Family * Travel * Food

Certified Barbeque Judging Training Class February 18 in Columbia, SC

The South Carolina Barbecue Association (SCBA) will hold a one-day seminar in Columbia to train new barbecue judges. The seminar is Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the recreation hall at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1715 Bull St. 

Registration for the seminar is open to SCBA members with a $50 per person fee for the class. Non-SCBA members may join SCBA prior to or while registering for the seminar. SCBA annual membership dues are $45 for an individual or $60 for a family. A catered BBQ lunch is included with the seminar.

The seminar is the first step in becoming an SCBA Certified Barbecue Judge. After completing the class, potential judges will continue their training with hands-on experience as novice judges at four SCBA-sanctioned barbecue competitions. Competitions are held around the state at festivals and fairs, as well as other community events or stand-alone BBQ contests.

Those interested in becoming SCBA-certified judges and attending the Feb. 26th seminar may visit to register for the seminar and may also join the SCBA. 


Gourmet Gift Baskets Has Your Valentine's Day Gifts Covered

It's officially February, which means Valentine's Day will be here before you know it. If you are trying to figure out what to give the people you love, look no further than a delicious gift from Gourmet Gift Baskets. If you have been following this blog for a while, you probably already know how deep my love for food gifts is. I feel like sweet treats and snacks are a great way to say I love you. Gourmet Gift Baskets has a wide variety of food gifts to please every person's taste. They offer everything from chocolate, cookies, fruit, wine, beer, cheese, crackers, snacks, and more. 

Consider sending a deliciously indulgent gift with perfect pairings-- Valentine’s Day Chai & Bundt Cakes ($99.99). This gift basket includes:  
  • Double Chocolate Mini Bundt Cake - Qty. 2
  • Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Inclusions Mini Bundt Cake  - Qty. 2
  • Red Velvet Mini Bundt Cake - Qty. 2
  • Masala Chai Tea Concentrate by DONA - 16 oz.
This is perfect for women, men, grandma, grandpa -- just about anyone on your list! The treats come in a beautiful basket that can be used to store or display items around your home in a decorative way. It's like giving two gifts in one! Find it here

These mini bundt cakes are so moist and delicious. They are super fresh and taste homemade. My favorite one is the vanilla with strawberry. My girls both love the red velvet and chocolate best. They also love the chai served over ice with oar milk. 

Other gift baskets to consider: 

Say "I Love You" with this perfect gift. It arrives in a gorgeous magnetic keepsake box and includes a selection of delicious treats to be enjoyed with a glass of La Marca Prosecco. S'more Grahams, cheese and crackers, and Raspberry Mule Mix are included. Craft a Sweetheart cocktail and toast your loved one with this wonderful gift you can both share on Valentine's Day.

Okay, so this one is for some of the kids on your list -- or the adults that never grew up and still have an incredible sweet tooth (like me). The candy stash box features fun-size candy bars and candies in a fun keepsake box. When the candy is gone, it's excellent for storing jewelry, school supplies, or anything else. Make someone feel extra special with this box of sweet treats. 

Check out the full line of Valentine's Day gift ideas. There is something for everyone! 

Special thanks to our brand partner Gourmet Gift Baskets for providing a gift basket for us to enjoy. 

Top Vegetables That Are Easy To Grow In Your Garden

Growing your own vegetables can be a rewarding experience, both for the taste of fresh produce and the satisfaction of knowing where your food comes from. However, not all vegetables are created equal when it comes to ease of growth. Here are a few vegetables that are relatively easy to grow and tips for controlling pests without chemicals. 

Easy-to-grow vegetables: 

  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a classic garden staple and for good reason. They are relatively easy to grow, especially if you live in a warm climate. They do require a bit of staking or cage support, but once they get going they will produce an abundance of fruit.
  • Peppers: Peppers are another easy-to-grow option. You can choose from hot or sweet. They like warm weather, so make sure to plant them in a sunny spot. They also do well in containers, making them a great option for small spaces.
  • Cucumbers: Cucumbers are a great choice for a home garden. They grow quickly and don't require a lot of space. They also do well in containers, but make sure to provide a trellis or other support for the vine to climb. They do need a lot of water, especially if you live in a hot climate. Keep in mind that if you do plant in a container, you should water daily. Just make sure your container has adequate drain holes. 
  • Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, bok choy and kale are easy to grow and can be planted in succession to ensure a continuous harvest throughout the growing season.
  • Okra: Okra are pretty hardy plants and grow quite tall as they give off fruit. It is important that you check them daily to harvest as needed. If you grow about 3-4 plants, you will get enough okra to add into your favorite recipes well through the summer. 

To control pests without chemicals, try using companion planting, row covers, and hand picking. Companion planting is the practice of planting certain crops together to discourage pests. For example, planting basil or marigolds near tomatoes can help deter tomato hornworms. Row covers can also be used to protect crops from pests. And hand picking pests off plants can be a simple and effective way to keep populations under control.

Another tip is to make sure your garden is healthy and strong, this will make it less attractive to pests and diseases. This can be achieved by ensuring your soil is rich in nutrients, providing adequate water, and choosing plants that are well suited to your climate.

In conclusion, growing your own vegetables can be a very rewarding and delicious experience, and there are many easy to grow options available. By using companion planting, row covers, hand picking and making sure your garden is healthy and strong, you can control pests without resorting to chemicals.


Spots in Your Home That are Often Overlooked When Cleaning

Keeping a clean and tidy home can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many areas that are easy to overlook. Here are a few things that most people forget to clean in and around their home:


Baseboards are often overlooked when it comes to cleaning, but they can accumulate a lot of dust and grime over time. A quick wipe down with a damp cloth or a vacuum attachment can make a big difference in the appearance of your home. This is definitely a great job to have the kids help with. 

Window tracks

The tracks of your windows are another area that are often neglected. These areas can accumulate dust, dirt, and even insects. To clean them, use a small brush or a vacuum attachment to remove debris, and then wipe them down with a damp cloth. This is something I definitely plan to do after the pollen season in early spring slows down. 

Ceiling fans 

Ceiling fans are another common source of neglect. Dust and dirt can accumulate on the blades, which can then be circulated throughout your home. It's a good idea to also dust the actual ceiling right around your fan to catch any extra dust that can easily be missed. Cleaning your ceiling fans regularly can help reduce dust and improve the air quality in your home.

Light fixtures

Light fixtures are another area that are often overlooked when cleaning. Dust and cobwebs can accumulate on the fixtures, making them less efficient and less attractive. Cleaning your light fixtures regularly can help improve the lighting in your home.

Air vents 

Air vents are often forgotten when cleaning, but they can accumulate a lot of dust and debris over time. This can reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling system, and can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. Clean your air vents regularly to ensure that they are working properly. If this is something you do not do regularly, it might be a good idea to get a professional service provider in for a one-time clean. 

Refrigerator coils 

The coils on the back of your refrigerator can accumulate dust and debris, which can cause the fridge to work harder and use more energy. Clean the coils with a brush or a vacuum attachment to help your refrigerator run more efficiently. This is good to do at least once per year. 

Shower heads

The shower head is often forgotten when cleaning, but it can accumulate mineral buildup and bacteria over time. Cleaning the showerhead regularly with a vinegar and water solution can help improve water flow and reduce the spread of germs. 

In conclusion, keeping a clean and tidy home requires attention to detail and regular cleaning. By remembering to clean these often-overlooked areas, you can keep your home looking and feeling fresh, and improve the efficiency of your appliances and reduce the spread of germs.


South Carolina Aquarium and Aflac to Give Pediatric Hospital Patients a Virtual Aquarium Experience

Roving Robot Brings Aquarium to Patient Rooms Across South Carolina, Thanks to Support From Aflac 

Thanks to a new partnership with Aflac, patients at children’s hospitals across the state will be able to sign up for self-guided virtual tours of the South Carolina Aquarium, with the help of roving robot technology. Controlled directly from the patient’s in-room tablet, the robot will allow the patient to create their own path through the exhibits and enjoy an immersive experience from afar.

This program, piloted at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, is expanding to work with Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in the Midlands and Upstate. Educators at the Aquarium are working with hospital staff to arrange these robot tours during patients’ free time, long stays or even during their treatments. 

"It has been truly amazing to facilitate this experience. The kids are able to take control and drive through the Aquarium on their own exploration, when in many other aspects of their lives, they may lack that sense of being the one ‘at the wheel,” said virtual programs coordinator, Alayna Robertson.

Nature has an enormous impact on well-being, and the telepresence robot offers a bridge to connect patients with water and wildlife. Patients have full control of the robot, letting curiosity guide them as they move forward to visit a sea turtle at its tank window, look up to see a shark swim by or zoom in to get a closer look at the iridescent scales on a fish. They are able to speak and engage with the Aquarium educator teaching them along their adventure. They can even talk to Aquarium guests or wave to fellow kids on a field trip.

Betsy McMillan, child life manager at MUSC Children’s Health shared, “We were thrilled when the Aquarium team approached us about this program. The Lowcountry views from our hospital rooms offer the perfect background to this unique and educational escape for our inpatients. We are grateful for this amazing opportunity. What child doesn’t want to steer a robot and tour the wonderful South Carolina Aquarium at the same time!”

A generous gift from Aflac has made this program possible for patients at these hospitals.

“We’re pleased to help children in hospitals across the state experience the wonder of the South Carolina Aquarium without ever leaving their rooms,” said Bob Ruff, senior vice president, Group Voluntary Benefits. “Whether it is through our award-winning My Special Aflac Duck® program for children with cancer and sickle cell disease or initiatives like this, providing comfort and joy to kids who are going through medical challenges represents our commitment to be there for families in their times of need.”

Check out this video of the robot program in action. 

About the South Carolina Aquarium: 

The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston's No.1 family attraction, is home to more than 5,000 animals, from river otters and sharks to sea turtles and shorebirds, and represents the rich biodiversity of our state — from the mountains to the sea. Visitors can also get an inside look at the Sea Turtle Care Center™, a working hospital dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured sea turtles. While fulfilling its mission to promote education, conservation, and an exceptional visitor experience, the Aquarium also presents sweeping views of the Charleston Harbor along with interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.

The South Carolina Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m., with the last entry at 3:30 p.m. The Aquarium is open seven days a week with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and a half day on December 24 (open 9 a.m.–noon). Tickets must be purchased online for a selected date and entry time. General admission prices are $34.95 for adults (age 13+) and $27.95 for children (age 3–12). Toddlers (age 0–2) receive free admission. Annual Aquarium membership with unlimited visits starts at $99. For more information, call (843) 577-FISH (3474) or visit

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