traffic-2906245_960_720.jpgSTAY SAFE!

With the holidays and winter months just around the corner, many families will be packing up their little ones along with bundles of food and presents for journeys to visit relatives.

Don McRae, a former law enforcement officer and owner of a local driver education school, 911 Driving School, provided these tips for Columbia residents to keep in mind for winter:

  • Check your tire pressure: When the weather changes, causing dips in the temperature or unexpected snow, so does the pressure in your car’s tires. This can create potentially hazardous driving conditions when the roads already may be icy or slick. Keep a portable tire pressure gauge in your car and check your tires before every winter drive.
  • Pack a winter survival car kit: You never know when bad weather can hit and leave you stranded in your car. Some common items to keep in your car include non-perishable food items, kitty litter or sand for traction when stuck, emergency blankets, first-aid kits, flashlights, water bottles, phone chargers, and snow shovels.
  • Keep the gas tank half-full: Make sure that your gas tank is at least half-full at all times during the winter season. In the event your car gets stuck or stranded, keeping your gas tank as far from empty as possible will ensure you have a source of heat in emergency situations.
  • Tell someone your driving plans: In the event you have to venture out during a storm or hazardous driving conditions, be sure to let a relative, friend, or coworker know your destination and your expected arrival time.


cherry-pie-3384549_960_720Tips on proper care

By Virginia Newell

The fine art you own is a pleasure and an investment. A little preventive maintenance by the owner will conserve its beauty and value for many years.

Conservation is the professional term for preventive maintenance and implies protecting your fine art. Conservation starts with your knowledge about how to care for your art.

Another important term is restoration, which is treatment of fine art by a conservator. Restoration can arrest, and in many cases reverse, the negative effects of aging, accidents, and environmental damage.

Restoration is only needed when something is wrong with your art. This can mean your art is dirty, torn, desiccated, acid-paper burned, fungus infected, water damaged, or any one of many other categories of damage.

The professional conservator can be thought of as a physician for your fine art. But you must take the first steps in preventing major problems and slowing the aging process.

Basic tips to help you conserve your fine art include: 

  • Use your air conditioning/heating system to maintain a stable environment with temperatures between 63–73 degrees F and relative humidity between 45–55 percent.
  • Keep art out of drafts and away from air conditioning/heating vents and open fireplaces in use.
  • Keep art out of extended exposure to direct light, either artificial or sunlight. Hang art in shaded spots, preferably recessed.
  • Never hang art on damp walls, or store in garages or in attics.
  • Use only 100 percent cotton rag paper, which is also known as museum mounting, to mount your paper art. Only this kind of paper is acid-free. And never use pressure-sensitive tapes.
  • Consult a conservator about deacidification of paper art; this is another important step in conservation.

Protect your fine art. Follow these six steps and use a conservator when necessary.

Virginia Newell is founder and owner of ReNewell Inc. Fine Art Conservation in Columbia. A spotlight on her art restoration skills for individuals and museums, including the Columbia Museum of Art, is featured in the June 2018 issue of CMM, titled “The Art of Restoration.” 

“Grown to Dye” DIY Tips

By Deena C. Bouknight

Debby Greenlaw, featured in the March issue of Columbia Metropolitan in an article titled “Grown to Dye,” shares her fiber arts techniques for those who wish to try their hand at this old-fashioned craft.


Step 1:  Weigh the quantity of dyestuff.

A general rule of thumb is to use equal weights of dry raw dyestuff and dry goods (fiber, fabric). Light and medium values require less dyestuff.

Step 2:  Add enough water to cover the dyestuff plus a little more to allow for evaporation during heating.

Extracting the dye from the dyestuff ahead of time instead of dyeing the goods directly with the raw dyestuff prevents pieces of the dyestuff from catching in the goods or dyeing them unevenly.

Note – If  adding dyestuff directly to the dyepot, place the dyestuff in some type of bag (such as a nylon mesh bag). Natural dye powders or extracts go directly into the dyepot.

Step 3:  Heat to and maintain simmer for 30–60 minutes. Be aware that some dye pigments are heat sensitive and will lose their brilliancy at higher heat.

Step 4:  Check color after 30 minutes; check again every 5 minutes if desiring a deeper color. When the extraction is complete, let the bath cool down, remove the dyestuff, and strain for smaller pieces.

If you think that there may be more color left in the dyestuff, first pour the extracted dye solution into a separate pot or container. For subsequent extractions, repeat procedure using fresh water each time. This procedure can be repeated until no more dye color is released.

Step 5:  Ready for the dyeing process.


Step 1:  Place the extracted dye in the dyepot. If you’re using a powder/liquid dye extract, completely dissolve it in warm-to-hot water and then add to dyepot. If using a dye extract, the concentration level varies; this information is provided by the supplier.

Step 2:  Add enough water to cover the goods and so they can move freely. The additional water will not weaken the value of the color, which is determined by the amount of dyestuff in proportion to the amount of fiber.

Step 3:  Soak goods to be dyed in water for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4:  Add the well-wetted goods to the dyepot.

Step 5:  Slowly heat the dyepot to a simmer, and hold at this temperature for at least 30 minutes. Gently rotate the goods to allow even penetration of the dye.

Note: Special care must be taken with wool to prevent felting. 

Step 6: Check the color of the goods after 30 minutes. When desired color (typically color appears darker when wet than when dry), turn off the heat.

Step 7: Remove goods, gently squeeze out excess liquid, rinse in water, and hang it to dry

Alternative – Let fiber or yarn cool down in the dyepot overnight. Some dyes, such as cochineal, intensify while cooling.

Step 8: After you have removed the goods from the dyebath, assess the color of the bath. If some dye is still present, you can dye more goods in what is now termed the exhaust bath. Each successive dyeing will yield a color of lighter value than the previous one.

For more hands-on information about fiber arts and to learn about fiber workshops, visit Debby’s Flora & Fiber Handcrafting Traditions site: http://www.florafiber.live.

Boating Day!


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:


– 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!


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:


  • 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.


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!



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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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! 🙂


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!