I am thankful for Charleston – Some things and places that warm the heart – What are you thankful for?

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By Mark A. Leon

We all have our own personal happy places.  Those places that, no matter what, put you in a good mood and lift us up.  These are the little things that help you escape the hustle and bustle of life and take you to your own personal wonderland.  On this the day, the Eve of Christmas, we wanted to share some of our happy places and things as we ring in the bells celebrating the birth of Christ.

  • Beignets and fresh crab and fried green tomato benedict at The Sunflower Cafe – Located at 2366 Ashley River Road in West Ashley, this place stands alone among the Charleston breakfast and brunch giants.  In a quaint diner setting filled with sunflowers for all the eye can see and locals yapping about their daily problems lies one of the most amazing eggs benedict dishes and beignets in town.  Don’t let the prices shock you.  They really are that inexpensive and that good.
  • Sunrise on Folly Beach – So many of you are thinking, sounds great, but I am not getting up at 5:00 AM to watch the sunrise.  I will wait until noon and go there to get a tan.  Getting a tan, feeling the heat hit your back, people watching, bocci and football and drinking cold beverages is nice and it is part of our past-time, but a sunrise is a new show every day.  With a unique formulation of clouds and a ball of orange rising like a 3D movie and a slight breeze, you will never feel more alive.  We were able to share a remarkable sunrise where it was raining on one part of the beach and sunny on the other so we were showered by warm water as the sun appeared to rise from the ocean.
  • Cocktails at the Spectator Hotel – The mixologist is a scientist at this new boutique hotel on State Street.  His careful design and development of his cocktails along with the testing expertise of staff and customers make each one of his seasonal creations an experience to remember.  Sullivan & Company was the first cocktail I was able to try.  I thought it may have been named after the beach, but it is named was derived from an apple farm in Maine, one his family has owned for three generations.  This drink is a blend of Virgil Kaine Bourbon, house-made spiced apple cider, maple syrup and lemon juice.  The Flapper’s Delight named after the era of the Roaring 20’s and the design of the interior of the bar and boutique hotel is a memorable fall delight made up of Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, ruby port, St.Germain Liqueur,  concord grape, lemon Juice and Prosecco.  So refreshing.  Make each sip count with these drink selections.
  • People watching at White Point Gardens – Each morning locals of the Charleston proper can be seen walking their dogs and in some cases, the dogs walk themselves.  These are true locals who value the solitude of the Battery area.  The sounds of endangered birds can be heard from up above and the sun rising with the Cooper River Bridge in the background highlights the experience.  During the weekends, you may catch a wedding or a family picnic and if you venture across the street, dolphins playing may catch your eye in the harbor.  Don’t go for picture or reading the statues.  Just go and let all the life come to you.
  • Happy Hour on the back porch at the Charleston Pour House – If you love music and live in Charleston you know about the Charleston Pour House and the great lineup of entertainment they have each and every night.  Not everyone knows that for Happy Hour there is a warm up act or two that plays on the outdoor stage.  Generally, most of the year, we would rather be outside.  Even in the heat of the summer, trees overhang from the patio to provide shade.  Some of the best up and coming local and traveling artists showcase their sounds to a happy group of PBR drinkers.  Here is the catch, its free.  Every day, free live original music.  You can bring the dogs, the kids and dance away your worries of the day.
  • Yappy Hour at James Island County Park – Is there a place we can bring our dogs to run free and frolic with other canines, listen to live music and have a few beers?  Yes there is.  James Island County Park, which offers a spacious fenced in dog park with two ponds to play, has periodic Yappy Hours where dozens and dozens of dogs in all shapes and sizes run, lick, swim, fetch and just enjoy this mini spring break.  While they play, the two legged owners get live music and a few cold beverages.  If that isn’t a happy place.
  • Relaxing at the MUSC Urban Farrn – Before you dismiss this one as boring, hear us out.  The MUSC Urban Farm is located in a courtyard on Bee Street between Ashley River Road and Courtney farm1Street.  In this courtyard you will find stretching equipment, benches and open grassy fields to lay out or have a picnic.  The farm or garden as many see it offers smells so beautiful they have to be experienced first hand.  From orange trees to sunflowers to basil to rosemary, the farm provides classes and workshops and open space to grow and nurture fruits, vegetables and seasonings.  One of our favorite things is to run our hands through the rosemary and have the smell linger on our bodies.
  • Boba Tea at Tapio on Spring Street and a Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Turnover at WildFlour Bakery – We love that Spring Street is seeing a level of excitement not witnessed in years and with that new and exciting businesses are bringing their niche to the city of Charleston.  Two of our special places are neighbors, Tapio and WildFlour.  Two of the most treasured secrets (Many are aware though).  The Thai Coconut Coffee Milk Tea with tapioca bubbles is just splendid and coupled with a turnover from WildFlour makes a complete power attack of the palate.  In a very good way.  While you are there, walk around Spring Street and see some of the great places that have popped up.

I am thankful for the kind and gentle people that truly define the meaning of life in the Lowcountry

There you have it, some of the things and places that bring us happiness.  What are your happy places and things in Charleston?  We would love to know.

GALLERY: Dogs of Charleston: Our Favorite Companions

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Life in the Lowcountry is just a little bit better with our four-legged furry companions.? Whether it is at the beach, having a beer, sitting by the pool, walking the historic streets or just laying in bed together, dogs are as important as the history of this city itself.

They calm us, put us in a good place and bring joy every day.

They are a gift of unconditional love and it is no wonder we celebrate them so much here.

As an ode to our loving companions and partners in crime, here is a gallery celebration of the dogs of Charleston

Dogs of Charleston

























Header Photo:? www.instagram.com/charlestonontherun

Charleston Business Spotlight: Local James Island couple using holistic medicine to improve the quality of life of man’s best friend

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Matt and Stacey own CannaBonez, a local Lowcountry business focused on using holistic medicine to improve the quality of life for dogs.

Here is a little backstory on how this business came to be from co-owner Stacey

Roscoe came into my life when he was around 8 weeks young. My manager came into work and told me a story about a litter of puppies that were found on the side of Highway 17 near Awendaw. I decided to go ‘look’ at these sweet babes, which was eight years ago in the spring of 2010. Roscoe instantly had my heart and the two of us became as thick as thieves.

Fast-forward three years when Matt came into our lives. We met in 2013 while working together at Rita’s on Folly Beach. Our friendship blossomed into something a little more in the spring of 2016, and we were immediately inseparable. Roscoe is my very best friend, and he and Matt are two peas in a pod. We decided to take the leap and move in together, which Roscoe was very happy about. Our apartment ended up being on the third-floor, and after a few months, my aging pup didn’t like that hike. We both had to carry him up on several occasions. It was breaking our hearts, and we knew something had to be done…and quick.

Matt had mentioned his idea for CannaBonez, and I said “let’s do it!”? We began giving Roscoe CBD and noticed changes in his overall health and wellness. He was running around like a young pup again! Once we started seeing such great results, we knew we had to help every pooch we could. We began formulating our own recipe, and believe me, this took some time.

Both of us have a passion for helping and a love for dogs. Everything has fallen into place to where we are able to combine these two together, and we are forever grateful.

Inspiration behind CannaBonez

Matt initially had the idea for CannaBonez several years ago while living with his roommates. Lola, his roommates dog, had horrible hip dysplasia. It wasn’t until Roscoe came along that CannaBonez came to fruition. Once we saw how well CBD worked on him we knew it had to be shared with everyone.

Official CannaBonez Website

Shop CannaBonez


Tale of Two Cities: Mount Pleasant vs. James Island, SC

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Between historic Charleston lies two very distinct communities, each defined by its own unique culture, attitude and neighborhood aesthetics.? How can two towns just miles apart have such a distinct difference in personality?? Let us dissect the differences and similarities and thus allow you to draw your own conclusions.

This piece was inspired by two recent social outings, one on Thursday evening in Mount Pleasant at Basil and Sol and the second on John’s Island at JB’s Smokeshack.? While enjoying a quiet lunch and writing a letter at JB’s, I met Chuck, a lifelong resident of this area who grew up hunting on the farms that are now defined by the intersection of Highway 17 and 526.? It was this conversation and my food and beverage interaction in Mount Pleasant that drove the need to write this article.

Let us dig right in and look at the true differences between Mount Pleasant and James Island

  • Dining Prices – There is a definable difference between dining in Mount Pleasant and dining on James Island.? At Sol, two tacos and a 16-ounce craft beer will run you $18.00, with $2.21 in tax and $4.00+ in tip = $24.21.? On Wednesday at Lowdown Kitchen, a 10-inch specialty pizza and glass of house red wine will run you $9.00, with $1.15 in tax and $3.00 in tip = $13.15.? At Paisano’s on Tuesday, you can get a calzone with two meats and two veggies for $6.00 plus tax.? At White Duck Taco, a taco will run between $3.50 and $4.50 and for Happy Hour, a Tecate is $1.00. ?A bowl of she-crab soup at Roadside Seafood is $.6.00.? We aren’t going to go through all menus at all dining establishments, but on average, there is a dining disparity.
  • Original Music – On any given night in Mount Pleasant from Shem Creek to Arts to Wild Wings, live music is abundant and so is the chance of hearing Wagon Wheel.? The music is heavily dominant on cover songs.? That is what the customers want to hear.? There is no doubting the musical eye of the Charleston Pour House on James Island and their ability to find the most amazing original music acts in the Southeast and around the country so we give this category to James Island.
  • Brand Awareness – James Island is defined by a unique culture of small and family owned business.? As you drive through you, will see a Sonic, Walmart, AutoZone and Waffle House.? Not much else in terms of chain retail and dining.? Mount Pleasant is a whole other story.? TJ Maxx, Lane Bryant, Kohl’s, Michael’s, Nordstrom’s Rack, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bed Bath and Beyond, Gap, Old Navy and the list goes on.? Very brand focused.
  • Coffee Houses – This one is very close.? Mount Pleasant has Collective Coffee and Metto, two incredible coffee shops.? James Island has Muddy Waters
    Old Pitt Street Bridge
    Old Pitt Street Bridge

    and How Art Thou.? We are going to give this one a tie.

  • Beaches – Another close one.? Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island vs. Folly Beach.? This debate can go on and on.? In terms of accessibility, great dining, fun playful environment, we will also give this a tie.
  • Trivia – Once again we are at a stalemate.? Locals and Wild Wings are among the local establishments with live trivia in Mount Pleasant.? The Break and O’Brion’s are popular sites on James Island.? Tie.
  • Dog Friendly The Barrel, James Island County Park, Sip, How Art Thou, James Island Sunday Brunch, The Charleston Pour House, Bohemian Bull; all speak volumes on how dog friendly James Island is.? Dogs are considered residents in these parts.? We know The Shelter does a lot with Pet Helpers and we admire that.? Overall, Mount Pleasant is a little behind on the support of pups and dining.
  • Attitude – This one may come under some scrutiny, but we stand behind it.? James Island is the Jimmy Buffett of the Charleston area communities.? No matter where you go, we greet you with a smile.? If you are drinking or dining alone, don’t expect to be too long.? There is a genuine friendliness that is infectious on the Island.? Mount Pleasant is a bit more stand-offish and not as inviting of strangers.
  • Natural Scenery – Mount Pleasant has Old Pitt Street Bridge, Old Mount Pleasant and Shem Creek.? All beautiful open areas of natural wonder.? James Island has Riverland Drive, James Island County Park, Dock Street Park, Mcleod Plantation, Harborview Road, Intercoastal Waterway, Sunrise Park, and Scenic Fort Johnson Road.? James Island is still untapped with its ample marsh, wooded areas and parks area and thus gets the victory lap in this category.
  • Traffic – I think we can comfortably call Folly Road and Highway 17 almost a dead heat.
  • Organic Food – Mount Pleasant wins by one – Whole Foods vs. Earthfare in a tug of war, but with Mount Pleasant having Trader Joe’s on its side, it has more muscle.? With both having respective farmer’s markets, we have to give this one to Mount Pleasant.
  • Hippie Lifestyle – We have to give the edge to James Island.? Mount Pleasant is a stone throw from Awendaw Green Barn Jam, but with the Brickhouse Drum Circle, Folly Beach (recently voted the Most Hippie City in South Carolina) and the Charleston Pour House, we have to give the victory to James Island.

There we have it, the differences and similarities between James Island and Mount Pleasant.? If we missed any categories, please comment below.

Attention Charleston Dog Owners: Are Dogs the Owners of Humans?

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

It dawned on my recently that perhaps us humans have a very inverted perspective on the relationship between man and canine. I suspended reality for a moment and put myself in the shoes or space flip flops of an alien and observed from a distance the daily rituals of the man/woman and dog. The dog walks, we follow. The dog poops, we pick it up. The dog gets hungry, we feed it. The dog is tired, they take the bed, couch or where ever they want. Hmmm, so who owns who?

Let’s break this down and see if we can come up with a logical answer:

1. During a given day, a dog with run, eat, drink, sleep, lounge, bark, cuddle, stick its head out the window and play with other dogs. A human will get up way too early, eat a rushed meal, worked way too hard for little pay, run errands, pay bills, maybe sneak in a beer or two and pass out weak and weary. Judges: 1 – 0 Dogs

2. When a dog has to go, they don’t have to wait on any lines, seek out a rest room or even wash their hands afterward. Even if they try to cover it up with their hind legs, they know their human will be there to pick up the waste. There is another one for the dog.

puppy33. Humans have to court a girl with a courageous opening line, a well planned out and many times expensive dinner and then fingers crossed they get a goodnight kiss. A male dog walks up to female and does the deed. 3 – 0 Dogs.

4. Here is one victory for us humans…We live a lot longer.

5. Everyone wants to pet a dog, rub its belly and give great big warm hugs. Humans, not so much.

6. Dogs always get doggie treats. Humans only get to eat treats until their metabolism starts to slow down and then only on special occasions.

7. The leash. I think this is a plot by the canine community to give us humans the impression that we still have some control. I don’t know that they even need it.

8. Dogs can be naked all the time. Except Halloween when we feel the urge to dress them up in the most embarrassing thing ever. In most places society still shuns on that for humans.

9. Dogs can fall asleep anywhere. I mean anywhere.

10. Dogs are lovers not fighters. Even when they play fight, love always wins at the end. We could learn a lesson from that.

11. Dogs will always be by your side. Not matter what you do, they forgive and remain loyal. Again, something we could learn from.

12. Humans have to bathe every day. At least society puts pressure on us to. Dogs bathe about every week or two.

13. Dogs are so cool, they usually only need one name.

I think it is clear, dogs may be more superior than humans.

One thing is certain, the partnership between humans and canines is very special and one that should never be taken advantage of.

To man’s best friend, we salute you, love you and will always be by your side.

Dog Parks in Charleston – Lowcountrydog.com