CAROLINA CHARM

When I share details of my hometown with folks, they often ask: “what was it like growing up in a small town?” My answer is short and sweet, much like the time it took me to stroll up to my grandparents’ house—it was a storybook.

The best part of being born and raised in Lexington is not solely found in our beautiful town. It is the community of hometowns that surround us, each with its own unique character, and charm. Today, I am fortunate enough to belong to two towns, Lexington, North Carolina and Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. That’s right! I’m a “half and halfer.” My husband and I live in Mount Pleasant while I commute twice a month to Lexington for work. It’s an adventure, and it’s worth every minute on the road.

Visit Carolina Charm to jump in the passenger seat of my road warrior days. From Blowing Rock to Ocracoke, Asheville to Charleston… the Carolinas hold my heart.

National Holidays With The Salvation Army

National and The Salvation Army deliver Christmas gifts to children

 

Happy Christmas from our own little “National North Pole.” — Every year, our team rallies in support of the Salvation Army. The Organization collaborates with companies and individuals to provide Christmas magic to children nationwide. This year, the non-profit set forth an ambitious goal of helping 2.6 million children! Without question, the needs of our national community are greater than ever before.

 

Ensuring a little “Santa” shows up is our favorite initiative to support and has become an annual tradition in the workplace. Each year, when I see the outpouring of love and generosity from our National team, I am undone. My grandfather believed in giving back to the community and spent his life trying to elevate those around him. His mindset continues to influence how we work – and give – at National.

 

We hope the spirit of Christmas finds its way to your doorstep this season! Thank you for being an invaluable member of the National family and making it possible for our team to give back.

 

With love,
Parker

 

 

 


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Giving Back With Gratitude

“Gratitude” may not be the first word that comes to mind when asked about 2020 as we ’round the corner to its end. Yet during the time leading up to this Thanksgiving week, National has been head-first in hands-on projects to help those in need—from the local community to children around the globe—and we are grateful to be able to do so this year.

 

It has been a decades-long tradition for National to engage in philanthropic and charitable endeavors, especially around the holidays—and despite the setbacks of 2020, this year is no exception. Some examples:

 

    • Samaritan’s Purse — An International Relief Project that collects and distributes essential items to children in need. Volunteers traditionally fill shoeboxes to be flown to locations worldwide and distributed one per child. This year, National employees rallied to fill 38 shoeboxes with hygiene items, toys, clothing, and more.
Samaritan's Purse Donations

Lynda Smith Swann, National Owner & President, Stands with Donations for Samaritan’s Purse.

 

 

    • Lexington Food Pantry — National’s employees have all pitched in to fill two large boxes with nonperishable food for local food pantries to distribute to the needy.

      Food Pantry 2020

      National Executives with Donations for Local Food Pantry

 

    • Uncommon Threads — A non-profit, Boston, MA boutique founded by stylist and influencer Susan Kanoff. It doesn’t stop with providing clothing for low-income, disaster-affected and at-risk women; Susan goes above and beyond by employing her talent for fashion to style the donations with personal care, creating new looks and ideas that ultimately boost self-image, self-confidence, and provide new opportunities.
      National has teamed up with Susan and Uncommon Threads this season, collaborating with her professionally on social media and donating clothing to her charity, supporting a desire to help others as well as those women whom the clothing will impact beyond just fashion.

       

      Women's Charity Boutique

      Uncommon Threads, a Boston, MA Empowerment Boutique

       

      Susan Kanoff, Founder

      Susan Kanoff, Uncommon Threads Founder

       

    • Christmas Angel Tree — The Salvation Army’s holiday charity is an annual must at National. This year, employees chose twenty children and bought them their “wishlist” items. From clothes to shoes, sports equipment to a Barbiedoll Dreamhouse, no request went unanswered.
      christmas gifts

      Gifts for Christmas Angel Tree Children at National’s Headquarters

 

    • American Children’s Home — National is currently running a week-long sale at their nearby brick-and-mortar outlet, where everything is priced at just three dollars per item. 100% of all sales will be donated to the American Children’s Home, the local orphanage where founder Eddie Smith was raised.
Orphanage

Lynda Smith Swann Stands Outside of Lexington, NC Orphanage.

 

 

 

Company Founder

Eddie Smith left a practice of doing good in Lexington and National continues to foster and pass along that culture. Throughout the uncertainty and tension of late, helping others and spreading good is something we can all do, and be thankful for, any and every year.

 

 

 

 

 

www.ShopNational.com


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Simply Noelle

Simply Noelle has been a favorite brand of mine for many years. You may remember when my Mom and I visited headquarters a few years ago (and stayed the entire day reviewing samples and playing dress-up!).

 

When National started carrying the line, I was absolutely thrilled! The pieces are easy to wear, designed with flattering silhouettes, and constructed with soft fabrics.

 

The company launched in 2005 and is headquartered in Wilmington, North Carolina. It has grown to include a variety of apparel and accessories, with each collection including easy mix-and-match items. Perfect items for seasonal transitioning, Simply Noelle’s assortment lends itself to ease and versatility all year long. This summer, I am living in these three items. Each one pairs well with leggings, denim shorts, or summer white capris. Which shirt is your must-have?

 

shirt

Roll-Up, Button-Down Henley by Simply Noelle®

shirt

Slimming Side Panel Top by Simply Noelle®

shirt

Tie Down Stripe Top by Simply Noelle®

 

Stay cool,

Parker


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12 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in July

’Tis the season to be merry, bright, and HOT! That’s right folks, it’s Christmas in July this week! This unofficial holiday, reportedly founded in Brevard, NC in 1933, has since become a fun concept celebrated all across the globe, whatever the season. Here at National, it’s undoubtedly summer—and we’re always in the thankful, joyous spirit.

 

In lieu of the twelve days of Christmas, here are twelve ways to celebrate Christmas in July this year.

 

  1. Make a Christmas dinner. Whether a traditional bird or a conservative casserole, fun with food is one of the best hands-on ways to dive right in to the holiday spirit!
  2. Strut around in your favorite holiday sweaters and your best red and green attire.
  3. Don’t have a holiday sweater, or just want something new? Perhaps try starting a knitting project! Here are some free “getting started” templates from knittingbee.com.
  4. Send mini Christmas cards to your loved ones – a sure-shot way to spread good cheer.
  5. Bake some sweet holiday treats. From classic Gingerbread Men to Soft Sugar Cookies, there’s nothing like the aroma of warm baked goods to bring the holiday season to life.
  6. Buy yourself and/or your loved ones small “Christmas” gifts.
  7. Any leftover material from the cards and packaging can be used to decorate your living space! Here’s a neat DIY wreath idea from womansday.com, as well as some paper decoration ideas that are absolutely adorable!
  8. Enjoy some Christmas classics. Hallmark channel will be airing a medley of Christmas movies 24 hours a day up until Sunday evening, so pick up the remote and enjoy a binge fest any time of day or night!
  9. Sing, play, and/or listen to Christmas carols.
  10. Do some early Christmas shopping. Certain retail stores are even offering discounts on Christmas décor and the like, so grabbing some stuff early could help save time and money later on in the year.
  11. Craft some fun Christmas-themed drinks. But since it’s not exactly the month for hot cocoa, try sipping on something cold, like these super cute Polar Bear Frozen Hot Chocolates!
  12. Give to a charity or sponsor a child. After all, giving is one of the very best things about the holidays.

 

How will you celebrate? Share with us in the comments!

 

Wishing you good cheer,
Rebecca

 


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Top Picks for Christmas in July

Did you know Christmas in July actually started in North Carolina? Yep, nearly 90 years ago at a girls’ camp in Brevard. And here in Lexington, National is celebrating with our own mini event! We’re featuring different daily savings all week long. (To keep current with these, you can have them e-mailed to you each morning.) Here are some of my favorite brands and styles of the week—’tis the season!

 

UltraSofts® are such a good wear this time of year – as the sun tends to linger around these days, the UPF 50+ helps shield the skin from harmful UV rays, making for a great “Christmas” gift, as well! A couple of my favorites are this Diagonal Yoke Top and the Isabella Top – so classic and comfy!

Shirt women's UltraSofts®

Diagonal Yoke Top by UltraSofts®

 

womens shirt

Isabella Top by UltraSofts®

 

To kick that UPF 50+ up a notch, Wic-Tech™ apparel sports that along with moisture wicking. The fabric is easily movable and feels fresh and breathable—ideal for anything from my daily walks to athletic activity. The Skort is super cute and feminine, too!

Wic-Tech™ clothing

Wic-Tech™ Attractive-wear by National®

 

These Reebok® Princess Classics are so comfy – I could wear them every day. The soft lining absorbs moisture, they’re vented, and are padded on the inside—the combination of which really does the trick for me for summertime wear.

womens reeboks

Reebok® Princess Classics Tennis Shoes

 

After a long, hot day, there’s nothing like kicking back in a lightweight lounger! This Santa Fe Border Dress is actually fitting for any time of day, but the easy crinkle cotton style just makes it a good go-to for cooling off.

dress

Santa Fe Border Print Dress by National®

 

Christmas in July can still be celebrated, even from the comfort of home! Which styles inspire you most? Share with us in the comments section!

 


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Summertime Picnic

 

With all our kiddos home this summer, we’ve been planning some outings in Wilmington (well…as soon as the sun decides to show up). One of my favorite places to visit – Airlie Gardens. Our local outdoor garden feels like a magical kingdom to our sweet toddler…and it is the perfect spot for a summer picnic.

 

When planning out our day adventure, I have a few picnic must-haves. Of course, I need a great blanket on which to throw all our food and (THREE) children. Still can’t believe that number.

 

  1. Perfect picnic blanket:The only towel/blanket/cloth I need in my life right now – anything from Fair Seas Supply Co. I am such a fan of the company’s products and commitment to sustainability. The colors and patterns are so cheerful – perfect for summer!
  2. Picnic bag: If you’re looking for a personal picnic tote, check out Modern Picnic. These sleek lunch totes double as a purse – the perfect addition to any look! For larger outings, I grab my large tote from National. It’s the perfect weight for carrying everything you need for a big family picnic!
  3. Cheerful sundress:What’s a summer picnic without a lightweight summer dress? Choose from one of my three go-to options for a breezy afternoon at Airlie. Which one is your favorite?
dress

Smocked Denim Dress by National®

 

dress

Striped Hem Dress by UltraSofts®

dress

Knit Circle Dress by UltraSofts®


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Love is a Flower-ful Thing

We’re on day 2 of rain here in Wilmington, and I do not see a change in the forecast anytime soon. But as I stare out of the window at the gloomy sky, my eyes stop on the beautiful yellow tulips my husband brought home a few days ago. His kind gesture reminds me of my childhood.

 

No matter the day, season or occasion – fresh cut flowers graced our home every single week. Even when my mom was first married and working multiple jobs, she managed to squeeze in a few buds to keep her home bright and cheerful. When I got married during graduate school, I tried to do the same (not perfectly of course – her arrangements are always breathtaking – but enough to keep some vibrancy in our sweet and tiny first place together).

 

My granddad only solidified my love of flowers with his magical green thumb, beautifully evident in a large rose garden he tended himself, and several orchids he managed to grow and sustain for countless years. It seems that no matter where I looked as a child, a happy flower greeted me at every turn.

 

Below are a few of my favorite cost-effective arrangements to bring some joy into your home. Do you have a favorite color or flower? Share with me in the comment section below!

Tulips

Gladiolus

Queen Anne’s Lace

Enjoy the view,

-Parker


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One Word: An Annual Exercise in Intention Setting

If you’ve followed If the Muu Muu Fits since the beginning, you know what today means! It’s time for my One Word for 2020.

To refresh your memory, instead of setting New Year’s Resolutions or goals for the upcoming year, I spend my time reflecting on the previous year and staying open to one word. This practice has afforded me more freedom in goal setting, as I root in one particular intention instead of setting seemingly countless (often inauthentic) goals. Centering on one word allows me to make certain any goal for the next year is filtered through the overarching theme of that word.

In 2019, my one word was SLOW. Wow – was this one a doozie! Anytime I found myself caught up in the hustle or moving quickly to finish a task, that word would echo in my mind and ground me in the present. I can’t say I aligned my life perfectly to the practice of “taking it slow,” but I was much more intentional in saying yes to anything that might overload my schedule or detract from my family.

For 2020, my one word is RELEASE. With twins on the way and the balance of a toddler/workload/adulting, this word resonates with me in a big way. I can sense space when I see this word and feel a calming peace when I speak it into existence. When Hatton was born, I tried desperately to control every scenario. I clamored to check off a to-do list instead of being present to time and space. When I consider releasing expectations, to-do lists and that overwhelming perfection pursuit – I look forward to the chaos on the way, because I know the season is temporary and I will need a lot of help to move through it.

Do you have any big goals for 2020? Have you started the one word process and landed on something? If so, please share with me. I love knowing what you’re looking forward to in the New Year!

Here’s to everything good in 2020, friends.

Parker


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A National Christmas Gathering

This week, our entire National family gathered to celebrate the start of the holiday season! This family has grown to include more than 200 of our closest friends, and the Christmas party remains one of my favorite traditions…because I get to see everyone with whom I grew up. We include all current employees and retirees for a full afternoon of food, fun, and of course, – BINGO.

A few of my favorite moments from our Christmas celebrations:

  • All. The. Food.: Every year, we have a big spread including mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, green beans, biscuits and loads of pie. (Of course, don’t forget the sweet tea!)
  • Bingo: This was my grandmother’s favorite game, and as such, a requirement at the National Christmas party! And, in the true spirit of real Bingo – we play for cash, y’all.
  • Giveaways: We have drawings for just about everything! Gift cards, centerpieces and more. As a child, I had the privilege of drawing names…my absolute favorite job at National.
  • Anniversary Honors: Every year, we celebrate the work anniversaries of our team members. Without fail, I am amazed by the commitment and dedication of our National family, many of whom have been a part of the team for more than 30 years.

Do you have any special Christmas traditions with friends and families? Share them with me in the comments below, and enjoy a few snapshots from this year’s big hurrah!

Happy Christmas,

Parker

 


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Amazing Sides for the Season

This year, Thomas and I will celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. Admittedly, I am intimidated to bring any dish to the table – his family should write a cookbook of their own! But, thanks to some diligent research and impending practice, I feel confident in this year’s selections. I started scouring for beautiful Thanksgiving side dishes before November even arrived and am 100% the person who will practice on the neighbors before adding a dish to my in-laws’ Thanksgiving spread!

So, what will I be practicing these next few weeks? Take a gander at the four side dishes I have zeroed in on for November. I cannot wait to try these out and get some feedback from the neighbors. Which one looks most appealing to you? Share your must-have side dishes with me in the comment section below.


Roasted Vegetable Galette

 

Classic Green Bean Casserole

 

These Mashed Potatoes Are So Perfect It’s Stupid

 

SWEET POTATO ROUNDS WITH HERBED RICOTTA AND WALNUTS

 

Happy cooking,

Parker

 


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