Oysters: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em!

oyster shell

Oysters…love ’em or leave ’em, there is no in between! These tasty, slimy, expensive delicacies don’t seem to have any middle ground. No one ever says, oysters are just OK. They are best eaten raw with plenty of champagne to wash them down. Sorry, pregnant ladies, but these are off the menu for you.

What are oysters?

Oysters are in the mollusks family. Other two shelled mollusks include clams, scallops and mussels. The shell of the oyster looks almost rocky. It is formed as the animal grows. Successive layers of shell form with each layer projecting a little beyond the last. This creates a series of concentric lines as shown in the picture above. A ligament and various muscles hold the edge of the shells firmly together like a hinge.

Oysters are most prevalent, and best eaten, in colder months. They breed during the summer and are harvested in months which contain an “R” (January, February, March, April, September, October, November and December).

Oysters feed by drawing a current of water between their two shells. Minute food particles pass through the water providing nourishment. Interestingly, oysters can live a long time out of water as long as they are kept cold since they can keep their shells tightly closed so no water escapes. Their biggest natural enemies are starfish and crabs…and of course oyster loving humans!

How to eat oysters?

The first issue for the person desiring to taste an oyster is the rather daunting task of opening the rough, rock hard, tightly sealed shell. But, take heart, there is a tool for that! Some brilliant person invented the oyster knife. But be careful to protect your hands from the rough shell. Watch this video on how to open an oyster shell:

For some people, getting past the gray, slimy, plump body and the strong desire to gag, makes oyster eating impossible. I must confess to being one of the those people! However, I am told that if I could get past my “issues”, I would discover a delicate, rich, salty flavor. Oysters are also high in calcium, iron and protein. But, I stand my ground…they are not for everyone no matter how healthy they are.

The best way to eat oysters, according to my friends, is to “slurp them down”. Most people use a tiny fork and move the oyster around in its liquid making sure it is not attached to the shell. Then, they put down the fork, pick up the shell and “slurp” from the wide end. While the majority of people shallow oysters whole, there are some brave soles who give it a light chew.

What so you do with the shell?

Don’t just throw the shells in the garbage! Because oyster shells have a very high calcium content, using them in your garden can improve the pH balance of the soil and result in more colorful plants.

Oysters being served

Where can you eat raw oysters in the Charleston area?

 

Pearlz Oyster Bar – West Ashley
9 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 573-2277

Pearlz Oyster Bar
9 Magnolia Rd
Charleston, SC 29407
(843) 573-2277

Pearlz Oyster Bar

Oyster House and O-Bar (Formerly A.W. Shucks)
5 S Market St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 723-1151

Oyster House

Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar
205 E Bay St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 853-8600

Amen Street

Victor Social Club
39-F John St.
Charleston, SC

 

Victor Social Club

Coast Bar & Grill
39 John St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-8838

Coast Bar & Grill

Prohibition
547 King St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 793-2964

Prohibition

The Darling Oyster Bar
513 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

The Darling Oyster Bar

The Ordinary
544 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

The Ordinary

Red’s Ice House
98 Church St
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 388-0003

Red’s Ice House


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Hurricane Matthew: Before, During and After

Before the Storm

Hurricane Matthew paid us a visit in early October. Jim and I were at the Palmetto Beach House doing our post season maintenance. It was an unexpected experience for us Ohioans! We are much more accustomed to dealing with winter snow and ice.

The week prior to our scheduled maintenance was my annual beach girls trip! We had glorious weather and we thoroughly enjoyed the beach, the pool and Charleston dining all week.

The Beach Girls!

The Beach Girls!

crab-on-isle-of-palms-beach

Crab on the Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after Jim arrived, talk of the approaching storm began. Hurricane Matthew formed late in September 2016 and grew to a category 5 strength with 160mph winds by September 30th. It made landfall in Haiti and Cuba on October 4th as a category 4. Matthew hit the Bahamas hard October 5th as a category 3 and 4 hurricane and then moved up the east coast of the United States finally making landfall on October 8th.

All that to say, we had time to prepare.

Preparing for the Storm

Jumping into action, we moved whatever outdoor furniture we could, inside. Those pieces that were too big to fit through the doors were strapped to the poles by the pool. Propane tanks were turned off and latched down. Our front door is actually an old salvage door. Because of the age of the door and the fact that it opens in, we decided tboarded-upo board it up. hurricane-prep

 

Having done all we could, we stayed through Friday afternoon. Then we heeded the evacuation warnings and went inland to Columbia to spend the night with our son and daughter-in-law. We left knowing full well that the outcome of this storm was not in our hands. This home has been a tremendous blessing to us and the many people we have hosted.  It never belonged to us and if God chose to blow it away or flood it under a massive tidal surge, it was not up to us. Before we left, we took a walk to watch the angry waves rolling in as the storm approached.before-hurricane-matthew-iop-beach

 

During the Storm

Reportedly, peak wind gusts reached 69mph and total rainfall was about 10 inches the day of the storm. Storm surge was less than expected. Water came up only as far as the end of our sidewalk and stopped. We never had any flooding in the garage!

After the Storm

Saturday, we took our time leaving Columbia and monitored road closure reports. Route 26 was open by mid-afternoon but was littered with many fallen trees. Our travel app, WAZE, came in really handy as it alerted us to “object in the road ahead”.

As property owners on the island, we received hurricane re-entry stickers several years ago, so we were able to get back on the island Saturday when we arrived. I cannot even begin to describe the joy and relief we felt as we drove up to the house and saw that there was no damage. We didn’t even lose a shingle. There was plenty of debris in the yard and the pool was a mess. But using the net and running our little pool robot , we got it cleaned up nicely.

isle-of-palms-pool-after-matthew

iop-pool-cleaned-upGetting everything put back into place took us awhile but once it was done, we headed out to the see the beach. The 25th street access was flooded so we walked down to the curve and used the boardwalk at 21st street. Again, we were amazed! The beach took a battering and there were many access piers  lost but for the most part, very little damage to homes.

emmas-shell

Emma’s Shell

A surprise benefit of the storm was the huge display of fairly large and intact shells all along the beach. We were able to collect some great ones to bring back for our granddaughter, Emma.

Today

It is back to business as usual for us. Our October schedule was full and no one cancelled. Guests arrived October 12th and their only inconvenience was the flooded access to the beach. By now, even that is gone. In fact, we took a last minute booking for a group that booked a house in Wild Dunes, but because of hurricane damage, they were cancelled.

We feel abundantly blessed to have weathered this storm so well. We know it could have turned out very different.  Returning to Ohio, we had many friends ask us about the storm and why we thought our area had been spared any severe damage. We have no answer for that other than yet another blessing!

2-charleston-vacation-rental

 

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Book Our Vacation Rental for Your Labor Day Week at the Beach Today!

vacation rental Isle of Palms

Imagine walking the beach on a sunny fall morning

Can you imagine yourself right here, on the Isle of Palms beach this Labor Day!  I can! This certainly doesn’t look like the beach in the summer with crowds of people. I love the Fall on Isle of Palms.

Why Come in the Fall?

  • Less people!
  • Weather – It is still in the mid 70’s and low 80’s during the day in September and some of October. November days are often in the 70’s.
  • Less bugs!
  • Most attractions stay open year round
  • Plenty of special events to keep everyone busy

What is There to Do Besides Go to the Beach?

Here are just a few of the events coming up this Fall in the Charleston, South Carolina area:

This is only a sample. If you go here Charleston Visitor Site, you can put in your dates and see everything going on in the Charleston area for the time you are visiting.

How Do I Book Your Vacation Rental?

Take a look at our availability calendar. You can either call Kathy at 330-618-4893 or put in a booking request for the dates you want and Kathy will get back to you with a quote.

Don’t wait! Book Now! We currently have only about 5 weeks left September – November. One of those weeks is the week of September 5th, Labor Day week. The water will still be plenty warm and the pool won’t need to be heated.

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Best Tips for a Day at the Beach

Getting set up at the beach on Isle of Palms

Getting set up at the beach on Isle of Palms

The weather is perfect and vacation planning is well under way. You have probably already made your reservations, and now you’re planning your shopping list for those last minute things you will need on your beach vacation. Here are some of my best summer tips. Enjoy!

Coolers:

There are a variety of coolers on the market with a variety of price tags. I know the Yeti coolers are very popular and get rave reviews but they are also quite pricy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to worry about someone stealing my cooler while I’m dipping in the ocean or watching the kids. I like Coleman coolers and the Coleman 18-Quart Party Stacker is a reasonable price for a great cooler. I have one similar to this that my husband and I have used for over 25 years! It has held up great and keeps things cool all day.

coleman cooler
If you are looking for a disposable cooler (we often end up doing this when we have used a vacation rental and have food left over). The Lifoam 22 quart is a nice one. It has a handle and you can find them at Walmart.

 

 

 

 

Coleman 20 Can Party Stacker Cooler

 

Umbrellas:

Did you ever sit on the beach and watch people trying to get their beach umbrellas in place? It can be better than watching an episode of “Funniest Home Videos”! The trick with umbrellas is to buy one that can be well secured. An anchor or a screw in auger works well.
Here’s a handy tool called the Dig-It that is an anchor that comes with a shovel!

Dig-It

Dig-It

Or you can buy this nifty little accessory… an umbrella base that you fill with sand to weight down your umbrella.

Umbrella Weight

Build a Base

There are thousands of different types and sizes of umbrellas but the important thing is to make sure you bury them deeply into the sand, face them into the wind and keep watch to make sure they are secure if the wind direction/speed changes. Also, before you leave, check the regulations for the beach you are visiting. Some beaches have strict guidelines for umbrellas or don’t allow them at all.

Sunscreen:

Now this one is a must! You can get along without a cooler or an umbrella, but don’t go to the beach without sunscreen. Should you buy the highest SPF you can find? Well, I’m not so sure. Most experts recommend using SPF 30-50, but suggest you not bother with anything higher. The important thing with sunscreen is to put it on liberally and re-apply often. I was shocked to discover that if you use a 30 SPF but put it on too light, it can become a 15 SPF and there is a good chance you will burn. Don’t forget these spots that are easily missed:
Scalp
Lips
Ears
Neck
Back
Back of legs
Feet

And here is one last important tip, always take a shower and wash sunscreen off before going to bed. It can stain your sheets!

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Sea Foam

 

Sea Foam on Isle of Palms

Sea Foam on Isle of Palms in November 2015 right after a storm

 

Last November, I saw something on the beach that I had seen a few times and always wondered about. I was walking the beach shortly after a rather stormy period. I noticed huge globs of yellowish-white foam blowing off the water and collecting on the beach. What was this oddly shaped, jiggly blanket that seemed to come in and cover the sand randomly?

What Is In Sea Foam?

It is sea foam, also called ocean foam, beach foam, surfers suds or spume. Basically, it is ocean water that has been shaken up. You see, ocean water is really anything but clear. It is composed of lots of tiny particles. These are things like dissolved salts, proteins from plants and animals, dead algae, fats from dead animals and plants and many other tiny pieces of organic matter.

How is Sea Foam Formed?

The foam is created by agitation of the sea water mixing with all these tiny particles. It mixes them together much like a blender. Try this: Put some sea water into a glass and give the glass a good shake. You will see foam on the surface of the water. That is what happens on the beach, but on a much larger scale. The ocean is stirred up by wind and waves and sea foam washes up onto the shore. It is an awesome combination of ocean organic chemistry, water turbulence and light reflection for you science minded people!

Is Sea Foam Safe?

While sea foam makes for a rather picturesque look on the shore and allows for some pretty awesome pictures, it is best not to try to walk or swim through it. For one thing, you can’t see what you are stepping in and you might encounter things like jelly fish or snakes. That’s enough for me to decide to stay out of it! You might also step into a hole or a sudden drop off in the water that is clouded by the murky water.

Although sea foam may look dirty with it’s yellowish tint, it is generally only composed of things found naturally in the ocean, so the foam itself will not harm you if you touch it. Of course inhaling it is a bad idea just like inhaling a bunch of ocean water would not be wise.

Sea Foam

Sea Foam on Isle of Palms, South Carolina  a few days later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sand Dollars

2016-02-28 09.07.22

In the five years that I have been visiting the Isle of Palms beach, I have seen thousands of pieces of sand dollars. This past winter, while walking the beach at a very low tide, I found this beautiful sand dollar!

What Are They?

Sand dollars (sometimes called a “sea cookie”) are flat, burrowing sea urchins. The sand dollars we find on the beach (like the one above) are actually the exoskeleton of the live creature. They are usually white or light grey with a five-pointed shape on the back.

A live sand dollar has fuzzy spines and tiny hairs to capture food into their mouth in the center of the bottom side and to allow them to move along the shallow waters of the ocean. They are purple, reddish brown, yellow, green or black in color when living.

In calm waters, sand dollars will often stand on edge and partially bury themselves in the sand. In rough waters, sand dollars will lay flat and burrow under the sand. They will sometimes even swallow sand grains to weigh themselves down.

You would think this fragile looking creatures would have a very short life, but they actually have a lifespan of 6-10 years.

Is It OK To Keep A Sand Dollar?

As long as there is no sign of life in the skeleton, it is fine to keep them. Just turn it over and check for any fuzzy cover or tentacles.

How Can a Sand Dollar Be Preserved?

  • Soak it in fresh water
  • Keep changing the water until it is clear and has no odor
  • Make sure all pieces of the dead organism are cleaned out by soaking the sand dollar in a mixture of 2 cups of fresh water and one cup of bleach for 15-30 minutes.
  • To harden the shell, mix 50:50 water and simple white glue (such as Elmer’s) and brush it on one side
  • Dry completely, then brush the other side
  • A second coat can be applied for extra strength

Here is a link to a fascinating you tube video of a live sand dollar: Live Sand Dollar

 

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ISLE OF PALMS SEA TURTLE RELEASE WITH SOUTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM

Friday May 18th marked a very emotional day for hundreds of spectators who lined up and cheered as many volunteers wearing bright yellow “Sea Turtle Rescue” shirts cleared a path down the sands of Isle of Palms State park.  At 3pm the South Carolina Aquarium staff arrived with two Juvenile loggerhead sea turtles, Jammer and Hamlin Creek who awaited their release .  Both sea turtles were rescued from the Isle of Palms last spring/summer in critical condition and have been recuperating in the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.  As the staff from the Aquariums Sea Turtle Hospital released each turtle one at a time on the sand, they immediately charged the breakers in their epic journey back into the Atlantic. Hundreds cheered and clapped as the turtles disappeared into the ocean where they were welcomed by bottle nose dolphins.

IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog-1 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog-2 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog-3 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog4 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog5 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog6 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog7 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog8 IOP-Turtle-Release-Blog9

All photo credits: www.gardenhillphotograpy.com

Post by

Jamie Lucarelli
Charleston, SC

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