Review Category : Contributors

Searching for the perfect Gumbo recipe

By Lee Scott

Learning the local cuisine has become an adventure. Eating the fresh vegetables, the assorted seafood and desserts such as Key Lime Pie and Lemon Squares have expanded my family menu. One of the most popular dishes around appears to be the gumbo. After eating Seafood Gumbo at various restaurants, Chicken Gumbo from the grocery store and Shrimp Gumbo from the seafood market, I decided that I needed to find a good recipe. Although I have found the ball jars with gumbo at the local farmers markets, I wanted to make my own from scratch.

I typed in “Gumbo” in the search engine and found pages and pages of recipes and instructions. It didn’t take long to discover that okra was found in all the soups. I did a little research and found that the term “gumbo” is a traditional word for okra, which I hadn’t known. Further research revealed that it is thought that the term gumbo is derived from the West African Bantu word “Ki ngombo”.  So technically, it is okra soup or stew.

The recipes provided some interesting hints, like always sauté the onions and okra before you put them in the soup stock and fresh okra is a must.  When I spoke to my butcher in the local grocery store, he told me which Andouille sausage to use and he said when making Shrimp Gumbo, always use fresh shrimp.  He said that the freshness of all the ingredients makes a difference in the flavor. I also got another hint in a book I recently picked up at the library titled  “Sanctuary Cove” by Rochelle Alers. In the fictional novel, the main character learns the secret to a good gumbo: Fry the okra in oil to reduce the coating before you put it in the soup. This, she is told, is the true Gullah secret to great Shrimp Gumbo.

But the best advice about my quest for the best Gumbo recipe came from a discussion with a local shrimper.  He shook his head at me and said, “Never mind about a recipe. It’s who made it that’s important. There was never any better Shrimp Gumbo in the whole world than my grandmother’s  Shrimp Gumbo. She threw everything in the pot and served it with corn bread.”

I thought about his comments and realized that no matter what recipe I use,  my grandchildren will remember that they had the best Shrimp Gumbo ever from their grandmother. Wise man.

Read More →

Why get a dog?

By Tracie Korol

The decision to get a dog is not something to be taken lightly.  While the sweet face of a puppy can tug our heartstrings into an impulse buy, we need to know, up front, the significant investment of time and money that little charmer will require. Socializing and training a new puppy is time consuming and, occasionally, frustrating. Working to provide all that is necessary to successfully integrate a dog into a family environment can increase the amount of stress on the family and the dog,

This is especially true if the primary caregiver(s) are working outside the home and/or have young children, are themselves elderly or infirm, have an elderly parent, or other persons and pets to care for. This does not mean that it cannot be done. But, prospective dog owners often underestimate the investment of time, energy and money required. Making this decision impulsively can lead to frustration, disappointment, and possibly result in the surrender of the dog to a shelter or rescue.

The first question you should ask yourself honestly is: Why do I (we) want a dog? Is your answer:

For my children: Trust me, this will be your dog.  After the honeymoon period the kids may play with the dog, occasionally.  Guaranteed, they will whine about dog-related responsibilities, doing them grudgingly, only after significant prodding from you. As children’s interests and activities change over the years, their level of involvement with the dog will most likely be inconsistent, at best.  Additionally, your children, especially, young children, will need to be trained in how to behave with the dog and will need to be supervised when with the dog.

For protection: The only time is it a good idea to get a dog for the purpose of protection is in professional or agricultural situations and only when the owner is humane and knowledgeable of dog behavior and dominant dog handling.  In all other situations an alarm system or security fence are much more appropriate and effective.

To breed puppies: The breeding of dogs is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.  If it is not your intention to remain responsible for all of your puppies for their entire lives, including being willing to take back and care for those that may find themselves homeless, do not enter into this endeavor.  If you are planning on breeding for profit, understand that there are much easier, more profitable and more ethical ways to make a buck.  Dogs are living beings and dog breeding requires a significant investment of time, money, labor, knowledge, both academic and practical, patience, and emotional fortitude, to be done responsibly and humanely.  Visit the county shelter and witness the problem yourself.  Look at the faces of the homeless dogs and talk to the volunteers and staff who, all too often, must take that final walk with them.

Because BreedX is cool, was in a movie, is unique and exotic, is free or cheap: One of the worst reasons to get a dog is because of their physical appearance or popularity due to a movie or TV show.  Often, these venues feature exotic, rare or unique breeds that are, in the overwhelming majority of pet situations, unsuitable as companions.  Also, remember that a free dog is never free. When your friend, coworker or relative offers you one of Fluffy’s puppies think hard about the necessary investment over the next 16 years.

Dogs require significant financial, physical, time, and environmental resources.  Dogs are not the fulfillment of ANY fantasy.  The responsibilities are legion through all stages of dog-hood and continue on after you’re gone. How many dog owners, for instance, have a plan, in writing, for the dog in case of their disability or demise? Your dog should become your Best Friend, after all.  Make the right decision at the right time for the right reasons and for the best possible outcome.

Read More →

Glorious October!

By Susan Stone

October is one of my favorite months of the year. Gardeners, joggers and dog walkers can once again be out in the middle of the day without fainting from the heat. We can finally open the windows and get some fresh air in the house!

Our garden tasks for the month are all about clean up and preparation. Here are a few chores you can do now to reduce your labor in the spring and to keep your gardens healthy.

Roses: If you haven’t already, stop fertilizing and pruning your roses this month. They need to finish their natural cycle by developing their rose hips. These are the hard round bulbish growths at the base of the flower. Once they have ripened (by February), you can harvest them for rose hip tea or other recipes. They are very high in vitamin C and worth saving or sharing.

The most important thing you can do for your roses now is to clean out the leaf material under them. Discard all diseased leaves. DO NOT THROW THEM IN YOUR COMPOST! This will reduce the chance of black spot and other fungal diseases later. One more thing, for all of our northern gardeners, in the South, we do not prune our roses back until Valentine’s Day. I know they can look a little raggedy, but please do yourself and roses a favor and get over it. If you cut them back, they will push out new growth and won’t have time to harden off before the frosts come.

Fruit crops: There are still citrus fruits ripening on the trees, but most of our fruit trees and grapevines are finished for the year. Collect and discard all of your fallen fruit. This is also not a compost item. Decaying fruit attracts insects. Many of our banana plants got zapped last winter, but recovered nicely. If you were lucky enough to get bananas this year, wait to harvest until just before our first frost. Our growing season isn’t quite long enough to harvest them ripe, so they will still be very green. To speed up the process, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple.

Bulbs: First, do yourself a favor and buy high quality bulbs. The cheap bulk bags are generally poor performers. You can plant bulbs now through November. If you have your heart set on tulips and hyacinths, you’ll need to refrigerate them for about six weeks before planting them in December or January. If you have room in the fridge, plant a small pot of paper whites to enjoy indoors. They will need a little more time in the cold (about three months). Flowers will appear in about 2-3 weeks at room temperature. Daffodils are still the hardiest bulbs we can enjoy year after year. Just remember that the squirrels really love them too. Plant your bulbs under chicken wire or other barrier that they can penetrate but the squirrels can’t. You can also try planting bulbs amid your thick groundcover. Squirrels usually don’t dig in groundcover.

There is still time to plant your winter food crops. If you missed the opportunity to plant by seed, the garden centers are full of potted plants. Lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and collards are just a sample of what is available this time of year.

Keep collecting your flower seeds and place them in paper envelopes to keep them dry. Label everything! If you want to sow some flower seeds now for spring, four-o-clocks, poppies, cornflowers and larkspur are a perfect choice.

You may send Susan your questions and garden wisdom to

RECIPE OF THE MONTH: The No-See-Ums are really waking up with the cooler temperatures so I am republishing last month’s recipe. Your sanity may depend on it!

• 1 oz. Cinnamon Leaf Oil, about $5 online

• 8-10 oz. Witch Hazel, about $1.50

That’s it! Put it in a spray bottle and shake! Adjust the recipe for strength. Test for sensitivity to the cinnamon, don’t use it straight. Too much of a good thing is still too much!

Read More →

Wherever you go … there YOU are

By Martha O’Regan

You can never get away from you, no matter how hard you try. And, to face more truth, you are responsible for you.  There is no one else out there who knows you or can take care of you better than you — not your spouse, doctor, parent, partner, child, sibling, no one.  You are your greatest ally as well as your worst enemy.  Only you can get you in trouble and only you can get you out. It is you who make choices, both good and bad.  So, you may as well just sit down and introduce yourself to all of you and decide it’s time to be friends to begin working together for your highest good.  Simple, just not so easy, at least not at first.

Martha O'Regan of Thera Vista

Martha O’Regan of Thera Vista

Admittedly, it was a bit of a bummer to become aware that I was a steward of this vessel that I inhabit each day. No more excuses, no more waiting for the miraculous alternative to exercising or cheeseburgers, no more “if only this, that or the other thing would occur, then I will be happy” statements.  I had to dig in there and re-connect with all of me.  “Mind, meet body … Body, meet spirit … Spirit, meet mind.”

Now that the introductions were complete, we had to figure out our new arrangement. No longer could mind override spirit in getting my body in gear or choosing a healthy alternative to that cheeseburger. Now that we had re-cognized our relationship, body became more in tune to mind’s ramblings to ignore spirit. As an example, mind says, “Oh, just turn off that alarm clock and skip the workout, who will know anyway?” Uh hum, spirit will, then mind will have to hear about it all day, eventually fatiguing the body from carrying the guilt all day.  So not worth it, better to just listen to spirit and get up!  Ultimately body and mind feel better, and spirit is happy — it’s all good.  However, I must say, this goes on regularly within me but as long as I know spirit has my highest good in mind, I try to listen to it rather than my mind.

What about you? Do you know all of you? Give it a try, have some fun with it.  Give each entity a name and establish a working dialogue amongst them — I have found that all three prefer kindness and ease more than annoyance and sarcasm.

As I continue to nurture this relationship within myself, I am continuously aware that this is my life no one else’s. Not in a selfish “it’s all about me” energy but an “oh my gosh, this is my life, what am I going to do with it?” energy.  I get to choose my hopes, dreams and desires and how am I going to achieve them and who will be a part of it. And, I get to relish in my own successes as well as learn from my own mistakes which allows spirit to remind me not to do that again.

Understanding that my physiology is directly connected to my thoughts, emotions and perspectives allows me to choose wisely for my overall health and well-being. Being a steward of my vessel and getting to know all of me is no longer a bummer but rather a gift. I decided that taking time for me, doing what I love to do, being with who I love to be with and doing it authentically with kindness and ease was far better than where I was before my “ah ha.” There is still the daily debate amongst the three of us, but now it’s with delightful banter.

I invite you to get to know all of you and enjoy the rest of your ride here on planet earth — since it’s where you are and you have to take you wherever you go anyway.  In Joy … Enjoy! Live Awake … Have Fun!

Martha O’Regan, is Your B.E.S.T. Life Coach, supporting you in creating and allowing the B.E.S.T. Life of your Dreams. Contact her at 843-812-1328 or to discover just how easy it can be to create change in your life. Visit

Read More →

Just a little letter to let you know the kids are all right

Dear Mom,

Last weekend brought the first truly cold evening and as I snuggled into my flannel pajama pants, I thought of you. This month is both of our birthdays and I remember picking and carving pumpkins and getting ready for my favorite holiday, Halloween.

It’s such a busy time of year and we have so much going on just at our house. The big news is that Selah started walking, and now she can’t be stopped. At 14 months, she’s as feisty and independent as ever, and she looks like a Mini Me, fat cheeks and all. It seems obvious that the sassy gene you passed down to me will live on for another generation, and also that we are totally in for it if she grows up to be anything like her stubborn mama and headstrong grandma.

What can I say about Wolfe? He’s 2 and a half and way too smart for his own good. He’s quite the character and jokester and makes us laugh often. Not going to lie, he’s going through a bit of the Terrible Two’s as far as pushing boundaries (which he does well and often) but his fun, vivacious personality makes up for the sometime naughty behavior. He loves music and his guitar and his tastes range from The Avett Brothers to Katy Perry.

Daniel and I are doing well, too. We still like to watch our family shows “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” together, and most days are divided up into work and taking care of little kids. Earlier in the year I was doing really good exercising and eating right, but recently I have fallen off the healthy bandwagon and increased my workload and overall feel like a crazy person.

I’d like to think you’re looking down on us and can see your grandkids. They are, like, everything you could hope for — silly and smart and active and sweet (and also demanding and exhausting. Why didn’t you ever tell me kids were so much work?) Sometimes I hope you’re not watching us, especially when I’m tired or impatient and the kids are fussy or whiny and something will happen, like the cat puking on the carpet, that will just send me over the edge and I either freak out at any unsuspecting animal or human in my path or go lay on my bed and close my eyes and wish the day was over. I guess every mom has moments like that, and it’s during those times I wish I could talk to you most. We would have long conversations like we used to, and then you would try to give me advice and I would get mad and defensive and sometimes even hung up the phone because I didn’t want to listen to your help. Ha, just thinking of how I used to act like such a brat makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I’m sad because I’m sorry for putting you through such hell (especially as a teenager). And I’m laughing because it’s not until now, with my own kids, that I can understand what you must have been going through but will never be able to say thank you for everything you gave me and all the love you bestowed on me, even when I didn’t deserve it. I hope to be half as good a mom to my kids as you were to me. I miss you and love you.

Always, Pamela

Read More →

Magellan and me

By Lee Scott

We had the opportunity recently to go off for a day on the water with a group of people from a local boating club. Our 22-foot power boat is a great vehicle to tour the Lowcountry islands and to spend a day with new friends.

The six boat caravan rendezvoused in the Morgan River and headed toward the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful, sunny day with calm water. We had our Garmin GPS chart plotter running so we could identify the marks and rivers along the way. We rounded Green Can 9 on the St. Helena Sound and headed for the swing bridge going into Harbor River.   The 15 foot clearance was enough for us to go under but we had to wait as the bridge opened and a couple of the taller boats went through. Then it was on to Story River towards Trenchards Inlet.  The scenery was captivating with large houses sitting out on small islands in the middle of green marshland and long docks leading out from hidden hunting cabins.  The wildlife was everywhere and the dolphins played on our wake.

When we reached our destination near Bull Point, we anchored the boat and everyone broke out their chairs and food. After a while, we noticed black clouds slowly coming at us from Hilton Head Island. As the clouds approached, the two of us agreed that we should head home since this was our first time exploring the area. We did not want to get caught in a squall. The rest of the group stayed put and did not seem too concerned.

Once again we were fascinated by the scenery and failed to notice the depth sounder and the declining numbers until it was almost too late. My boat’s captain, Magellan, who has raced sailboats in the ocean and gone up and down the coast, suddenly slowed the boat to a crawl and said, “Oops, I’m not paying attention!” According to our electronic gadget we were deep into marshland and almost aground. Thank goodness for high tide.

Once we got back out into St. Helena Sound, we were in good shape but the storm was moving towards Beaufort.   We timed it perfectly so that just as we were coming into our creek, the clouds opened up and we got soaked! On the other hand, the group we left behind had a pleasant day of sunshine and fellowship.

Next time, me and Magellan are going to trust the locals.

Read More →

When a treat is really a treat

By Tracie Korol

To our dogs, food is love — and security, affirmation, and reinforcement. When we give our dogs what I call “high-value” treats — foods that are especially sweet, meaty, and yummy-smelly — the message we want to deliver transports to them through the treat especially loud and clear. From a trainer’s viewpoint, I am ever appreciative of the ability of yummies to “classically condition” a dog to tolerate, and then even enjoy, circumstances that he previously found unsettling, frightening or threatening. It’s good to reward our dogs for a job well done. Plus, it’s fun for us to feed our dog friends something they’re crazy about.

The down side is that treats are probably the most likely of all dog-related items that we buy impulsively because the labels are so cute and the names are so clever. We don’t even think to glance at the ingredients. I would hope by now, faithful readers, that you routinely flip over any dog product bag to read the ingredient list, ever searching for the very best for your Best Friend. It would be counter-productive to spend time and energy finding (or making) the best healthy food for your dog if you’re going to trash your own efforts at health building with low-quality, additive-filled junk food treats. Read the label.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find treats for your pet that do not contain stuff that is not good for him including artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Healthy treats do not contain:

Artificial colors: Dogs are somewhat aesthetically challenged: they don’t care whether their food is brown or blue. Artificial colors are absolutely unnecessary.

Artificial or low-quality palatability enhancers: Avoid treats that use salt as a flavor-enhancer as well as treats that contain corn syrup, sucrose or ammoniated glycyrrhizin (a licorice derivative) and artificial flavorings like barbecue or smoke flavor.  Dogs are not as swayed as we are by the mysteries of barbeque and hickory.

Chemical preservatives: BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, sodium nitrate and calcium propionate are chemical antioxidants added to foods to extend shelf life and reduce fat spoilage. These chemicals are responsible for the “natural bacon-y” texture of some doggy treats and the reason why, if you left a bacon-treat on the dashboard of your car it would still be “bacon-y” pliable a year later.  BHA and BHT are also used to preserve carpet. The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) regulates ethoxyquin as a pesticide and prohibits its use in human foods. However, it continues to be used in pet foods. Propylene glycol is such a uniquely nasty chemical preservative that it requires it’s own call-out. It is used in pet snacks (and some human foods) to keep them moist and chewy, and to prevent discoloration in preserved meats. It’s also used as the main ingredient in deodorant sticks, tattoo ink, and is used in newer automotive antifreezes and de-icers used at airports. An interesting use for this chemical is to create artificial smoke for theatrical productions and training exercises for firefighters.

Healthy treats contain:

Whole-food ingredients: This means whole grains rather than grain “fractions” — wheat rather than wheat flour, wheat bran or wheat starch. Look for whole, named meats or meat meals — chicken, chicken meal — rather than by-products, unnamed sources (“animal” protein) or fragments. By-products and fragments of what animal would be my first question.

Natural preservatives: Vitamins C and E (the latter is often listed as “mixed tocopherols”) are effective and safe preservatives. Some treats contain no preservatives at all.

Natural sweeteners: Applesauce, molasses or honeys are better than artificial sweeteners, by far.  While dog food should not contain added sweeteners, a treat should still be a treat. A piece of baked sweet potato should be all the sweet a dog needs.

A treat for your dog should be a treat from all angles. Tasty, occasional, a little out of the ordinary and fun.  Try this: Next time you eat an apple, bite off a chunk and hand it to your dog. Guaranteed he’ll like that better than anything that comes in a plastic container.

Read More →

Study: Hip fractures less likely after cataract surgery

By Dr. Mark S. Siegel

After practicing ophthalmology for nearly 15 years and performing thousands of cataract surgeries, I’ve recognized additional benefits beyond better vision and spectacle independence: patients improve their ability to ambulate; cognitive function and mood are improved in patients with dementia and depression; and overall quality of life improves.

When older people have cataract surgery to improve their vision, they also lower their risk of falling and breaking a hip, according to a national study. People in their 80s and those who have serious illnesses such as heart disease are most likely to benefit — the research shows that these patients had about 30 percent fewer hip fractures in the year after they had cataract surgery. The study, published in the August edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared the rate of hip fractures in more than 400,000 Medicare patients who had cataract surgery with a matched group of patients who did not have their cataracts removed.

Older people are more likely to fall and break their hips or other bones, and recovering from such injuries is often difficult for them. Earlier studies have found that vision loss is a key reason for seniors’ higher risk of falling. When cataracts and other aging eye problems decrease older people’s visual sharpness and depth perception, they also lose the ability to maintain balance, stability and mobility.

People should never be regarded as “too old” to have their cataracts removed. Other studies show that after cataract surgery, older people tend to sleep better, be less depressed, and lead more active, enjoyable lives.

Overall, the greatest decrease in hip fracture risk was seen in patients aged 80 to 84 who had cataract surgery. Another notable group was patients with severe cataracts, for whom risk was reduced by 23 percent. Although U.S. health statistics show that women are more susceptible to hip fractures than men, this study found no significant gender-linked differences in fracture risk.

Read More →

It requires some intelligence to operate a Smart TV

By Lee Scott

Upon our arrival in South Carolina, we discovered that one of our television sets had cracked in transit. This was a perfect excuse for my husband to run out and buy a Smart TV. We didn’t realize that it requires some intelligence to operate a Smart TV.

At home, we opened the box and removed the unit,  the set-up guide and the user manual. Imagine our surprise when the first direction on the set-up guide was titled “Unpack — Taking the TV out of the box.” Right away we knew we were in trouble since we had failed to remove it correctly and most likely voided the limited warranty.

There was also a note at the end of the set up guide that said, “Scan this QR code with your smart phone to see helpful videos.” We burst out laughing since we don’t scan QR codes nor did we realize that those little barcodes were called QR codes.

Thumbing through the 34-page user manual, we discovered we had bought a unit that featured a Smart Hub, a multi-purpose entertainment and family center.  We thought we had just purchased a TV set. After all the precautions and features were read, we finally got to the page titled “Turning On and Controlling the TV.” Oh no! Another remote control. Every electronic now has its own unique device.  The remote control for my cable service provider has the volume on the left and the channel changer on the right. The new Smart TV remote is completely opposite.

It occurred to me during this process that I have lived through the television evolution. The first television I recall as a girl was a huge box that had two knobs. One knob was the on/off switch and also adjusted the volume, and the other knob was for switching to one of the three channels available — NBC, CBS and ABC. The TV set contained an assortment of tubes in the back and the television repair man, with his large box of tubes,  would come to our home to fix it when needed. It was all very technical. We have certainly come a long way.

Fortunately for us, the user guide did provide the Tech Support number so we could get some help. After we finally got the TV operating with the help from  Bob, our technician, my husband informed him there had been one thing missing from the box. They left out the TV repair man.

Read More →

A few hacks for your dog

By Tracie Korol

I love life hacks. You know, those “why didn’t I think of that!” things that provide clever solutions to mundane problems. My current faves are using a can opener to breach dreaded clamshell packaging in lieu of inviting a paring knife wound; stretching a rubber band across the top of a paint can to use as a brush wiper; and the one in play right now, a key ring threaded through the tongue of my pants zipper, looped around the button until I stop being too lazy to replace the zipper that won’t stay up.

Dogs have hacks, too! Here are a few that might make your life, and your dog’s life, easier:

1. Attach a carabiner (a metal clip that allows rock climbers to link together ropes and harnesses) to your dog’s leash or collar. Carabiners come in handy: If you need to secure your dog to any stationary object; if you need to connect multiple leashes to walk all your dogs at once; if you need to attach your leash to a belt loop to free up your hands.  And, you can attach your keys to your dog if you’re going for a run together.

2. If your dog is a manic food gobbler (and you have one of those breeds prone to bloat), feed your pet on a rimmed cookie sheet. He’ll be forced to slow down if he wants to hoover up every last morsel. Some hacks for this problem suggest placing rocks or balls in the food bowl so as to force a dog to eat around the obstacles.  Good idea, though I have dog friends smart enough to simply remove the ball, shoot the owner a “seriously?” look and continue sucking down food, and also dog friends not so smart as to eat the rocks, too.

3. Use a squeegee to remove dog hair from carpet before vacuuming.   Or, if you want to see how ineffective your vacuum is, use the squeegee after vacuuming. It’s amazing how much dog hair you’ll skim off the rugs. A damp rubber glove is useful for removing hair from furniture.

4. Don’t put your pet’s name on his ID tag. When your dog responds to his name, it only makes it easier for the thief.  Also, if you’re the only one who knows his name, it will make it easier to prove you’re the rightful owner upon recovery. A phone number on the tag is sufficient when your dog is already microchipped.

5. If your dog gets loose, do not chase him. To him, it looks like you’re coming along on his walkabout.  Yippee! Rather, lie down and pretend you’re hurt. Yelp, whimper. They’ll come back to make sure you’re all right. If that fails, run the opposite direction while making happy “come play with me” sounds.  They’ll want to get in on the game.

6. If you have a puppy or lifetime devoted chewer, wipe down exposed cords with eucalyptus oil, Vicks or Mentholatum. Dogs dislike how it smells and even more, how it tastes.  Some hacks suggest using Bitter Apple spray but I’ve found dogs tend to think of that as a condiment.

7.  If you like animal movies but are devastated if an animal is hurt, left alone with the zombies or contracts a terminal illness, go online and check the website for a quick heads-up.  Saves a lot of heartache.

8. Always, always reward your dog. Every time your dog does something correctly, a simple “Good dog!” is enough for your Best Friend to know that he IS your best friend.

Read More →