Seven Quick Takes No. 80 : The Charleston Travel Edition

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo

I.

So I’ve obviously talked a lot about Edel this week, but not so much about the city we were in, and what I did when I wasn’t bonding over crazy shoes and cocktails.

The Edel cocktail: Sweet tea vodka, lemonade, and mint.

The Edel cocktail: Sweet tea vodka, lemonade, and mint.

(Yes, I had my quasi-yearly cocktail at Edel. )

So let’s walk through this lovely city, shall we?

(Although walking when it’s over 100 degrees with the humidity….yeah. Not so much for this Midwestern girl.)

II.

We stayed at the gorgeous Francis Marion hotel at the intersection of King and Calhoun Streets.

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My room at the FM.

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View from my window. I’ll take that!

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This bed, people.

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My room had a vanity, a desk, an incredible bed, and a nice, deep tub for soaking (which I did just about every day, because you NEED to after being out in the heat. You feel so much more human after.). I called it a “princess room” and it’s exactly what it was. Blue is my favorite color and I’d love to  be able to paint my room at home this color. (I’ll have more on my room renovation plan later.)

The hotel did have some water problems during Edel, but it was rectified, and I always had water for my showers and baths. 🙂

The attached Starbucks and gift shop were also plusses, and the beautiful lobby was great for relaxing and talking with other Edel guests.

Also, the location right on King Street was great for shopping and catching the CARTA DASH bus (the free trolley that takes you around Charleston). There were three pick-up points within a block of the hotel, so win right there. And being across from Marion Square meant simple access to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning, where I got my sweetgrass basket.

III.

This is what you need to know about CARTA’s DASH trolleys: The “stops” on the map aren’t the real stops. You have to look for the signs that have the appropriate numbers. They stop a lot more than the map suggests they do. This isn’t a bad thing–it just means you have to be aware where the appropriate stops are for your bus. (Route 210, 211, or 213) Together, the three of them will take you to most of the city’s main areas. We took the trolley all over the city and since it’s free, it’s very economical. Your other options are walking, your own car, a pedi-cab, or a taxi.

A pedi-cab driver waiting outside the Francis Marion.

A pedi-cab driver waiting outside the Francis Marion.

While they usually ran pretty well, note that they don’t run much past 8 Sunday-Thursday, so plan accordingly. And also, the buses can stop at weird times/places for no apparent reason (we stopped at one point for no reason, and the bus driver just left us at the curb….it was tres strange.)

IV.

One can’t talk about Charleston without talking about food.

We went to a few restaurants, so let me break them down for you:

Hominy Grill: This was our stop on Friday for lunch. The shrimp and grits were amazing, as were the fried green tomatoes. For dessert, I had Carolina Jam Cake, and my parents had the Hummingbird Cake. The food more than made up for the fact that they don’t take lunch reservations, so you are probably going to have to wait outside. Fortunately, they have beverages so you don’t die of heat exhaustion, and there are benches. My advice? Get there EARLY, and make dinner reservations.

We're talking about Travels in Charleston, SC during Seven Quick Takes Today! @emily_m_deardo

But really, it’s all worth it for that food.

Poogan’s Porch: Anytime I walk into a restaurant and see “Hail to Pitt!” scrawled as part of an autograph, I get happy. Poogan’s, on Queen Street, has had a number of distinguished guests, including Bill Cowher, Jodie Foster, Jim Carey, Barbara Eden, Barbra Streisand, and Giada di Laurentiis. And let me tell you, the food and atmosphere tell you why immediately.

The biscuits are the best biscuits I have had in my entire life. I am not exaggerating. They are like clouds with delicious honey butter. I can’t even tell you have amazing they are.

Mom and I chose the buttermilk fried chicken for our brunch option, and this was also the most amazing fried chicken. It wasn’t greasy, it was crisp and crunchy, and it was so moist. It was basically amazing. Everything about this meal was magic. (Yes, I know, I used “amazing” a lot. I’m sorry. I can’t help it.)

Also–collards are spicy! I had no idea!

Talking Charleston travel on the blog today! @emily_m_deardo

Poogan’s buttermilk friend chicken, sage gravy, potatoes, and collards.

Queen Street Grocery was home to our first Charleston meal, and it also did not disappoint. I had cold-pressed coffee and a delicious crepe with ham, goat cheese, and dill. It’s very local and very friendly, and this was one heck of a crepe.

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Carolina Ale House was our last meal in Charleston (Sunday night). I wanted a burger by this point, and this was recommended by the hotel staff, so we went and enjoyed. They have a patio and since they’re three floors up, you’d have a lovely view of Marion Square and the surrounding King Street area. It’s a sports bar with a diverse menu and great burgers.

V.

Speaking of King Street–let’s talk about shopping, shall we? 🙂

We went up and down King Street a few times, and here are some of my favorite stores/places:

Blue Bicycle Books: used, new, and rare books, with a store cat (!) and lots of signed books by Southern authors, especially Pat Conroy. A small, but fun space, and a must for book lovers who want to indulge in some Southern Literature.

Croghan’s Jewel Box: Home of their Goldbug line (I bought their Goldbug Bee earrings, which I love!), this store stocks all sorts of beautiful jewelry and estate sale items.

Rewined Candles: You like wine? You like candles? Look no further. This local company takes used wine bottles, cuts them in half, and fills them with candles that smell like wine tastes. The sangria is so fragrant!

(A lot of the rest of my souvenir grabbing I did at Edel, and you can find my recommendations here for some great Catholic companies!)

VI.

If you’re looking for a place to go to Mass, The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is a beautiful choice, and they also have a great organ and organist.

The Charleston City Market was fun and was located near Poogan’s Porch. It’s one of the oldest city markets in the country, and parts of that are evident (no air conditioning except in one area), but it has some fun things.Are parts of it touristy? Well, yes. But some parts are also really neat. Definitely come and explore.

My parents also enjoyed visiting the parks by the waterfront, which they did while I was Edel-ing, and they took a carriage tour via Palmetto Carriage.

VII.
Yes, it’s true–the South is a very friendly place. I liked having doors held for me (even if no one called me ‘ma’am’ this trip, sadly!) All of our waitresses and the people in the hotel were super friendly and helpful, which made the trip that much more enjoyable. I enjoyed my time in Charleston and I hope I get to go back soon!

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Daybook No. 98

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Outside my window:: Sunny but also cloudy, if that makes sense. I guess the weatherman would call this “partly sunny”? Or “partly cloudy”? (I never did understand the distinction.)

In the CD player:: 1776 soundtrack.

Wearing:: My PJs. I know. So unexciting. But all my pretty clothes are packed away for vacation!

Reading:: Reclaiming Catholic Social TeachingThe Whole World Over; Mansfield Park; Lisette’s List. I also have a bunch of books packed for vacation, including Middlemarch, The Forsythe Saga, The Girl On A Train; A Memory of Violets; Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, and a few more.

Yes, I bring lots of books when I go on vacation. It’s often like this:

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Links you may have missed:: Jane Re-Read: Pride and Prejudice; Sketchbook Skool; The Declaration 

Crafting:: I”ve got some knitting packed for Edel, because there are going to be excellent knitters there, and I need someone to teach me to purl consistently! I’ve also got my scarf and washcloth still on the needles.

From the kitchen:: Not much, since we’re leaving soon! I’m looking forward to excellent Charleston food!

Keeping House:: Cleaning before I leave–making sure all the trash is out, and things are generally tidy, so when I come home it won’t be a disaster. And of course, packing.

Fitness: Today is a yoga day, and tomorrow is a gym day. I am packing gym clothes for vacation (the hotel has a gym), but I think the normal run of things might be enough! We’ll see, though. Better to be prepared, right?

Prayer:: Really trying to keep to my “horarium”, as I’m calling it. That means prayer in the morning (lauds) with some devotional reading; midday prayer (noon) if I don’t make it to Mass; Divine Mercy chaplet and Office of Readings at 3:00 (and rosary, if I have time); Vespers between 5 and 5:30 (with rosary after, if I didn’t get to it already), and compline between 7:45 and 8:45, depending on what’s going on. This is, actually, a copy of a few monastic schedules. It’s not every hour of the office, but it’s a majority of them (It’s four, and there’s seven hours of the office). As a Lay Dominican, lauds, vespers and rosary are required every day. But I really like the office of readings, and compline is special to Dominicans. And of course, Daily Mass when I can.

There will be an adoration chapel set up at Edel on Saturday, which makes me crazy happy.

This week:: Um, vacation? 🙂 Edel is Friday and Saturday. So excited for that. 10 Year Anniversary is on Saturday as well! Rejoice! 🙂

Some cuteness: Princess Charlotte and her family at her baptism yesterday. The baptism was held at St. Mary Magdalene church in Sandringham.

Daybook with Royal Baby Photos! @emily_m_deardo

Duchess Catherine and Princess Charlotte.

Royal Christening @emily_m_deardo

The Duke and Duchess, with Princess Charlotte in the pram, and Prince George checking on his sister. (“I want to make sure she’s in there…”)

Princess Charlotte at her christening @emily_m_deardo

Someone looks like her mommy.

Seven Quick Takes No. 75

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo

I.

People, this is a thing:

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So it was yesterday, but next week I’m going to have a post up on Books You Need To Read, so please check back for that! I’m really looking forward to sharing some of my favorite books with you (and yes, Jane tops the list. Let’s be real, people.)

II.

 This week on my other page I wrote about How I write  and A Tour of my Office.  Let me know what you think? (And follow the page there, too, please? This ends our commercial. :-p) Next week I’m writing about journaling and research. I’ve been journaling since I was 12 years old, so I have a few things to say about it!

III.

The fitness Regimen IS BACK! I worked out three days in a row this week, and I’m heading to the gym today. My “off” days are Thursday and Sunday. I’ve also brought back the weight training. AND I’m pondering kicking off a Whole 30 in May. Have I gone crazy? Maybe?

But no, I really need to focus on this stuff now. I fell off the fitness wagon in March, but now it’s time to get back on, entirely. I began adding back some activity toward the end of March/beginning of April, but I want to have good numbers when I go into clinic again in June for my ten year yearly.

IV.

(Ten years? For real? REALLY? I’m going to write more about this later, but holy cow: time flies when you’re having fun.)

V.

Planning for the Charleston Trip is in full swing–Mom and I have narrowed down a huge list of restaurants in the city to a manageable list, and we want to visit the plantation where parts of North and South and The Notebook were shot. MY ten year anniversary, coincidentally, will occur when we’re down there, and when I’m attending Edel! Whee!

VI.

It was chilly here this week–we had frost this morning and I actually had to turn the heat back on. So we’ve gone from like 80 to….34? Crazy weather is always with us. But hey, there’s no snow, unlike Pittsburgh, which had some yesterday during the Pirates game. Brrrr!

VII.

I started the Great Jane Re-Read Early this year–I just re-read Sense and Sensibility. I’ve got the Annotated Northanger Abbey here, so that’s next–going a bit out of order. 🙂

Seven Quick Takes No. 60

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I.

So we have to start with the big thing: I’m going to Edel!

I am so excited to meet Jen and Hallie and all the other lovely ladies, and I’m also excited to see the City of Charleston. I’ve never been to South Carolina, and my mom has always wanted to go to Charleston. So, we’re going!

II.

The best part about the gathering? Well, OK, the other best part?

My 10th transplant anniversary is that Saturday.

Really, people, how much better can it be to celebrate a DECADE of life post-transplant than with amazing ladies, great food, maybe a spa treat (there’s one in the hotel!)

This is the sort of thing I never imagined before transplant–getting to travel all over the country and have these amazing experiences.

III.

The plan right now is to get to Charleston on Thursday and stay until the following Wednesday, so we can see all we want to see and really enjoy the city, as opposed to “we have a weekend we must CRAM IT ALL IN NOW.” We shall take our time.

Dad is excited because they will be shrimp and grits and there’s a Starbucks in the hotel lobby. He’s pretty set for life, right there.

IV.

When I told my transplant doc that we were going to Charleston, he immediately said, “You must eat at Hominy Grill.” He’s not the only one who has said this, but he sure waxed poetic about it. If you have other suggestions for places to eat, pop them in the com box. 🙂

V.

I was basically a prisoner in the house Monday and Tuesday, because of cold and snow. NOTHING like Buffalo, but it was cold, for sure–unseasonably so. I cannot imagine living in Buffalo. How do you even begin to clear five plus feet of snow?!

VI.

I’m excited to see Mockingjay soon–either this weekend or next week. And also, of course, The Theory of Everything, which opens here next week! Yay good movies! I also need to see Big Hero 6.

VII.

What are your plans for Turkey Day? Ours involve getting Bob Evans’ “Farmhouse Feast” and eating it at home. We’re not huge Thanksgiving Let’s Go All Out People (we sort of were, back in the day). Now we just like it nice and quiet, with maybe a movie or two that day or the day after. We’re low-key peeps. And we do not do Black Friday shopping–unless it’s Black Friday at Barnes and Noble. Because, why not.