Monday, December 30, 2013

New Listing in Summerville! by Shelley Hopkins


Peaceful backyard, with the birds for your neighbors!

Take a look at this newly listed home in Summerville.  This property is a great deal for someone willing to do a little work to fix it up.  The location is great, close to schools and the Sangaree Library.  The home is on a short cul-de-sac, with only a few homes on the street.  Just down the road is the library, and the main Sangaree road, an excellent walking or jogging area.

The homeowner had several banana trees that produced fruit, and at least one tree is still on the property.  The bananas are smaller and tastier than what you can find in the stores.  The back yard is fenced, and behind the property are wetlands and woods, meaning that the new homeowner will have lots of privacy and peace.

This home was constructed with SIPS energy efficient panels, which translates into energy savings for you.  This is a great deal, and I am ready to show it to you right now!

Things to do in Charleston for Christmas by Shelley Hopkins

The Charleston area is a wonderful place to celebrate Christmas, and to host out of town family members.  We may not have ice cycles and snowmen, but we are not lacking in Christmas spirit.  One local tradition is the James Island County Park lights.  We piled our family into one car, and drove all around the park, enjoying a lighted Santa, snowflakes, elves tossing snowballs, pirate ships, flags, and literally hundreds of lighted trees.  The show starts at the lake with our famous Ravenel Bridge nicely reflected on the water.   Midway through the drive we parked to walk through the rest of the attractions.  Kids and parents roasted marshmallows over fire pits, children rode a merry go round, and we walked among the smells of the fires, kettle corn and funnel cakes.  The best part was the enchanted forest full of butterflies, frogs and lights sprinkled all through the trees.  Our entire family decided to make this a new tradition for the Christmas week.  We enjoyed the light show a couple of days after Christmas, avoiding the long lines and crowds.

One warm sunny day before the holiday we drove to the beach on Sullivan’s Island, wearing shorts and sandals.  As we crossed the bridge we left the sunny day behind, driving into a wall of ocean fog.  We parked and walked along the boardwalk, the fog moving among the sea grasses.  We could only hear the ocean, hidden by both fog and low tide.  The lighthouse barely penetrated the mist, and it was eerily beautiful.  The fog cleared as the sun slowly set, the colors made even more vivid as the fog burned off.  

We took our family members to see the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island.  We all drink tea and yet we had never seen actual tea plants.  We took a tour of the plantation, viewing the farm, the green house, and simply enjoying the beauty of the area.  In the shop we sampled different hot and cold tea drinks.  The plantation has 127 acres of Camellia Sinensis tea plants, grafted from original plants rescued from a Summerville farm that had been neglected.  We also stopped at the Angel Oak Tree, an absolutely beautiful and amazing tree at least 500 years old.  It is huge, rambling, and shades an area over 17,000 square feet.  To stand under this tree is to be amazed at the beauty and depth of nature. 

Charleston has so much to see with history, museums, architecture and home tours, but how wonderful it is to be able to enjoy the outdoors any time of the year.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Charleston Single House by Shelley Hopkins

One of the best things about living in Charleston is the beauty of the nature, and of the neighborhoods and homes.  I am on a quest to learn more about the architecture and history of the area, so I am starting with the Charleston Single Home.  This is a home style unique to the Charleston area.  Homes are narrow and long, a single room’s width wide.  Usually, but not always, the homes have beautiful side porches with a door on the porch.  This door allows the main entrance to the home to be more private, and is a way of signaling if the homeowner wants company, with an open door saying welcome.
  I love the idea of a porch door because this reinforces the idea that the porch, also called a piazza, is part of the home.  These porches open to side yards or gardens.  The next home usually has fewer or smaller windows on that side, giving the garden privacy for the homeowner. 
The long slender home style with the piazza is perfect for the hot summers, offering cross ventilation.  This style started in the early 18th century before electricity and air conditioning.  I researched the Charleston County Library web site to learn more about the history of this architectural style.  Many people thought this style was due to home owners facing the narrow part of the home on the street front to avoid paying taxes, with the idea that homes were taxed on the amount of street front they had.  This seems to be a tour guide legend with no basis in history. 
There are several main reasons this home style flourished, including privacy,  the cross ventilation and also perhaps fire control.  The first single house was recorded in the early 1700’s.  Walls surrounded the city and space was at a premium.  The single house provided a wise use of space with privacy and style.  In the mid 1700’s Charleston suffered a fire, and after this time period single houses flourished.  Row houses were closer together, and with the single house each home was separated by a side area courtyard. 
Perhaps the Charleston single is a mixture of the plantation homes of the south and the more cosmopolitan port homes many of the Charleston residences would see in their travels.  The best thing about Charleston is how these homes have such beautiful gardens and flowers.  Nearly every season of the year something is blooming or doing well, and Charleston homeowners know how to enjoy their gardens.  I visited the low country years before and my main memory was of the gardens.  Whether the home was a mansion or a humble shack, wisteria and flowers were everywhere.  With a climate like ours, why wouldn’t we enjoy every moment.

If you are interested in searching for this style home in Charleston please feel free to visit my website,  or to home search for an already made search

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Moving with Children by Shelley Hopkins

Lessons learned from moving

            My husband and I have moved many times during our 28 years of marriage.  First we moved from one apartment to another, then from town to town, and finally to new states.  We have purchased 4 homes over the years, but we are living at our 15th address, 16th if you count the camper we lived in for a couple of months.  We have lived in 4 states, NC, GA, WV and SC.  Most of this moving was done with children, as a typical busy family.
            A few things I have learned involve moving with children.  It is important to prepare them, but depending on the age it is best not to start too soon.  We read books on moving, and talked about the new location.  We tried to help them understand that nothing important changes.  The family will stay the same, just in a different building. 
            We let them pack a special box of their favorite toys and a bag or backpack with their most important possessions.  The box they labeled or watched me label so they would understand that this box belonged to them and would be waiting for them in the new home.  The bag they could keep with them, so that while they could see the house being packed up, they knew where the favorite toy or book was.
            When my daughter was little she had a fear that when our things went into boxes we would never see them again.  She thought we were going to start out in our new home with nothing.  Having her special bag at least insured that the stuffed animal she slept with would always be by her side. 
            We homeschooled our children, and I remember that before and after a move their schoolwork suffered.  Sometimes their behavior was less than great, and it seemed like they fought more and cried more during this time.   Moving is stressful and can be especially hard on children.
            Moving with teenagers can be very difficult.  Teens are struggling to find their place in the world, and now they are being asked to pick up and start over.  Parents need to be especially sensitive to the emotional toll moving can cause.  It is tempting to try to smooth over their worries by promising everything will be the same.  It will not be the same.  It may be better or worse, but it will not be the same.  New adventures await, but to reach them old adventures have to end.  It may be hard for older children and teens to make friends, and it will take time.  Expect some tears.  Be understanding, and know that it will get better.  Encourage them to become involved in activities, clubs, sports, or volunteer work.  Reaching out to help others is a great way to move away from our own problems.
            Try to build special memories in the new home.  Have a fancy meal together, find and enjoy new walks, discover cool little shops nearby.   Let the kids choose their own paint colors, even if the walls end up bright orange with periwinkle blue.

            For me a house begins to feel like a home after we have entertained guests, celebrated birthdays, and decorated for the holidays.  Shared memories make a house a home.