as some tasty beverages to replace some lost fluids.

It a great way to have a lot of fun, for any runner and a different kind of Christmas party taking place on a Saturday morning.100_1102

3. Another favorite event of mine, Holiday chore list permitting, is Holiday Parade of Boats. Local, and not so local boat owners dress there personal yachts into brightly lit Christmas showpieces as they parade around the Charleston harbor from one end to the other.

Parade-of-Boats-150x150Temperatures in Charleston are usually still inviting at this time of year to make this outdoor event do’able for the whole family. (Today it was a balmy 65F degrees)

4. Another favorite Holiday activity for me is the annual Charleston Strolls Holiday Walking Tour where guides take you around the stylishly  decorated antebellum mansions downtown.

holiday-tour

Like I mentioned earlier, Charleston can play home to some of the South’s mega rich.  A downtown street, Broad Street, actually quasi divides the peninsula from the mega rich (actually called ‘SNOBS) to the disgustingly filthy rich on the tip of the Charleston peninsula.  … Sadly I don’t live either places. I actually live several miles inland in a far more middle class and affordable zip code.

charleston_dining_400

As you might imagine these families have the resources and taste to do some wonderful traditional Christmas decorations and a guided trip around the peninsula helps to point out the lights as well as some of the history behind the families that live there.

christmas_in_charleston_two_meeting_street_inn

A funny story floated around town a few years ago where a new family had moved to the Charleston peninsula earlier in the year. At Christmas time they kept getting notes on their door from some of their neighboring peers.

It seems the style of wreath hung on their door simply wasn’t acceptable downtown and the ‘old blood’ locals were kindly suggesting that the newcomers change the wreath to the accepted style or remove it. Snobs indeed!

5. Even before we lived in Charleston we would make the drive to its historic Dock Street Theater to catch the Holiday showing of The Christmas Carol.

christmas CAROL

The Dock Street Theater was the first building in America designed for use as a theater, built in circa 1809. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.The popular cocktail ‘Planters Punch‘ is thought to have been created there, back when the theater catered to many of the Plantation owners in the area, prior to America’s Civil War.

Photos of Dock Street Theater, Charleston
This photo of Dock Street Theater is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The theater is smallish and quaint and yet well-preserved, to where there is simply not a bad seat in the house.The Dicken’s classic is always well done and can’t compare to similar versions on TV. It is an annual Christmas tradition here for all.

Photos of Dock Street Theater, Charleston
This photo of Dock Street Theater is courtesy of TripAdvisor

6. What is Christmas with out Christmas shopping? Downtown Charleston has one shopping district known as King Street. Among the many shops of King Street lay many of the local shops that carry practically anything.

Stores range from mom and pop convenience stores and eateries to large Macy’s, Banana Republic and many other high-end stores.

Three weeks prior to Christmas, King Street is closed off to traffic. A large Christmas tree and benches are placed in the middle of the district and free parking passes are distributed around the city.

king stretIf you want to do some Christmas shopping in the historic downtown King Street is the place to be, where you can find almost anything there…except…

snow

7. One final destination our family does every year is the Holiday Festival Of Lights display found at the James Island County Park.

1This is a three-mile trip around the park at night where no area is spared of some huge and magical display of lights. Many displays are sponsored by area businesses. The three-mile rotation probably takes close to an hour to complete.

HFOLSLIDE20123When you are finished there are stores and shops in order to help you ‘stretch your legs’. And it wouldn’t be Christmas to our family if we didn’t get out and roast some marshmallows and bake some s’mores before we leave. It’s a great activity for the whole family!

DSC_0396

So there are some my family’s favorite Christmas traditions here in Charleston. Certainly every one has their own set of favorites.

In trying to do my due-diligence for this post (steal some photos I did some local research on Christmas traditions here in Charleston and found some interesting ones that I can totally buy into!

So if I haven’t lost you yet here are just a few more local Holiday traditions that have been preserved in our historic town over the years.

she crab soup

1. Often called Charleston’s signature dish, She Crab soup is an evolution of Scottish seafood bisque. (OMG! .. oh wait). I’m on a diet) A rich-in-flavor recipe that melds succulent blue crab meat with a hearty cream soup that is finished with a dash of dry sherry. The dish dates to the early 1700s. Synonymous with special occasions, She Crab soup often appears on local’s Christmas Day dinner menus.

I personally think any trip to a downtown Charleston restaurant is not complete without trying their version of the She Crab soup. We actually went about town one summer trying to decide exactly who had the best She Crab soup. Such a chore! Certainly any chilly Christmasy sightseeing night is not complete without a tasty bowl to warm you up. shrimpgrits2. Shrimp and Grits is a quintessential Charleston recipe. Originally served as a hardy breakfast during the plantation era, contemporary interpretations of the dish are popular for both brunch and supper—and especially during festive holiday gatherings.There is not a single restaurant downtown in the popular Culinary area that does not offer their interpretation of Shrimp and Grits

Thanks to Chef Frank Lee of Slightly North of Broad (SNOBs), who shares his favorite shrimp and grits recipe here! (Serves two)  You can adopt this taste of Charleston as your own at your future holiday gatherings. punch3. Historic Street Cecilia Punch. Formal balls, a revered social ritual in the past of Charleston, traditionally took place at Christmastime, when the plantation aristocracy historically arrived in town for debutante season. The custom of presenting a signature punch dates back to the 1700s, and many of the recipes—Planter’s Punch, Tradd Alley Punch and St. Cecilia Punch—remain the toast of contemporary parties.

If vintage cocktails are in vogue where you live, why not offer a centuries-old libation to your guests this holiday season? Click here for this ritzy recipe.

poinsettia4. The Poinsettia, the flower affiliated with Christmas, is native to Mexico, but its geographical destiny came by a Charlestonian named Joel Roberts Poinsett.

In 1828, Poinsett was dispatched as the first ambassador to Mexico. The vibrant red flower of  Mexico fascinated the amateur botanist, and he carried clippings home to the Charleston. After successfully cultivating the plant in his greenhouse, Poinsett began sharing the exotic flower with friends and family.

Today the “painted leaf” flower is synonymous with the Christmas season across the country and is officially celebrated every December 12th, the Congressionally designated National Poinsettia Day that commemorates Poinsett’s work.

So that is some Christmas in Charleston my friends. I hope you have the brightest of Christmas’s this year.

I invite you to share some of your favorite Holiday traditions or recipes here in the Comments. Or make a travel date and come down and share some with us in Charm City (CHS).  Merry Christmas!

retail_respite_holiday_package_the_elliott_house_inn

Thanks to ‘Christmas In Charleston’ web site for supplying many of the ideas, recipes and many of the pictures for this post.

What now?

 Pop Quiz:

What do all these three icons have in common?
(Pillsbury_Doughboy)the Pillsbury Doughboy and the StayPuff marshmallow man..

staPuff Manthe Michelin Tire guy

michelin-man
and that insatiable cat… Garfield?

garfield

Give up?

Me!

I have turned into a frickin’ porker! A pig. An oinker. A fat-belly-jelly-belly!

Folks, I put on ten pounds since that post this summer bragging about buckling my belt a hole further; from running and biking and StairClimbing? When I felt so good I celebrated by eating two breakfasts one breakfast? I can barely even buckle my belt anymore!

Well no more! This fall I have become sloth-like. Saturday was always my gym day but College Football and ESPN’s College Game Day seduced me from the gym. I hadn’t gone in over a month. I suck.

So I finally went to the gym last week when I was off. I had gained 10 frickin’ pounds! So I ran 30 minutes two days in a row (I am also woefully out of shape now). The third day I spent about 5 hours doing landscaping work around our yard. So the next Saturday, you know what?

I gained an extra pound!!

People! This is sad! I was never going to be this heavy and this out of shape. Right before the holidays? Are you kidding me?

So I made a pact with myself. No more! And ten pounds over weight calls for some drastic measures!

Like no more finishing the kid’s dinner plates!

And also, no more of this…

tw8cev5

and this

no more

and especially

dbl brkI am such a Glutton!

And ALSO (sniff, sniff)

No more Happy-celebatory-goodnews-at-the-doctor-after-a-checkup rewards…

bye byeThis is going to be so hard, to lose that weight. The sacrifices. The will power (which I lost)

Did I tell you I am the official ‘taste tester‘ in our location of all new snack items that our company produces? As well as the official checker for freshness on all Chocolate covered Christmas pretzels, Christmas cookies, Chocolate drizzled popcorn and fancy tortilla chips there too? It’s a tough job sometimes! Who is going to take care of all these extras now?

Extras we got in at work this month like:

choco pretzelsand white chocolate covered pretzel cookies

cookiesas well as weekend chips and dips like..

late julyI don’t know how I will ever survive!

Even as I sit here and type this post I have 3 York Peppermint Patty wrappers in front of me.

Soon to join the 3 Reese’s Peanut butter cup wrappers that are in the trash can.

 So you see that last post / reblog of mine was no accident. Its time for me to start running and toning up and believing I’m a 12th grader again.

Every year about this time I sign up for a local half-marathon that takes place in February.

lighthouseThe reasoning is simple. The training it takes to compete in a half marathon should work off all the calories of junk holiday food that I inhale  enjoy over the holidays. Then I get an extra month of 45-60 minute runs to burn off the excess and slim down .

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Running for 60 minutes at 900 calorie workouts should do the trick, right? Right. …as soon as I knock off the late night beers and the rationalizing at the cookie jar , “Its ok, have another. You’ll run it off” mentality.

What do you think?

Do you have any great tips to help one slim down and drop 10 pounds real quick?

Did I mention I love eating? I am not so much a ‘foodie’ as I just enjoy tasting great tasting things from my restaurant days.

I guess I need to quit it.

Does anybody have any other suggestions? Anybody want to challenge this Biggest Gainer? Or run with me in the half marathon? (sign up Here)

Last year I did the race on a dare of a good friend as a way to reclaim my life after my cancer treatment. But it was February. It was cold; and it rained. The win blew. I finished the race but I swore I would never do the race again!

I didn’t know I was going to become such a porker!

I run like a Stalker don't I?

I run like a Stalker don’t I?

So, if you can, show me a little love, some encouragement, are a flat-out dare to help me get that belt notch back from this summer. Join me! Because the next three weeks this little Christmas song is going to pound in the back of my head.

Thanks for your time everyone!

Speaking of Christmas songs, what’s your favorite?

Care to share by Commenting on it or adding a link below?  … along with your words of encouragement? Yes?

Merry Christmas everyone. Prepare your hearts for the season.

I’ll try to do better the next time…

Stay hungry

Its that time of year again, lets go for a run!

It’s getting close to that time of year again….where we start to consider our health and fitness; or it will be soon. Lots of people worry about over eating (me!) or just eating too many sweets (me again) over the upcoming holidays. If you are one of these people its time to make a plan. Set a goal. Then go for a run.

Each year I indulge in way too many holiday feasts and sweets and ice cream! So every holiday my goal is to run a ½ marathon to run off all the calories willfully consumed during the holidays. All the training and then the running for 2 hours, is a great way to get back in beach shape and burn off all those holiday calories.

How about you?

I know January is when there are the most new gym memberships each year. If you are one of those persons, or just exercise on an off, I wanted to offer some tips on doing some cardio (running) to keep those clothes fitting.

Set a goal to run one or more 5K, 10K or half marathon race after the holidays are over. Running is the best way to burn calories. Your added training to complete your goal(s) are a healthy way to enjoy the holiday festivities and not feel guilty.

You don’t have to win these events, just finish and have some fun. You would be amazed at the atmosphere of other happy fitness fanatics afterwards. It’s like a party.

I have been a runner all my life. While I haven’t had a great deal of training in it I have acquired some ‘best methods’ in being the best runner I can be. I wanted to offer these basic running tips to you in case you are feeling the need to get healthier too. Certainly once you feel comfortable you can add more competitive habits to your training.

Here’s a great place to learn more, http://www.runnersworld.com/ where you can learn about ALL things running.

BREATHING : It goes without saying, breathing is crucial to running. If you are getting (back) in shape I always say the heart muscle is the first muscle to strengthen. That includes making your lungs more efficient too. Simply, you need oxygen in your blood. In a sense the oxygen gives you more energy. Ever notice how you breathe lots heavier at the end of the run than the beginning? Your blood needs more oxygen. So give it more!

When you run focus on your form (pick those knees up) and your breathing! Focus on taking deeper breaths before your body asks for them. It gives you more energy over a long run.

When you get tired, and you want to give up, focus on taking deeper breaths and give it another 3 minutes to get the oxygen in your system. It works! I actually adopted a running form from my 6 year old. When I chased her she placed the tip of her tongue against her upper lip and took off. For me, it gets my tongue out-of-the-way to take in more air. I look like a goof! But I am was beating 90% of my competition now!

Award for winning my age group in my hand ~ the plaque, not Ms. South Carolina

STRETCHING: I hope everyone stretches. The older you get the more you need this! Stretching is important both before and after your run. Why after? Ever feel real tight after a good run? Stretch those muscles out again before they clamp up. Your legs will feel MUCH better that evening.

Stretch a good 10-15 minutes before and after each run. The more loose and warm your muscles are the easier it is to run. You know this. Remember those runs when your legs just feel too heavy and tight to run? How much time did you do stretching? You just do your best running if your muscles are as loose as they were when you were 12. You didn’t have any trouble then, did you?

NUTRITION: Eat healthy, become lighter. That makes sense doesn’t it? Eat protein, become stronger! I take a weight lifters mentality to recovery. When you exercise you break down muscle tissue. You build that muscle up by consuming protein, hopefully with in the first hour after you exercise.

When I run hard I want to be stronger the next time I run to be able to run faster or further. Protein shakes or bars and some lean protein for dinner. Are your muscles hurting after you run? Give them what they are begging for…protein.

Don’t over dress, who wants added weight?

RUNNING APPAREL: This is not about fashion. It is about running efficiency. Most runners can’t run well when they are hot, or over heated. So think about how much you wear before you start out. Don’t over dress. It is extra weight, confining, and makes you feel tired because your body spends too much energy trying to cool you down.

A rule of thumb is dress for about 10 degrees cooler than the outside temperature actually is. Why? Your body heat will rise when you hit your stride running, right? If you start out dressed warmly, your body temp rises that much higher.

My ideal outside temp is 50-60 degrees. When it is over 75 I can’t run my best as I just get too hot…and I can only strip down so far!

Don’t run to win. Run to finish and have fun!

JOIN SOME AREA RUNS: You have worked hard. You have sacrificed in time, food, and comfort. So reward yourself. You have earned it, right!Take time to have some fun for all the sacrifices.  Join an area run! Or better yet, grab a friend to come along.

Most running events are fundraisers to support noble and worthwhile charities. You’ll feel good about supporting these! The charitable organizations want to raise as much money as possible so they try to make the event as attractive as possible to get as many participants (funds) as they can. Most area runs have all types of runners and walkers….all types.

These events make it fun to run with some great post-race parties, including free beverages, fruits, and giveaways! If I haven’t lost you, here is a great example of what I mean from a favorite local race. The first 2 minutes are about the charity and who it benefits (kids hospitals). The rest shows the fun Christmas themed run downtown as participants (and dogs) dress in their favorite Christmas running outfits and the party that takes place afterwards. Take a look:

Have fun with your fitness! It doesn’t matter if you are the fastest or slowest. (You won’t be the slowest) Just go to run. Run at a pace that allows you to finish and enjoy it. Then meet other running comrades at the post-race party. You’ll see, everyone is happy and in a great mood. And so will you! You did it!

Then you’ll want to run another one.

Post-race party after a Christmas run

There are lots of other tips in running but these are some basics to consider. Whether young or old, new or experienced. Have fun! Stay Healthy! Eat some more Christmas Ham…you’ll run it off!

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