DIY on a Dime: Tobacco Leaf and Leopard Pumpkins


DIY on a Dime: Glam Tobacco Leaf and Leopard Pumpkins

Quick and Easy Dollar Store Decor

Hi loves! I hope you all enjoyed last week’s DIY on a Dime Fall Wreath. If you’ve been following along, you know that i recently installed some wainscoting in my dining room this summer. So, I’ve been working on a few projects in an effort to get it ready for the holiday season. You all know how much I love my pink and navy, and color overall. Every Fall, I struggle with incorporating decor that I really like, that doesn’t clash with my main color scheme. I’ve seen a few bloggers do some chinoiserie pumpkins and thought that was cute, but I need a little more glam. Soooooo…..I opted for some tobacco leaf and leopard!!! I’m so happy with how they came out! I jazzed them up with some gold stems and pheasant feathers and I think they’re going to look amazing once I do my actual tablescape.

Here’s a little info on the tobacco leaf print…

Mottahedeh Tobacco Leaf Dinnerware Collection  Image:  Williams Sonoma

Mottahedeh Tobacco Leaf Dinnerware Collection

Image: Williams Sonoma

The tobacco leaf print is likely from the 18th Century, during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty. According to a 1989 article by the New York Times, the tobacco leaf china was created for export to Portuguese and Brazilian markets. I love the bright and rich colors fo the china, showing a phoenix resting on a tobacco leaf of a nicotiana flower. Although now replicas of the Chinese porcelain plates, replicas by Mottahedeh Fine Dinnerware will set you back an easy $600. As you can imagine, finding a tobacco leaf pumpkin is nearly impossible or too costly. Here’s a Tobacco leaf pumpkin for almost $150!

tobacco leaf pumpkin.jpeg

Then, there’s leopard print. I LOVE leopard print. Leopard print has become so popular, particular in home design and textiles, that it’s viewed as a neutral. The same goes for fashion. You can wear leopard print shoes, or a coat with any color and you’ll look great. I wanted to make some mini leopard print pumpkins to go with the tobacco leaf and mellow the table out, so it won’t be too much color, if that’s possible. Keep in mind, that whatever design you choose will be sitting on the table with the rest of your tablescape. Also, I couldn’t find any cute leopard print pumpkins anywhere. So, that’s when you just make your own!

Time: 1 Hour | Cost: Under $25.00

What You’ll Need:

This project is very simple and can be completed with your babes as n arts and crafts project!


Step One: Paint Stems and Pumpkins

The pumpkins I picked up at the dollar store were a very bright orange. So, I decided to use some leftover white spray paint that I had from a previous project. I put them in the sun and allowed them to air dry for approximately 1 - 2 hours, before getting started.

Next, remove the stems from the pumpkins. These foam pumpkins from the dollar store hold the stem in place with a toothpick, so very easy to remove and place back on. The smaller plastic pumpkin had plug for stem. Then, I spray painted the pumpkin stems a metallic gold.


Step Two: Cover with Mod Podge

Next, I completely covered the entire pumpkins with Mod Podge. You should only do one pumpkin at a time. Using the smaller foam brush, generously put the paste all over the pumpkin.


Step Three: Cover with Napkin

Then, using the larger or medium sized foam brush, you’ll place the center of your napkin at the center of the pumpkin. Using the brush, press down gently and have napkin cover the entire pumpkin. As an option, you can use your scissors and cut excess paper.


I then put a quarter size drop of Mod Podge at the center of the pumpkin where the stem should be. I glued four pheasant feathers at the center, and then reinserted the stem.


Step Four: Allow to Dry

Now, let your pumpkins dry for a couple of hours before you set them out on your festive holiday table. Let me know if you end up doing this easy project!


DIY on a Dime: Pink and Navy Fall Wreath for Less


DIY on a Dime: Fall Wreath for Less

Your $200 Fall Wreath for Under $40

Happy Fall! For those of you who have been following, you know that my the main floor of my home is loaded down in grey, navy, and pink. Every holiday season, I’m ready to whip out the Fall and Winter decor, but traditional colors, like red, orange and yellow clash with my decor. Not only that, but I’m obsessed with so many talented artisans on Etsy, who have great seasonal decor; BUT, they are way out of my price range. Your average autumn wreath will set you back an easy $200.00 or more. I can think of a million other things I can easily spend that much money on, and a wreath just isn’t it. Naturally, I thought, I can definitely make some of these myself, for much less.

Sure enough, I stopped by Michael’s and picked up these products, and was able to make my wreath in about an hour (and under $40 thanks to their ongoing sales and coupons).

What You’ll Need:

  • wreath

  • navy gingham ribbon

  • pink solid ribbon

  • magenta velvet pumpkins

  • navy pom poms

  • faux berries

  • magenta hydrangea

  • navy peony

  • twine


Step One: Cut Branches from Berry Bushes

Your faux berry bush comes as one large wired stem, with several branches. Cut the branches from the main plastic stem, separating them individually.


Step Two: Begin forming your Bundle

After cutting each branch from the plastic stem, begin arranging your florals. I started with one magenta and one blue berry stem each, then adding the navy pom poms. Continue adding to your bundle. You will need three bundles of your cut stems.


Step Three: Place Bundles on Wreath

Once you bundle your branches, apply them to the desired place on the wreath. I placed my first bundle at the top part of the wreath, with the florals facing to the right. Next, I attached the branches to the wreath with twine.


Step Four: Ensure All Bundles are Fastened

After fastening one bundle of branches to the top of the wreath, I attached two bundles to the left side of the wreath, like below.


Step Five: Add Ribbons

Take the larger ribbon (solid pink) and tie a bow over the twine, in both places.


Step Six: Add Large Florals

Cut the head of the flower from the long stem, leaving about 0.25 - 0.5 an inch of stem. Next, place stem in between vines of the wreath, so it holds in place.


Go ahead and hang it up (and get to decorating that front porch!).


Southern Charm: Charleston Coastal Home Must Haves


Southern Charm: Charleston Coastal Home Must Haves

10 tips to make your home feel like Charleston charm.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, when I travel, I love to capture historical architecture of the homes in the area. Besides amazing food, Charleston is known for it’s beautiful homes, dating back to the revolution. Similar to my hometown of Baltimore, Charleston has federal or Georgian homes, dating back to the 1700s, and its famous 1800s single family carriage homes, where the piazzas are intentionally built on the side to allow airflow from the Charleston harbor.

As I toured the homes South of Broad, I noticed that so many homes had the same elements, giving it that “Charleston charm.” If you’re a fan of HGTV’s Good Bones like me, you know that this season, Mina Starsiak Hawk built her forever home, which replicated a Charleston single family carriage home with large piazzas accompanied with blue porch ceilings, iron fencing, and traditional and modern decor elements. I love how she pieced everything together, using lots of color, but still giving all the southern feels.

You guys know how much I love coastal decor, and often dream of a lake or beach home. Charleston coastal decor is different from nautical in the sense that you’re adding MORE color than your traditional navies and whites, and you’re adding lots of tropical accents like pineapples and palmettos.

Here’s a quick top 10 list of things you can do to make your home feel like it’s South of Broad, and belongs in Southern Living!


Step One: Bright Pastel Exterior Color

Every home in downtown Charleston and South of Broad were painted in beautiful pastel colors that exemplified the gorgeous sunsets overlooking Charleston’s beaches. If you’re going for a the look of a Charleston home, you’ve got to get the color right. Think soft whites, pinks, yellows, blues and greens.

Check out these gorgeous coastal exterior colors, from Sherwin Williams.


Step Two: Perfect Piazzas

Single family carriage homes have large piazzas for entertaining. Think multiple seating areas, with different purposes, like rocking chairs, sofas, and swing benches. The ceilings of the piazzas are painted a light blue to mimic Charleston’s blue skies and the Atlantic Ocean.

Create the perfect piazzas with these options:


Step Three: Daring Front Doors

Charleston home owners are all about curb appeal, and their front doors get a lot of attention. Yes, you can do a bright color exterior paint on your front door, but you know what simple accent stood out on almost every one? Door knockers! So many homes had brass door knockers, and while some were traditional colonial style, many had their lucky pineapple knockers. I also saw a lot of lion brass door knockers. It is said that lions represented the British empire of King “Lionheart” Richard during the 1600s; and, three golden lions represent the coat of arms for the British monarch today. So, it’s possible that many of the shipping merchants that emigrated from England chose this symbol as a reminder of their previous colonies.

Check out these eye catching door knockers:


Step Four: Pineapple Finials

According to Charleston natives, the pineapple is kind of a big deal. It’s become a part of their culture and represents southern hospitality. After sea captains would return from their voyages, they would place a pineapple on top of a stick, in front of their home, indicating that the home was open to visitors. Thus, when you take a trip to downtown Charleston or the French Quarter, you’ll find tons of homes with pineapple finials atop a gate post or a courtyard fountain.

You can find pineapple exterior finials here:


Step Five: Gas Lanterns

Did you know that Baltimore was the first U.S. city to have gas lanterns, after London and Paris? The United States began using gas lighting around 1816 and quickly found its way to Charleston streets. When you do a home tour South of Broad, almost every home has exterior gas lanterns. Gas lanterns are a low country staple, much like pineapple finials and blue porch ceilings.


Find traditional oil lamps here:


Step Six: Ornate Iron Gate

During the 1800s, wealthy shipping merchants living in downtown Charleston insisted on having cast iron for their courtyard gates and garden entrances. Like many of the craftsmanship you’ll find in these historical colonial homes, slaves built these ornate fixtures that still stand today.

There are many blacksmiths in Charleston today, that specialize in iron fencing. Here are some options available online, or that can at least get your creative juices flowing so you can show them to your local fencing company:


Step Seven: Window Box Treatments

Summer may be over in the northeast, but I still needed to share these gorgeous window box planters. As you can see, homeowners plant gorgeous and colorful florals, like petunias, to compliment their pastel exterior paint choices.

Easy to order window boxes here:


Step Eight: Traditional Elements

If you subscribe to Southern Living or Charleston Magazine, then you know many Charlestonians incorporate traditional decor design into their homes. Think cherry wood and gold ornate hardware and fixtures.


If you like traditional style, then you’ll love these:


Step Nine: Tropical Accents

But, Charleston homes are not all traditional. If you prefer transitional style like me, incorporate color and tropical accents that will brighten up your space and give it that true coastal vibe. This is going to be more pineapples, palmettos, beachy art prints, with coral and ocean tones.


Get beach vibes all day, here:


Step Ten: Chinoiserie Madness

Lastly, your Charleston home replica will need some chinoiserie vases. Chinoiserie ginger jars are generally a staple for traditional styled homes; however, they’ve become more and more popular over the years, often incorporated in transitional rooms. If you visit Charleston and follow my tour guide, be sure to stop at the Charleston Historic Foundation and get your shopping on. They have tons of chinoiserie vases, ginger jars and china.


Check out some of my chinoiserie favorites here:


Back to School: The Nickel Boys and Jim Crow Florida


The Nickel Boys Book Review

by Colson Whitehead

Author: Colson Whitehead | Genre: Fiction | Published: August 2019

My September book review is the talented Colson Whitehead’s, The Nickel Boys. The Nickel Boys takes place in Tallahassee, Florida during Jim Crow. The story opens with the discovery of graves on the site of the Nickel Academy, the fictitious version of the real-life Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. The old skeletons are unidentified, and so Whitehead begins the story of Elwood and Turner, two friends who meet at the Nickel Academy years before the bones appeared.

Elwood, abandoned by his mother and father, and raised by his grandmother, is mesmerized by the teachings of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King and holds on to optimism that equality will come to Florida. However, one unfortunate night lands him in the back of a patrol car and he is sentenced to a juvenile reformation school, known as the Nickel Academy. There, Elwood meets Turner, who is now on his second term at the school and has less optimism regarding their fate both inside and outside the school’s walls.

What I Liked…

It was evident by Whitehead’s writings that he did his research regarding the turmoil Black boys faced when they attended the segregated reform school. While I may not have lived during the egregious era, I’ve inherited countless stories from my father, who was raised in Florida during Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. The descriptions of racism Elwood, Turner and the other characters faced was not only reminiscent of stories my father shared of his childhood in Florida, but it was a fresh reminder racism is embedded in American culture, and rears its ugly head in all institutions. Despite being a historical novel, I found it relatable and haunting. At only 200 pages, it is definitely worth a read.

Elwood’s grandmother might not be there when he got out. This had never occurred to him before. She was rarely sick, and when she was, she refused to stay off her feet. She was a survivor but the world took her in bites. Her husband had died young, her daughter had vanished out West, and now her only grandson had been sentenced to this place. She had swallowed the portion of misery the world had given her, and now there she was, alone on Brevard Street, her family tugged away one by one. she might not be there.

What I Didn’t Like…

If you’re not crazy about period pieces, then this book is not for you. Whitehead’s books seem to almost always take place in a historical setting (e.g., The Underground Railroad). Although I am a lover of fiction, I sometimes become easily bored with historical novels. Nonetheless, I preferred The Nickel Boys over The Underground Railroad. I’m not sure if this is because, in all honesty, Jim Crow wasn’t that long ago…

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DIY on a Dime: Wainscoting My Dining Room Feature Wall


DIY on a Dime

Wainscoting My Dining Room Feature Wall

I finally added some wainscoting to my dining room feature wall. I’ve imagined adding moulding to this wall ever since I moved in and never did. Surprisingly, this project was very inexpensive and only took a few hours.

Even though I only use my dining room when I have guests over, and my seller flipped the home with an open concept in mind, I wanted to add the moulding so that the space is more defined. Also, adding wainscoting always makes the room feel a little more traditional and luxurious. Since my home decor style is technically transitional, the wainscoting still blends in nicely.


Project Time: 1 Day | Cost: Under $200.00 approx.

What You’ll Need:

Step One: Clean Surface

First, using TSP Cleaner diluted with warm water, clean surface of area with cloth.

Step Two: Measure

Using your pencil and a tape measurer or level, measure 32 inches from the floor (for your average 8 ft. tall wall). Experts generally place chair rails at the bottom 1/3 of the wall. Thus, if your wall is taller than 8 ft. tall, then multiply that number (in inches) by 0.33. For example, if your wall is 10 ft. tall, multiply 120 by 0.33, which would place your chair rail at 39.5 inches. Mark where you intend to install the chair rail with your pencil.


Next, using your measuring tape, measure the width of your wall. Then, cut your chair rail to size with the hand saw.


Step Three: Apply to Wall

I then applied Gorilla Glue to the back of the chair rail. Next, place chair rail in the appropriate place marked by the pencil. Use your level to ensure that the chair rail is leveled evenly against the wall. Then, using finishing nails, nail the chair rail to the wall, starting in the center.


Step Four: Paint Chair Rail and Wall

First, using the paint roller and cover, I painted the chair moulding area (wall below chair rail) with white paint. I painted two coats on the wall. Then, using the paint brush, I painted the chair rail. I started the project in the morning; thus, I was able to apply the second coat later in the afternoon. Granted, professionals tell you to wait at least one day in between coats. But this s such a small area, I didn’t see the need to wait that long.


Step Five: Measure Placement of Picture Frames

Once the area is dry, using your pen and measuring tape, determine placement of picture frame moulding. I placed my picture frames one inch from the bottom of the chair rail. Since my wall is 120 inches wide, I subtracted the combined width of the three picture frames (120 - 50 = 70 inches). Then I divided that number by the number of total spaces in between the picture frames. For example, from left to right, I have:

wall <—space —> picture frame —> space —> picture frame —> space —> picture frame —>space —> wall

Thus, 70 inches divided by 4 (spaces) = 17.5. I then measured 17.5 inches for each space. I used my pencil to mark placement and make sure the placement of picture frames looked even before install. To see if they lined up evenly, I affixed them to the wall with Blue Painter’s Tape before nailing.


Step Six: Apply Picture Frames to Wall

Similar to the chair rail, apply Gorilla Glue to back of picture frame moulding and place in marked location on wall. Make sure that the picture frame is leveled. Then, hammer finishing nails to fix to wall. Repeat step for all picture frames.

**Note: If you need to cut your picture frame moulding, the Ekena Millwork picture frames are very easy to saw through with the hand saw. Simply use your measuring tape and pencil to mark where the picture frame should be cut.


Step Seven: Paint Picture Frames

After the picture frames are installed, paint over them with the same white paint previously used, this time painting over moulding with a paint brush.

Allow time to dry and use paint brush and paint for touch ups.


The most difficult thing about this project was the math for measuring, quite honestly. You can knock this project out quickly, depending on how many walls you’re applying wainscoting. I’m so happy with how this came out. What do you think? Does the wainscoting give the space some depth? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Gullah Geechee Charleston Seafood Gumbo


Gullah Geechee Charleston Seafood Gumbo

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 1.5 Hour | Serves: 6 - 8 People

What You’ll Need

  • 2 pieces of fatback bacon or 3 slices thick cut bacon

  • 1 smoked ham hock

  • 2 quart shot water

  • 2 cans of stewed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh parsley

  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1 Andouille sausage

  • 1 1/2 dozen clams

  • 1/2 pound of lump crab meat

  • 1 pound of medium to large shrimp, peeled and devained, tails left on

  • 3 cups of okra, sliced

  • 1/2 cup of red bell pepper, diced

  • 1/2 cup of green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce

  • 2 cups of white rice


Step One: Prep the Pot

Using a large cast-iron Dutch oven, place on stovetop on medium heat. First, fry the bacon. Once cooked, remove bacon, leaving the fat in the Dutch oven. Next, add the smoked ham hock and hot water. Boil for 30 minutes.


Step Two: Dump it In

Next, stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, garlic, onion, clams, bacon, bell peppers, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow gumbo to thicken.


Step Three: Season it Up

Remove ham hocks. Add crabmeat, shrimp, andouille sausage, okra, sugar, salt, pepper. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Make sure that the soup does not become too thick. If so, add additional hot water.

Serve hot over white rice.


This gumbo is the perfect combination of spices and seafood to enjoy, during these late summer or early fall nights, along the coast.

This was my FIRST gumbo, and I’m quite proud of myself. It’s flavorful, not too spicy, and of course - it’s seafood. Try this recipe and let me know your thoughts below!


R and R Travel Guide to Charleston: Southern Charm in the Low Country


Guide to Charleston

Southern Charm in the Low Country

I recently had to do some traveling for work, and was sent off to the lovely Charleston, South Carolina. My cousin got married in Charleston when I was in college. I hadn’t been back since; so, I’m so glad that I got this opportunity. I was there for three weeks (God, I missed Pepper), so, I tried to make the very best of it. Since my employer provided meals, I only really dined out on the weekends. I have no idea how I was able to complete everything on this list but I did. Charleston is not only gorgeous, but it is a food haven. If you’re watching your weight or dieting, this is not the place for you. As a daughter of a Georgia born and Florida raised man, I’m pretty accustomed to coastal seafood and soul food recipes. What makes Charleston so great and different from all of the rest, is truly its charm. It may sound cliché, but you’re immersed in it.

What fascinates me about the city is their dedication to preserving as much architecture and aesthetic of the pre-Civil War era as possible. When I walked the streets of downtown, I was in awe of the different architectural styles of the homes, dependent upon the year it was built. Walking down King Street, south of Broad Street, you’re surrounded by single family “carriage houses,” where the double porches were designed to face the side of the house to allow more airflow from the winds blowing from the harbor. Even when I would enter some restaurants, the interior designer would make it a point to incorporate traditional style with coastal elements, paying homage to Charleston’s harbor and the history of shipping merchants.

Here is a full list of where I stayed, ate and found things to do during my three week work trip.

Where to Stay


French Quarter

I loved staying at the Elliott House Inn. Built in 1861 as a private residence, this charming bed and breakfast has 26 hotel rooms, fully renovated. The gorgeous coral B&B is located at 78 Queen Street, next door to the treasured 82 Queen Street, which offers room service. The inn sits at the intersection of Queen Street and King Street, near dozens of antique shops. Full disclosure: the antique stores in Charleston are significantly expensive.

Where to Eat


Downtown Charleston

The Palmetto Cafe was by far the best meal I had in all of Charleston. Located in the Belmond Hotel at Charleston Place, the cafe offers a delicious brunch on the weekends. The brunch buffet is $31 each, with traditional menu items. I opted for the Seafood Club, which consisted of lobster, shrimp, applewood bacon, smoked salmon and tomato. The bread was perfectly toasted and buttered, probably with one of their house made butters. I paired this amazing sandwich with a mimosa and found my happy place. The lover of home design was also obsessed with architectural design, with plantation shutters all around and a gorgeous mirror wall. The menu is pricey but the food and experience were worth every penny. If you’re going to have lunch anywhere, have it here.


Historic French Quarter

Poogan’s Porch is a true Charleston style restaurant, offering everyone’s favorite brunch option, shrimp ‘n grits. The restaurant is located in a Queen Anne style single family home, initially built in 1891. The home was converted to a restaurant in 1976. According to their website, the restaurant was named after the neighborhood dog, Poogan, who previously belonged to the last residential owners, who chose to leave him behind. Although he roamed up and down Queen Street, this porch was his favorite place to lay his head. The owner of the new restaurant named the establishment after him. I love their story! In terms of the shrimp n grits, I gave it a B+, as I tasted a few other Charleston style shrimp ‘n grits, and Poogan’s seemed a little runny that morning, and wasn’t as flavorful as expected.


Historic French Quarter

82 Queen, located right next door to The Elliott House Inn, is your go-to Lowcountry bistro. I had initially planned on dining at another restaurant, but the weather had other plans, with a torrential hurricane like downpour. So, I opted to stay close and dine next door. So glad that I did! I ordered the Crispy Roasted Duck over toasted pecan rice pilaf in a raspberry orange glaze. It paired very well with their Muddled Creek cocktail item, which consisted of bourbon, orange slices, orange liquer and a splash of ginger ale.



Prohibition is one of those places, that if you ever come back to a city, you’d make it a point to visit there each time. Quite honestly, I need a Prohibition in Baltimore, D.C. or Orlando, because it was the ultimate food, drink and cool jazz combination. I went to the restaurant on a late afternoon, enjoying tapas until the jazz band came out later that evening. Reasonably priced, you can enjoy several shareables with friends, with live jazz in the background.


Folly Beach

Gillie’s Seafood and Soul Food is your mom and pop shop, that no one tells you about unless you’re a local and true foodie. My brother found this place and couldn’t stop bragging about his locating skills. LOL. It was delicious! I got the catfish and shrimp over grits, with their special sauce that has a little kick to it — but not too spicey. If you go on a Sunday, just know it does get a little crowded with the after church crowd. The menu prices are very reasonable and the food is truly flavorful.


The Battery

Pearlz Oyster Bar is near the Battery district. Known for their raw oysters and cocktails, this place is typically crowded during their daily 4-7pm happy hour. The Charleston location is very small, considering it is located on the first floor of a former Charleston carriage house. Thus, seating is tight and you will likely have a wait. I tried the fried oyster slider, which was amazing.


Park Circle

Park Circle Creamery is an adorable ice cream parlor in a small suburb of Charleston. Park Circle has a little downtown area with eateries, a wine bar and a yoga studio. After you’re done having a yummy flatbread pizza at EVO Pizzeria, walk across the street to the creamery and order one of their homemade items. I’m slightly obsessed with their banana pudding, peach pie (cobbler) and Mexican vanilla flavors.


What To Do



Historic French Quarter

The Historic Charleston City Market first opened in 1804. The marketplace offers numerous vendors with a variety of crafts and goods. Most tourists check out the market in search of souvenirs, usually after sweetgrass baskets, where a basket the size of your palm will set you back $100.00. Since I had visited the Gibbs Museum and fell in love with Jonathan Greene’s Corene, I opted to purchase a framed giclee print of this painting, which was also signed by the local Charleston artist. #SCORE.


King Street Antiquing

Historic French Quarter

If you’re like me and love antiques, and your options of gorgeous chinoiserie ginger jars, then walking up King Street is the place you’ll want to be. There were several antique shops on King. Full disclosure: antique stores in Charleston are immensely overpriced comparatively to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Shop at your own risk.


Historic French Quarter

Book lovers should be sure to stop by Buxton Books, an independently owned bookstore on King Street. This adorable spot features tons of local authors and books on the low country.


Architectural Walking Tour


South of Broad Homes

South of Broad

When you’re done shopping on King Street, continue on King, walking south of Broad Street, towards the Charleston harbor. While walking on King, south of Broad, you’ll find your variety of Charleston homes in all architectural designs beginning from Georgian homes built in the 1700s, to single family “carriage houses,” with piazzas or porches on the side of the homes. Enjoy the many pastel homes covered in ivy, with amazing front door envy. Best part: this costs nothing except the camera in your hand! For more information on the many historical architectural styles in Charleston, click here.


Rainbow Row

The Battery

When I got to Rainbow Row, it seemed like every one had a professional photographer in hand and was having a photoshoot in front of the pastel homes. It’s a very popular location to check out homes. Street parking is available.


Museums and Other Must See’s


Anson Borough Homes

During my stay, the city hosted their annual First Day Festival, where they encourage families to come together to receive school supplies, find school support resources, and enjoy live entertainment. On the day of the festival, held every year in August, admission to the South Carolina Aquarium is free. I’m not one for crowded places with hundreds of children (my inner introverted self was screaming), but it was free so I definitely was not going to pass up the offer. The aquarium is nice place, if you’re traveling with small children, as they have dozens of animals and exhibits. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the aquarium is not that large and will cost adults $30 each.


Historic French Quarter

You cannot leave Charleston without visiting one of their many art museums. Charleston is an artsy city with almost as many art galleries as they have churches. With that being said, check out Gibbs Museum of Art, a short distance from the Elliott House Inn. It’s only $12 to get in; and if you’re frugal and remember to buy your ticket online before you get there (unlike myself), you can get up to $2 off your ticket purchase price. I recently was able to catch their exhibit, Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem. Gibbs Museum received various artworks from African American artists, on loan from the Studio Museum in Harlem, with art as far back as 1930 to present.

Charleston has several house museums, where descendants of former slave owners have maintained and retained their family properties. The Edmonston - Alston home, which overlooks the Charleston Harbor, was originally built in 1825 for shipping merchant Charles Edmondston and his large family. The home has both features of the “carriage house,” with three piazzas appropriately located on the side of the home to allow airflow; but, was built to reflect English regency style architectural design with influences from Greece and Rome. Edmondston eventually filed bankruptcy and sold the property to Charles Alston. The property was maintained by their two house slaves, George and Warley. When the Alston family returned to their home after the Civil War, the house was occupied by members of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Charles Alston had to request (and receive) a pardon from President Andrew Johnson to obtain the return of his property. Since then, the home is one of many family properties of former slaveowners in Charleston, where the homes are passed down via family wills, to the oldest family heir (the homes are not left to widows or widowers as the Alston-Middleton-Smith families only pass down the properties to descendants to keep the properties in the family names).

There were two amazing things about this property: the slaveowners kept a log of slaves and have actual diaries of the slaves’ names, years they were born and years they were baptized. However, the books are badly worn due to their age. Secondly, I couldn’t believe the craftsmanship by slaves that built the property’s library, fireplace mantles and door frames. Since Edmonston was a shipping merchant, it is believed that he had the slaves carve roping like features into the wood to replicate boat rope.


Northwest Charleston

Magnolia Plantation was established in 1676 by Thomas and Ann Drayton, two English colonizers who resettled in the lowcountry swampland along the Ashley River. The Draytons cultivated the land for rice and purchased slaves from Charleston’s “Old Slave Mart,” the oldest slave port in America, to grow the plantation. The Drayton family continued to pass the plantation down to male descendants over the years, including Thomas’ great great grandson, John Drayton, who owned and maintained the property during the Civil War. The Draytons had 41 slaves at one time, cultivating the rice fields. According to the tour guides on the property, only 45% of Black males were expected to reach the age of 20 years old, due to the strenuous and life threatening conditions working as a slave on a rice field. After the South lost the Civil War, Drayton offered the now freed slaves paid work to assist him in the planting and maintenance of his garden. Many slaves stayed and agreed to work, and Magnolia Gardens opened for public viewing in 1870. The property, now reduced to approximately 500 acres due to previous sales, offers $20 general admissions, and additional $8 tours for their gardens, antebellum home, slave quarters, rice fields, swamp garden and nature tram.

I only participated in viewing the main gardens (general admission), the mansion and slave quarters, costing approximately $36. I arrived early (8:30 am), did the house tour and slave quarters tour immediately (finished by 11:30 a.m.), and then toured all of the gardens until 2:00 p.m. I highly recommend wearing sneakers, hat, sunglasses, and BUG SPRAY. I didn’t realize that the actual property was in the swamp. I swatted mosquito, that had clung to me so well, that when I finally realized I was being bitten and killed him, I was covered in blood all over my hand. (GROSS!) If you remember anything, remember bug spray.


Saint Phillip’s Cemetery

Historic French Quarter

The historic cemetery sits across the street from Saint Phillip’s Episcopal Church. The cemetery has graves dating back pre-Civil War, including the seventh president, John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina native.


Parks and Beaches


Joe Riley Waterfront Park

Historic French Quarter

This gorgeous park has views of the Charleston harbor and a nearby dog park area for your fur babies.


White Point Garden

South of Broad - Charleston Harbor

White Point Garden is South of Broad along the harbor. There is plenty of street parking at this park and is well shaded during the hot and humid summer.


Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island was my favorite beach because it was the least crowded. I parked near the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, where there was free street parking. Sullivan’s Island is surrounded by beach houses and feels very private. There were dogs allowed on the beach; however, pay close attention to beach rules which address months and times dogs are permitted.


Isle de Palms

Isle de Palms is a gorgeous beach and quite popular, as it was more crowded than Sullivan’s Island. There are beach resorts available for lodging, as well as local restaurants.


Folly Beach

Folly Beach was the most crowded out of all three beaches that I visited. Folly Beach also features a large fisherman’s pier, and has signs on the types of fish often caught along Charleston’s beaches. I hung out on the pier one evening and was able to catch glimpses of a dolphin, but forgot to bring my zoom lens for some awesome shots (*sigh*).


I hope you enjoyed this ultimate travel guide to Charleston. I found myself dreaming of living there, but then came hurricane Dorian, which is hitting Florida as of the date of this post. I left Charleston with Dorian’s not-so-friendly reminder that the area is called low country for a reason. Hoping that the hurricane doesn’t put the entire city under water, as the place truly is beautiful.

On that note, prayers to all those affected by this massive storm. May you all be safe!


Happy 3rd Birthday, Pepper! Chicken Meatloaf Cake Pawty


Happy 3rd Birthday, Pepper Mint!

Chicken Meatloaf Cake Pawty

It’s Pepper Mint’s 3rd birthday. Since we were in Florida, I wanted to make Pepper and her cousins, Ginger and Bleau, a special treat they could share. All three girls, especially Ms. Pepper, LOVE chicken. So, I concocted this recipe, along with some of her favorite veggies (e.g., sweet potato) and decided on a meatloaf. I discovered that bananas are good for your dog because of the benefits of Potassium — however, like anything, it’s a rare special and infrequent treat since bananas are high in sugar. Another reason why I opted on a meatloaf: my dog hates dog biscuits and other dog sweet treats. So, an actual peanut butter dog cake would have been a waste for her.

If you decide to make this for your pup, let me know if your fur baby loves it. Pepper and her cousins sure did!

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 45 Minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Pack of Ground Chicken

  • 1 Sweet Potato (Cooked)

  • 1 Banana

  • 1/4 - 1/3 Cup of Carrots (Cooked)

  • 2 Eggs

  • 1/4 Cup of Panko Bread Crumbs

  • 1 Box of Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 Cup of Shredded Cheese

  • 4” Round Cake Baking Pans

  • Non-stick spray for greasing

First, mash banana, sweet potato and carrots in a large mixing bowl.


Next, add ground chicken, eggs, bread crumbs and cheese. Mix thoroughly. Then, spray baking pans with non-stick spray. Place mixture in baking pans just like you would a cake mix.


Place meatloaf in baking pans, in the refrigerator for one hour, minimum.


Place in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. While meatloaf is cooking in oven, cook mashed potatoes per boxed instructions.

Once cooked, remove from oven and allow meatloaf to cool.


Lastly, remove meatloaf from cake pans. Spread mashed potatoes over meatloaf like frosting. Garnish with shredded cheese and you’re done!