Boating Day!

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Plan Ahead for a Primo Day

By Deena C. Bouknight

With a 78-square-mile lake nearby and the coast within a few hours’ drive, there are thousands of boating enthusiasts within the Midlands. A day of boating is tons of fun! Simply allot some time for a little pre-planning.

Avoid throwing a bunch of stuff in bags and coolers the morning of. Make a list, depending on number of people, activities, length of time, etc. To make the boat trip even more enjoyable and memorable, pack some interesting items that are not typically used and consumed at home. Some suggestions are these:

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– GoPro! Film candid videos, as well as activities such as skiing, swimming, snorkeling, and fishing

– Bluetooth speakers and a festive summertime playlist for dancing or impromptu karaoke

– Several floaties… especially if boating on a lake. (There are easy-to-store items called Lazy Bunz, water mats that hold lots of people, and even an inflatable slide for the side of a boat)

– Bag of books

– Food that is easy to eat with fingers or minimal disposable utensils and packs easily in a cooler. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Individual layered salads (fruit or veggie) in plastic cups with lids
  2. A sealable snack tray of cheeses, deli meats, fruit, and cut veggies
  3. Chips and salsa; wrap sandwiches; barbecue on rolls
  4. Baked or fried chicken; and, a tub of cole slaw.

Plus, containers of pre-made salads, such as chicken, egg, tuna, or shrimp, are easy to keep in a cooler and can be eaten on bread, with lettuce, or with crackers. Many restaurants in town sell these salads in varying sized containers. For dessert, bring a range of cookies that will not easily melt or crumble, which will make it easier to keep your boat deck clean!

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Have plenty of individual water bottles, but also diverse and interesting drinks. Make easy to consume drinks that are disposable (pack a giant trash bag the night before). Cut up lemons, limes, and orange slices and store them in a sealable bag so that they can be added to any beverage for a refreshing twist.

A quality cooler, even though pricey, is worth its weight in gold on a boat. No one wants to drink warm beverages or eat food that is sopping from melted ice.

Don’t forget… sunscreen! Avoid frying on the boat all day by making sure a bag with plenty of sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses is on hand.

Boating is loads of fun, but can also be hazardous – especially during summer months when waterways are congested and temperatures soar.  Not to worry. The goal is fun! Just be prepared with a properly stocked ditch bag.

A ditch bag is a compact floating bag designed to hold critical items boaters may need in case of an emergency. Instead of just sticking items here, there, and everywhere on a boat, a ditch bag keeps necessities together to grab and go. Plus, a ditch bag is reassuring to boat owners and passengers alike; emergencies are prepared for, even if they never come.

There are several ditch bag do’s to consider:

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  • Start with a real ditch bag – not any ol’ freebee logo bag will suffice. It needs to float, and have plenty of pockets and storage compartment to keep items organized. It should also seal well. A fully-loaded bag should not sink or take on any water. It should also be a bright color and feature reflective tape. Reflective tape can be purchased separately and attached if necessary. Plus, an adequate ditch bag will have a tether and a clip so that it will not float away.
  • Invest in a quality radio beacon, which alerts the Coast Guard of the boat’s GPS position, especially if planning outings in the ocean.
  • Long-lasting lights, such as clip-on strobes and/or flashlights
  • Flares and/or chemical glow sticks
  • A hand-held GPS device
  • A whistle or other noise-making devices
  • Drinking water pouches that store flat
  • Emergency food rations, most important if boating in the ocean
  • Duck tape
  • Knife
  • First-aid kit.

Depending on the level of recreational boating and location, there are other items boating specialists recommend for a ditch bag. And, what is in the ditch bag does not discount what else should be on the boat for safety purposes, such as plenty of life jackets and a bucket or some sort of bailing device or pump. If a boating novice, it is a smart idea to consult with a local marina and other boating veterans to learn additional ditch-bag and general safety suggestions.

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It is better to be safe than sorry and invest in a well-planned ditch bag that will hopefully never be used.  A primo day of boating enjoyment awaits with just a little forethought and organization. Anchors aweigh!

 

 

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Patriotic Parties: How to throw the perfect July 4th bash

By Deena C. Bouknight

Independence Day has a myriad of party planning opportunities.

By the time July 4th hits, summer is in full swing. School is out, graduates have walked, pools are crowded, and gardens grow. People are ready for a good bash. And Independence Day does not disappoint with its myriad of party planning opportunities: a red, white, and blue color scheme, a festive patriotic theme, plenty of fresh produce, and outdoor cooking options.

First think about the venue: backyard, lake, beach, mountains? Where the party takes place helps determine food planning. Many Columbia families congregate in a home or condos at the beach. Designating who will bring what enables members to make dishes ahead of time so the July 4th holiday can be enjoyed instead of spent wilting in a kitchen.

And those planning for a lake celebration might consider the logistics of food hauled into a boat. It is a good idea to cut, marinade, cook, prepare, portion out, etc. as much food as possible into zip-lock baggies or some sort of plastic containers. Keep raw foods separate – if possible in a different cooler – from other foods and drinks. Store food in an adequate cooler that will hold its temperature to ensure nothing spoils. Plus, fill a bag will all kinds of serving and cutting utensils that might be needed.

Bring together friends and family for a festive 4th of July bash!

For a no-fuss, wallet-happy party at home consider these really simple tips from Real Simple:

– Do an email invite (or download a free printable one from various sites) that alerts guests to what will be served by you – and then ask them to bring something specific: drinks, paper products, a side dish, their choice of meat for the grills. If you do not have enough chairs, state on the invitation BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair.

– For backyard party fun for kids, a sprinkler, slip and slide, beach balls, a squirt gun station, and some bubbles do the trick. (All can be purchased at a dollar store.)

– Since our city is “famously hot”, supply home-made accordion-style fans made with red, white, and blue construction paper. Plug in some oscillating fans on the patio or deck, and throw some inexpensive washcloths in a bucket of ice.

July 4th parties are when even the least likely cooks can pull together clever, creative edibles that convey a patriotic theme. Pinterest offers endless ideas. Here are some:

Pull together clever, creative edibles that convey a patriotic theme.

– skewers with strawberries, bananas (or marshmallows), and blueberries

– red, white, and blue frosting dipped pretzels

– thick slices of watermelon from which stars can be cut with a cookie cutter and arranged on a plate

– a flag decorated sheet cake

– a watermelon salad with feta and blueberries

Set up an ice cream bar with red, white, and blue sprinkles and candy stars for a colorful, festive treat that will delight young and older alike.

Light up the grill for tasty 4th of July meals.

Concerning grilling, it is a matter of preference whether a gas or a charcoal grill provides the best flavor. Clean before guests come, and soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and rub on the grill Pre-heat the grill up for about 15-20 minutes. The temperature of the grill depends on what is being cooked, but the goal is to sear meats and keep the inside moist and juicy. Invest in an instant-read fork thermometer to learn when meat is cooked. Grill baskets are great for vegetables, shrimp, fish, etc. Prevent flames by trimming fats on meats; keep a spray bottle handy if flare-ups occur.

When it comes to decorating for Independence Day, choices span from easy DIY to elaborate and novel. Specialty party retailers as well as discount stores have the party planning in the bag with banners, buntings, and even hats coordinating with tableware and party favors. Or, go all-out with red, white, and blue paper lanterns, candles, flower arrangements with mini flags, pillows, and/or decorative signware. For a bold statement, make a large stencil of a star out of poster board or a flattened box and spray paint red white and blue stars on a freshly mowed lawn.

Drinks are an easy way to present the day’s theme and can serve as decoration for the table. Simply fill a tub or large bowl with red, white, and blue sodas, juices, or sports drinks. Filling bowls with red, white, and blue fruit also decorates a table covered in a simple white table cloth.

For smaller get-togethers, consider offering baskets of party favors; inexpensive patriotic-themed t-shirts, beach towels, handkerchiefs, glow sticks, koozies, and water bottles can be purchased at discount stores.

End your 4th of July celebration with a fireworks finale!

Seriously Though…

No party is enjoyable if there are swarms of mosquitoes and pesky gnats or flies. Prior to an outdoor party at home, have the yard sprayed or make sure to empty any standing water and keep all areas dry for at least a week before the event. Have bug guard towelettes or bug spray available, or go the natural route and mix up some insect-repelling lavender and olive oil for guests to rub on. Rosemary on the barbie – in sprigs or on meat that has marinated in it – mixes with the smoke from the grill and is also considered offensive to mosquitoes.

Avoid glassware; it and parties do not mix well. Instead, use paper, plastic, and Styrofoam. Environmentally conscious-minded hosts can set up both a recyclable trash can and a regular trash can in a prominent area.

With more than 8,000 grill-associated fires annually, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, it is imperative that there be a fire extinguisher nearby while grill is in use. Double check gas grills to make sure gas is turned off when grilling ends. Keep little ones away. Ahead of time, make sure gas lines from tank to grill are secure and that there are no cracks or leaks. Do not spray non-stick spray onto a grill rack.

Finally, always have a first-aid kit handy. Learn prior to parties if any guests are allergic to peanuts, shell-fish, and bees, for examples. If so, make sure they have their EpiPen handy just in case. And, if sparklers are one of the scheduled activities, have a metal tray or bucket handy where extinguished ones can be placed so no bear feet are scorched.

July 4th is a true day of celebration in honor of tremendous fervor for this great country. Enjoy  – no matter where you find yourself this holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Year, New Us

By Kirstie Boone

The large meals and long naps have finally come to an end, and it’s time to get back on track. We’re sharing our top five New Year’s Resolutions with you. Even more, we’re sharing how to keep those resolutions. Join us in making healthful and smart choices this New Year!

Workout: One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to begin working out or workout more frequently. Although many people make this resolution on January 1st, most of us lose focus of this goal rather quickly as the weeks and months go by. This occurs for multiple reasons, one of which is the motivation factor that must accompany any workout routine. It’s often difficult to find the motivation to go to the gym, but finding a gym that you enjoy visiting can be one way to maintain motivation. There are a plethora of gyms to choose from throughout the Midlands area. Anytime Fitness, for example, is located on Devine Street and open 24 hours a day. If you are a night owl or an extremely early riser, this could be a great choice. Doctor’s Wellness on Beltline offers group workout and yoga classes, as well as “Healthy in 12®”– a 12 week medically based lifestyle program targeting overall nutrition and physical fitness. Another option is 9 Round Fitness on Forest Drive. This gym offers a 30-minute workout consisting of nine rounds of intense stations that work each muscle in your body. Personal trainers are on site to encourage and push you to reach your goals.

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Where and when you choose to workout depends greatly on your goals, personality and schedule. The most important tip is to have a steady workout routine. Your routine may be waking up before the sunrise and heading out for a quick morning run, an intense 30-minute gym visit, or relieving your stress from a long work day at the gym in the late evening hours. No matter what your new workout routine is, take it slow and enjoy keeping the healthful resolution all year long.

saladEat Healthful Foods: Another popular New Year’s resolution is to eat better, more nutritious foods. To live a healthier lifestyle, working out goes hand in hand with eating healthy. Although this resolution is made every year with good intentions, it’s often difficult to stick to when it’s been a stressful day and you’re ready to go home, order takeout and catch up on your favorite television shows. The positive effects of working out on a regular basis will quickly diminish if you don’t follow a healthy diet. The good news is that following a healthy diet is easier than it ever has been. With websites such as Pinterest full of healthy recipes as well as restaurants like Good Life Café with many organic, healthful choices, the options for healthful eating are endless. Find recipes you enjoy cooking and eating. Prepare food in advance and treat yourself occasionally after a week of good decisions. Read our article from last January on how to follow a natural detox to get your healthy eating started.

Lower Stress: Stress levels seem higher today than ever before. We stress about work, family, friends, the economy, politics … the list goes on and on. Believe it or not, there is a healthy level of stress. Healthy stress makes us work harder, perform better and often accomplish things we never thought possible. However, when stress gets in the way of our goals, causing us to begin to break down, it becomes a negative factor. Often, the holiday season is a negative stress inducer. In our Happy Holidays article, Thomas Barbian, Ph.D. explains that the holiday season can often add stress to an already stressful life, taking away the joy and gratitude that should be associated with this special time. To manage stress during this time and throughout the year, Dr. Barbian suggests exercising regularly, eating healthily, getting enough sleep, refraining from the use of alcohol, drugs or food to ease stress, and breathing well. From a lifestyle perspective, Dr. Barbian suggests managing time wisely, making time for hobbies, learning to say “no,” and spending time with people you enjoy and love. Follow these tips to prevent stress in 2017.

Volunteer: Investing your time into an organization that is making a difference is one way to give back to your community. Finding something that you are passionate about and feel you have a lot to contribute toward is the key to sticking to this New Year’s resolution. If you are devoting your time to a cause you truly care about, it will be easy to devote time to the cause as the days, weeks and months go by in 2017. Volunteering at a local organization not only helps the organization and the community, but it also can be extremely beneficial to your own well-being. Helping others is one of the best ways to better yourself, and volunteering is a wonderful resolution to make and keep in 2017.

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Save Money: After the gift giving that goes along with the holiday season is over, the resolution to save money in the New Year is always a top priority. One way to keep this resolution throughout the entire year is to make and stick to a set budget. Accounting for every dollar you spend will help you see where you are wasting money and what areas you can cut back on to save money. If you have credit cards, make sure they offer rewards that suit your lifestyle. For example, if you are constantly on the road, open a credit card that gives you cash back for money that you spend on gas. If you frequent the grocery store for your family, a credit card that offers points or cash back for groceries is a great option. If you enjoy traveling via airplane, research credit cards that will give you points toward plane tickets. Talk to local banks and credit unions such as AllSouth Federal Credit Union and First Citizens Bank about what the best options are for your finances. Also, talking to a financial advisor about the best way to invest and save may be a great way to start your 2017.

Happy New Year from all of us at Columbia Metropolitan. We wish you a wonderful 2017!

 

 

A Thoughtful Touch

By Kirstie Boone

With the holiday season quickly approaching and the atmosphere becoming more festive by the minute, it’s time to begin planning for your fabulous holiday parties. Between the cooking, cleaning, planning and decorating, it’s easy to overlook the small details involved in party planning. Decisions such as which color tablecloth to use, how many seats to plan for each table and what the menu should be often overshadow smaller, more personal aspects of party planning. However, the small decisions are just as important as the big details. Little things such as creative, personalized place cards can easily take your party from ordinary to amazing, and we’ve gathered our favorite place card ideas for holiday inspiration!

Add a pine cone to your place setting to display your place cards. Wrap wire in a circular shape then attach the wire to the top of the pine cone to hold the place card. For a creative twist, paint the pine cones a festive color like gold or red.

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Visit blog.simplelittledetails.com for more information.

These gorgeous pumpkins are the perfect place setting for Thanksgiving dinner! Use twine or ribbon to tie the place card to the stem of a pumpkin. Bonus points if you use a fall-themed shape for your place card.

Your guests won’t “be-leaf” their eyes when they see this stunning place setting. Start by gathering large leaves or buying decorative leaves from your local craft store. Use gold spray paint to coat the leaves. Let dry, then write each guest’s name on the leaf and place at each setting.

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Visit mylifeandkids.com for more information. 

Use a small, potted succulent for each place setting. Attach each guest’s name to a short skewer to stick in the soil of the succulent. This place card holder doubles as a unique party favor that guests will be able to take home with them!

Ruffled - photo by http://shewanders.com/ - http://ruffledblog.com/malibu-calamigos-ranch-wedding/
Visit ruffledblog.com for more information.

For a more rustic place setting, use a cross cut of a branch or tree for your place setting. Use a marker to write your guests’ names on the wood. If you don’t have access to tools to cut up a branch, these cross cuts can usually be found at craft stores.

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Visit tarateaspoon.com for more information.

Use rosemary or pine sprigs to add a natural, simple touch to your table. These place settings not only look gorgeous, but also smell amazing! One option is to place the sprigs through the card, or wrap the springs into a wreath shape to place on top of a napkin or dish.

 

Jingle bells! Use bells to hold your place cards. This simple yet creative place card holder is sure to spread good cheer (and maybe a few jingles) around the dinner table.

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Visit jacolynmurphy.com for more information. 

Remembering the small details during the busy holiday season will make any party complete. With these adorable place settings, guests are sure to remember your holiday party as being the best of the season. Happy Holidays from all of us at Columbia Metropolitan!

How to Carve a Pumpkin

By Margaret Clay

People have been carving jack-o’-lanterns for centuries, but not always from pumpkins. The tradition originates from the Irish legend about “Stingy Jack” who cheated the Devil twice and got away with it. According to legend, Stingy Jack asked the Devil to drink with him. True to his appellation, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his beverage, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy both of their drinks. Once the Devil complied, Jack decided to forgo the drink and keep the money, and, putting it into his pocket next to a silver cross, he prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack finally released the Devil under the condition that he would leave Jack alone for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. When the Devil returned after a year was up, Jack again tricked him into climbing into a tree for some fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a cross into the side of the tree so that he could not come down until he promised not to bother Jack for ten more years.

jack-o-lanternHowever, when he died shortly after, the Devil wouldn’t let him into hell, and God wouldn’t let him into heaven. Thus his soul was doomed to roam the earth with only a burning coal to light his way, which he placed into a carved-out turnip. This transient ghostly figure became known as “Jack of the Lantern.”

All over the United Kingdom, people began crafting their own versions of Jack’s lantern by carving intimidating faces into turnips, beets or potatoes and placing them into windows and doorways to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. Irish, Scottish and English immigrants brought the tradition to America in the 19th century where they discovered that pumpkins, a native fruit was perfect for the task. In today’s era, the best way to carve a pumpkin is to first go with family or friends to pick out the best looking pumpkin in the patch.

pumpkin-carvingYou will need:

  • A pumpkin
  • A big spoon, preferably metal with a bit of an edge, or a fleshing tool
  • A design
  • A sharpie or an awl
  • A set of saws of varying sizes: at least one large one (a big serrated knife will also do) and one small one for the more intricate aspects of carving the design.
  • A votive candle, an electric candle or a string of lights and a jar

pumpkin-lid1. First, hollow out the pumpkin by cutting a hole in the top around the stem with your keyhole saw or serrated knife. If you plan on using an electric light instead of a candle, cut the hole in the bottom or on the back side so you can hide the cord.

2. Use a big spoon, plastic scraper or pumpkin-seeds-201098_960_720fleshing tool to scoop out all of the flesh, seeds and pulp. Instead of just throwing it away, look up recipes on roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, pumpkin butter and more!

3. Grab your printed pumpkin design (there are plenty of options online), or an artistic friend. la102021_1006_trace03_vertGet creative! While the toothy, jack-o’-lantern grin is a classic, don’t be afraid to branch out into other fun designs and faces. To transfer a design onto the pumpkin, affix it to the pumpkin and trace the design by poking holes with a sharp awl, needle tool, or even a thumb tack. If you have an artist friend, have them draw it directly on the pumpkin with a sharpie… just make sure that all of the positive space connects!

4. Remove the paper and carve along the pattern with a miniature saw or linoleum carving tool.drill-pumpkins4 You can also use a drill with a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch spade bit if you want to make holes in the pumpkin for eyes, or if you are going for a polka-dot design!

5. Lastly, wait for dark and then light your pumpkin! If using a votive candle, put it in a high-sided glass, and never leave it unattended. It is recommended to either cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin for ventilation or leave the top off. unnamed-2Battery-operated candles are another good alternative, or you can wrap a strand of 20 or so white lights around a glass jar. Secure the wires with tape, cut a hole in the hollowed-out pumpkin for the cord and place jar inside. Just remember to unplug lights before going to sleep.

Trick-or-treat! 🙂

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Sun-Safe Skin Care

By Kirstie Boone

With Labor Day weekend just around the corner and many of us preparing to escape to the coast for the long weekend, it’s time to talk about sun-safe skin care. Even as summer comes to a close, dangerous UV rays still beam down on your skin. If you are not careful, these UV rays can cause sunburn and an increased risk of getting skin cancer or melanoma. If you plan on soaking up the last little bit of summer outdoors, the only way to protect yourself from this vicious, ultraviolet radiation is by using sunscreen and covering up!

  • Cover up! Whether you are going to be outside for 30 minutes or 3 hours, always grab a hat to cover your face. The best way to keep your face looking youthful is by protecting your skin from the sun when you are outdoors, and the easiest way to do that is with an adorable floppy hat or a stylish baseball cap, both of which you can easily find in Columbia! Even while driving, sun can still creep in through tinted windows and damage your skin, so it’s best to cover up as much as possible.
  • Know your SPF! SPF, short for sun protection factor, shows how strongly a sunscreen protects from UV rays and how long you can be exposed to the sun before burning. If you use 30 SPF, which is the lowest level of sunscreen you should apply, it means that you can be in the sun without burning 30 times longer than you could without sunscreen. Be cautious when it comes to sunscreens that claim to have unusually high SPF numbers though, as some products might not actually give you as much protection from UV rays as you think. It’s best to reapply often, no matter what strength of SPF you use.
  • ALWAYS wear sunscreen! And be sure to give your skin enough time to fully absorb the sunscreen before taking a dip into the pool or ocean. Thankfully, society seems to become more aware of the dangers of not wearing sunscreen when spending time outdoors, so applying sunscreen isn’t as much of a problem anymore. The problem lies in not allowing enough time for the sunscreen to soak in or not reapplying the sunscreen after a few hours in the sun. Besides the obvious plus of protecting you from harmful UV rays, sunscreen can also keep skin from drying out in the scorching summer heat. The popular sunscreen company, Hawaiian Tropic®, makes a lightweight, moisturizing sunscreen that I’ve used all summer long. It’s SPF 30, and called Hawaiian Tropic® Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen. It doesn’t leave a sticky residue that some sunscreens leave behind, and it works great!
  • Reapply! Even if you don’t feel like you are getting a sunburn, it’s best to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Yes, even if you are nose-deep in one of Mary T. Dial’s amazing garden features in the latest issue of Columbia Metropolitan Magazine, you should still take a break long enough to reapply that sunscreen! Recently, watchdog Environmental Working Group submitted a letter to the Food and Drug Administration commissioner regarding sunscreen with outrageously high UV protection numbers. Their concern is that these unusually high numbers could be giving users a false confidence that they can stay in the sun for longer amounts of time. Higher SPF protects from skin redness but not necessarily UV damage, thus the redness associated with damaging amounts of sunlight is not present while UV rays still are. Whether you are applying SPF 30 or SPF 100 sunscreen, you should still reapply after two hours. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to sun-safe skin care.
  • Wear sunscreen during every season! Even if it’s the middle of winter, it’s important to always apply sunscreen if you are heading outdoors. In winter months, our skin is mostly covered by boots, pants, scarves and long sleeves, but our faces are typically exposed. This means that when choosing a make up for winter months as well as summer months, you should look for products that have sunscreen in them such as Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. This cream is an advanced anti-aging moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF 30. This product, like many others, moisturizes while protecting your skin from the sun.
  • Don’t even think about a tanning bed! There is so much research proving that tanning beds cause irreparable damage to skin. Fortunately, as we become more aware of the dangers associated with tanning beds, more and more sunless tanning products arrive on the market. One of the most popular products is Jergens® Natural Glow®. There are numerous choices within the Jergens® sunless tanner product line, which is all the more reason to stay away from tanning beds. Somewhat new to the sunless tanning scene is Rodan and Fields’. The company’s Essentials Foaming Sunless Tanner claims to create an even, natural-looking tan.

So whether you are heading to the beach this Labor Day weekend or working in the yard during the cooler fall and winter months, it’s important to follow all precautions when it comes to sun-safe skin care to make sure skin stays clear and youthful for years to come. What are some sun-safe skin care tips you have learned while living in our famously hot city of Columbia, South Carolina? Comment on our Facebook page with a favorite tip that you’d like to share!

How-To: Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator

By Claire Harvin

full refrigerator and very dirty

Cleaning, organizing and maintaining a neat fridge can be a daunting task — refrigerators build up dirt, germs and odor before you know it. With these steps and tips, this task can be simple and more manageable, and getting ahead of the mess is easy if you stay on track.

 

There are daily tasks to be done to prevent a smelly, overflowing fridge. These include:

  • Wiping up spills
  • Wiping off containers before storing
  • Checking for spoilage

Weekly, you should:

  • Wipe the doors, edges, top of fridge, and handles with a cloth and mixture of dishwashing liquid and water, or stainless steel spray if applicable, to clean bacteria and germs.

A full-fridge clean up should be done seasonally:

  • Turn the fridge off and place its contents on the counter
  • Take out removable shelves and drawers. Clean them in the sink with baking soda and hot water, leave to dry.
  • Clean the interior and door seals with baking soda and water mixture. Wipe off with a wet rag and dry with a clean towel.

* Tip: Don’t use soap or detergent on the interior, as food can absorb the scent.

  • Replace the drawers and shelves and plug the fridge back in.

Now its time to clean out the contents:

  • Toss expired food by looking at the expiration date or using these guidelines on how long food lasts in the fridge:

Meat, Poultry and Seafood

  • Bacon: 2 weeks, 1 week opened
  • Chicken: 2 days
  • Cold cuts: 2 weeks, 5 days opened
  • Fish: 2 days
  • Ground meat: 2 days
  • Pork: 3 days
  • Shellfish: 2 days
  • Steak: 3 days

Produce

  • Apples: 3 weeks
  • Blueberries: 1 week
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower: 1 week
  • Kale and Spinach: 3 days
  • Leafy Herbs: 3 days
  • Citrus Fruits: 3 weeks
  • Lettuce: 5 days
  • Melons: 5 days, 3 days once cut
  • Mushrooms: 1 week
  • Raspberries and Strawberries: 3 days

Dairy

  • Block Hard Cheese: 4 months
  • Black Semi-Hard Cheese: 6 months, 1 month once opened
  • Butter: 3 months
  • Cream Cheese: 2 months
  • Eggs: 5 weeks
  • Heavy Cream: 1 month
  • Milk and Milk Alternatives: 1 week
  • Ricotta/Cottage Cheese: 1 week
  • Sour Cream: 3 weeks
  • Soft Cheese: 2 weeks, 1 week once opened
  • Tofu: 3 weeks, 1 week once opened
  • Yogurt: 2 weeks

The following items should not be stored in the refrigerator:

  • Honey: Will thicken in the fridge, but lasts for 1 year at room temperature.
  • Onion/Garlic: Will soften in the fridge, but lasts for 2 months at room temperature.
  • Potatoes: Will become too starchy in the fridge, but last for 3 weeks at room temperature.
  • Tomatoes: Will become mushy in the fridge, but last for 3 days at room temperature.
  • Squash: Will last for 3 months at room temperature, or 1 week in the fridge once cut.

To take your fridge organization to the next level…

  • Group like items together
  • Wipe down every container with a damp cloth
  • Store based on temperature, as each part of the refrigerator has a different temperature zone that dictates what food should go where:

Upper Shelves

  • The upper shelves are not as cold as the lower part of the fridge, so foods that do not require cooking or already prepared foods should go here, such as leftovers and ready to eat foods. Drinks also go here.

Middle

  • The middle of the refrigerator is the most consistent temperature, perfect for eggs, which should be kept in their original carton to keep them odor-free.
  • The middle is also the closest to eye level, so if you want to organize based on what needs to be eaten, place priority foods, like leftovers or healthy snacks, here.

Drawers

  • Drawers are usually on the same level but have different humidity levels that dictate their contents.
  • Fruits should be stored in the low humidity or crisper drawer, sometimes labeled for fruits. They should be stored in their original packaging or a loosely tied plastic bag, with the exception of citrus fruits, that are fine on their own.
  • Vegetables should be stored in the high humidity drawer in their original packaging or a loosely tied plastic bag.

*Tip: Pat down produce with paper towel after buying to remove excess moisture. Leave them unwashed until eating, as water promotes mold and bacteria.

Lower Shelves

  • The bottom of the refrigerator is the coldest, meant for foods that easily go bad.
  • Raw meats should definitely go here, both to preserve them and to prevent contamination if they were to leak.
  • Milk should go at the bottom back of the refrigerator, the coldest part.
  • Yogurt, creams, cottage cheese, and other highly perishable dairy products should also go lower in the fridge with the expiration dates visible.
  • Deli meat should also go toward the bottom, either in the narrow meat drawer, if your fridge has one, or on a lower shelf.

Door

  • The door is the warmest part of the refrigerator, meant for less perishable items, especially not eggs or milk.
  • Condiments, dressings and nut oils are high in natural preservatives and therefore perfect for this area.
  • Butter and soft cheeses should go in the dairy compartment of the door in an airtight container.

Finally, here are some organizing and storage tips to help you maintain a clean fridge and make the most out of its contents:

  • Use easy view containers
  • Use erasable labels to label the contents, the date it was bought or made, and the date to eat by
  • Store microwavable leftovers in stain-resistant glass
  • Store food that doesn’t need reheating in plastic containers
  • If you cannot store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge, double bag and store in a plastic bin

 

Hopefully this will inspire you to take control of your fridge to help your food last longer and make you feel more at ease. Happy cleaning!!

Keeping Computers Safe

By Katie McElveen

edsac99.36-1367858015There’s nothing like getting a new computer. After all, they’re faster, smaller and lighter than what they replace. They’re also pristine, clean from the crumbs, fingerprints and smudges that eventually collect on a well-used device. Most importantly, though, they’re free from the viruses and other malicious programs, like spyware and ransomware, that, at their worst, can disable a network, rob users of their identity, scramble a hard drive or cut off access to documents or other data.

Dirt is easy to remove. Viruses, not so much. “They’re unfortunately a fact of life,” says Bill Carter, who has owned Silicon Solutions, which builds and repairs computers and networks, since 1998. “More than half of the computers that come in here are loaded with some kind of malware. Luckily, getting a virus or picking up some malware isn’t necessarily the end of the world. It takes some time, but we can generally get them out.”

According to Bill, one of the most common problems is adware, which mines hard drives for recent queries so that advertisers can target the user with ads. “When an ad seems to magically appear on a web site for something you just searched for on the computer, that’s adware,” explains Bill. “It won’t necessarily harm your computer, but programs add up on the hard drive and will eventually slow down computing speed.”

The easiest way to keep computers speedy is to minimize the chance of infection. Bill says the first line of defense is to consider switching from Explorer to a browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, which offer better protection. “If you’re not sure how to do it, just take it to a professional. For around $100 we can set you up with a new browser, add software that will secure your information and remove existing viruses.”

Then there are the viruses embedded in emails and websites. “Check every email you get very carefully before you open it, and the location of your cursor before you click,” instructs Bill. “Programmers have gotten very savvy. If an email looks even the tiniest bit off, don’t open it.” That goes for downloads as well. “It’s fine to have a Bible verse or joke delivered to your inbox every day, but read that contract before you click the ‘accept’ button. You might be surprised to see all the things you’re actually agreeing to allow on your computer.” Dishonest programmers also use malware to reconfigure screen images so that the cursor will hover over an accept button. “One second it’s on no, and the next it’s on yes, without anyone touching the screen,” says Bill. “If you don’t look closely before you click, you could be in trouble.”

Bill also cautions against downloading programs that promise to speed up a slow computer. “It’s just another ploy to get you to open the door to your hard drive,” he notes.

Although viruses are the number one computer problem seen by the techs at Silicon Solutions, they’re not the only pest that confounds computer owners. Since an electrical surge — which is often the result of lightning — can knock out the computer’s network card in the blink of an eye, it’s a good idea for computer owners to invest in a Uninterrupted Power Supply surge protector. That way, if a storm moves in, the computer can be shut off before a surge occurs. Laptop owners can simply unplug. It’s smart to disconnect computers and modems before going out of town, too.

Crashed hard drives also make regular appearances at Silicon Solutions, but, quite often, they’re just old. “Like anything, they just wear our over time,” he explains. “Although dropping a laptop will speed up the process considerably.”

Anyone who uses the Internet should be concerned about security as well. Bill cautions surfers to vary passwords, change them often, write them down and never email or text them. Backing up data is also important, although Bill does note that this is easy to say, but tough to do. “There’s no easy answer,” he explains. “There are cloud services, but they’re Internet based. Flash drives may not hold enough data, and don’t always work. The best advice I can give is to figure out the best way to back up the things that are the most important to you, like contacts or photos.”

Backing up data isn’t just important in the case of a crashed computer. One of the newest ways thieves are making money is to use a “ransomware” program to “kidnap” a person’s data — holding it hostage until the owner pays the thief a ransom. “The best way to keep your computer secure is to pay attention and back things up,” says Bill. “Do that, and you can avoid a lot of problems.”

For ways to keep your computer running smoothly… check out the infographic below!

Keep Your Computer Running Smoothly (2)

 

Jewelry How-To.

We sat down with Jewelry Designer Tiffany Anderson of Pixie Belle Jewelry to learn how she makes her beautiful, feminine pieces as well as how to fix common jewelry dilemmas.

A few things about Tiffany:

She loves to create pieces using greens, blues and earthy tones.

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Her resource in Columbia is Swift Water Beads (you can take classes on beading, buy tools, beads and leather)

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Tiffany says, “There is so much people can do on their own. I started doing this just for fun and read a book and just figured it out!”

 

How-To Make Gold-Fill Wire Hoops: 

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  1. Have a thick layer of 14 carat gold wire
  2. Wrap wire around some sort of container-sized object
  3. Use “needle-nose” pliers to shape wire around for the hook
  4. Use “flat-nose” pliers to mash the wire down flat
  5. Use sharp cutters to remove extra wire

For creating more intricate designs:

  1. Use a thinner gage wire for wrapping around the hoop
  2. Keep threading and wrapping the wire
  3. You can create different patterns, around the edge or bunch multiple wires together to hang from bottom, etc

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Why 14 carat gold-fill wire?

  • It lasts longer than gold plate
  • 20 percent thickness of real gold
  • It’s affordable, but high quality
  • It leaves no residue on your skin

 

How-To Make a Necklace:DSCN6139

  1. Measure out jewelry wire. A good place to start is 18 inches on the design board
  2. Stick jewelry wire through crimp bead (what attaches the chain to the wire). Loop in and around and put the wire back in the crimp bead. Clamp what attaches crimp bead onto wire and to the chain.
  3. Thread big beads through the wire
  4. Use crimpbead and fasten it again
  5. Clip extra wire as close as possible
  6. You can do a double or triple layer using the same technique (you have to be patient!)

Another technique: Silk knotting which uses no clasp. Simply knot after each bead. This lies a little differently.

How-To Make a Bracelet:

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  1. Use stretchy wire
  2. Measure out 5 1/2 to 6 inches of beads
  3. String beads
  4. Knot the end and clip as close as possible. Test before you clip!

You can even make a little set of layered bracelets if you like! This is a very basic way to do bracelets, Tiffany usually creates chain or leather bracelets.

How-To Hammer:

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  • Place wire shape on metal block to hammer
  • Creating matching earrings from wire can be challenging to design. You have to make sure they are the same size before hammering.
  • One end of hammer flattens metal while the other end creates a bubbly, hammered look (this requires special bars).
  • Tiffany’s most popular hammered pieces are leather bracelets with hammered metal and magnetic clasps

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How-To Fix a Clasp:

  1. Cut off the broken clasp
  2. Use a medium size gold-fill wire
  3. Make a loop with needle-nose pliers and tighten
  4. Add a new clasp onto loop
  5. Wrap wire to close loop
  6. Clip extra wire and use flat-nose pliers to make sure it doesn’t irritate the skin

How-To Re-Wire a Necklace:

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  1. Buy small delicate gold-fill chain
  2. Clip when desired length of chain is met on the design board
  3. Simply remake the clasp

How-To Make a Necklace with a Pendant:

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Tiffany goes to markets in Charlotte, Atlanta and Charleston and visits various websites to get suppliers

  1. Measure beads out on the design board (24 inches is great for a pendant piece)
  2. Take a bead and slip onto a small wire
  3. Wrap the wire to keep the beads in a specific place on the chain (or to add color in between)
  4. Use needle-nose pliers to wrap the wire
  5. Create loop on top, then snip the end of the wire
  6. Hook the pendant and wire through the chain and tighten with needle-nose pliers (Make sure to put it on where the pendant lies right!)
  7. Can mix up colors and go all the way up the neck
  8. Use needle-nose pliers to loop wire onto chain and twist it

How-To Use Jump Ring for Clasp:

The jump ring comes in all different metals (use wire on thicker chains)

  1. Grab the jump ring with both pliers to open it
  2. Attach to chain
  3. Thread clasp on to jump ring too
  4. Use pliers to close

If earring comes off of the hook… just tighten with pliers!
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