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.

North Carolina Coastal Getaway: Wilmington

Today is the first day of summer! It’s time to head out on some fun summertime getaways. Still looking for a place to go or things to do? Visit one of North Carolina’s most beautiful coastal towns—Wilmington. In this North Carolina Coastal Getaway spotlight, you will find our list of suggested attractions and activities for your vacation in this vibrant riverfront city.

With both village charm and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the Wilmington Historic River District and nearby island beaches offer a variety of dining and shopping options for anyone to enjoy. Downtown, stop at a quaint café, take a garden stroll, tour local film sites or board Battleship North Carolina. Three island beaches offer even more dining, attractions, and sight-seeing opportunities. Cast a line off the Atlantic’s oldest fishing pier at Kure Beach, learn to sail at Wrightsville Beach, or explore one of Food & Wine magazine’s top 10 boardwalks at Carolina Beach.

Here’s our list of can’t-miss-activities for visiting the old port town of Wilmington:

Step back in time while taking a tour of one of the most decorated battleships of World War II.


Image from VistNC.

Prepare to be charmed when you explore the Wilmington historic district by open-air trolley, horse-drawn carriage, or Segway.


Image from VisitNC.

You can also take a scenic cruise aboard a sailboat or riverboat. There’s much to appreciate from the river to the sea.


Image from Wilmington Tourism Authority.

Check out the North Carolina Aquarium to catch a glimpse of a variety of sea life, with everything from stingrays to baby sea turtles and eels to sharks. This attraction was recently named a top 20 aquarium in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.


Image from North Carolina Aquarium website.

Take a tour of the site of the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War at Fort Fisher.


Image from NC Historic Sites.

Enjoy dinner over the water while you observe breathtaking views at the Oceanic restaurant in Wrightsville Beach.


Image from VisitNC.

 

I hope you enjoyed my list of fun things to see and do in the Wilmington area. Now get out there and explore! Then report back to us with where your travels have taken you. We can’t wait to hear all about your own adventures. Share them with us in the comment section below.


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Vegetable Recipes for the Season

Summer is (almost) here! It’s time to harvest yummy vegetables and serve up delicious food all season long. From tomatoes and squash to beets and greens, I’m sharing a few fun uses for those veggies in your back yard. Simply click on the image for the recipe, and share your favorites in the comment section below.

Happy cooking,

Parker


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Garden Preparations for Spring

My husband and I recently moved and have not had time to plant a thing. At first, I was rather dismayed. I, like many others, assumed it was too late to get started with my garden. However, after researching my options, I learned that the warmth of spring prepares the soil to become an idyllic setting for planting seeds to harvest in late summer. With May around the corner, most regions of the US can stop worrying about impending or unexpected frost and get the most out of the upcoming harvest.

Here is a brief list of some of my favorite fruits and vegetables for a late summer harvest. What are your favorite items to plant and how do you prepare your garden? Share your tips with me in the comment section below.

Happy gardening,
Parker

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Summer squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes

 

 


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New Year, New Treats!

Hello friends! Welcome to my kitchen. Yes – you’re sitting in the middle of my favorite part of our home….our sweet, beachy kitchen with the best stovetop I could dream of (Jenn-Air, I love you!) I’m thrilled to invite you into my home today and share even more New Year’s recipes.

Last week, we talked one pot easy cooking for the year ahead. Today, I’m veering into the land of sweets once more…because no big, bold southern dinner is complete without a scrumptious dessert.

A beautiful parfait makes for an elegant table, while a baked cobbler remains a North Carolina (and Wilson family) staple. Between crisp fruits of upcoming seasons and lingering flavors of winter, these treats will have your mouth watering and table plentiful all season long.

Click on the images below for the full recipe, and share your favorite treats in the comment section below!

With love and sugar,

Parker


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Winter Crisps: Sweet Treats for the Season

peppermint

This week, my calendar is full of Christmas gatherings around town. On Thursday, we’re off to see the Christmas lights in a nearby town – famous for an extravagant and festive annual display. Friday night, it’s a neighborhood gathering at one house with a follow up party across the street the next night. In between? Girls’ brunch with a dear friend – and loads of holiday treats I am sure!

In preparation for these gatherings, I’m building up my repertoire of sweet treats and trying my hand at a couple new recipes! Click on the images (both above and below) to see what I’ll be making this week. Do you have any tried and true recipes to share? Please comment below with the full recipe. You’ll definitely help me impress “one and all” in my Christmas galavants this week!

Happy baking,
Parker

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holly-christmas-cookies

 


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Warm Sips for Winter

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This week, the Carolinas have seen cloudy mornings and rainy afternoons – and the damp chill of winter has settled in for the months ahead. While strolling through our neighborhood recently, I turned to my husband and said “This is the best time for hot chocolate.”

I find comfort in mixing up a warm beverage and plopping down on our cozy couch, backlit by the twinkle of our Christmas tree. To top it off, I love the aromas of a warm beverage coming from my crock pot. Below are a few recipes to enjoy this season. Simply click on the image for the recipe! (And enjoy the mint tea hot or iced – just in case you’re a California Christmas kind of person!)

What are your favorite recipes for this season? Share them with me in the comment section below – and Happy Christmas!

Warmly,
Parker

 

apple-cider

mint-tea

orange-rememdy


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Thanksgiving Tradition

I’m writing to you this morning from the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. It is here, for another beautiful year together, that we’re sharing Thanksgiving in Blowing Rock. In just a few hours, my sister, brother in law and niece will arrive – and the celebration can truly begin!

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I love spending the holidays in the mountains. Something about the crisp air and towering trees throw me immediately into the holiday spirit.  During our weekend in the mountains, we share several traditions – both old and new. Traditions from our childhood include buttermilk biscuits, coconut cake, tree decorating and endless board games. Some of our newer traditions? My personal favorite: choosing and cutting our own tree – directly from the rolling hills of the mountains! We share matching pajamas, late night laughs, and memories past of family we love. And at the end of the week, we walk together in the Blowing Rock Christmas parade!

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This year, I am most excited to celebrate with the newest member of our family – Bailey Swann Hodgson. At 9 months old, she is brimming with personality and joy. We cannot wait to create new memories with this sweet babe.

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What are some of your holiday traditions? Share them with me in the comment section below. Enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

 

With love,

Parker


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Preparing for the Chill | Cold Weather Travel

whistler

Snowy Saturdays are around the corner, and I’m thrilled to explore some of my favorite winter spots in today’s blog.

When Thomas and I lived in Vancouver, BC, we spent many weekends in Whistler. The stunning mountain town was a short one hour drive from the city, so we took many opportunities to get away from the bustling streets and find solace in the towering mountains.

Now that we are back in the Carolinas, I am sharing a few of my favorite winter weather spots for your weekend getaways!

 

winter

Asheville, NC

Asheville is a beautiful mountain town brimming with delicious food, stunning art galleries, and fantastic sites to visit. Between the candlelight tour at the Biltmore Estate and a food tour downtown, you will enjoy every minute of your weekend in Asheville.

 

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Highlands, NC

The Highlands sit west of North Carolina, just north of the Georgia border. This town is a seeming refuge amidst the tree tops and a beautiful spot for fall leaf watching and wintertime exploration. Consider a stay at the Old Edwards Inn for a true mountain experience.

 

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Blowing Rock, NC

Of course, our absolute favorite refuge is Blowing Rock. I’ve shared what I love about Blowing Rock many times before, but the list keeps growing. With the renovation of the Green Park Inn, new restaurants budding up on Sunset Blvd., and our favorite – the Spice Shop on Main Street – Blowing Rock affords activities and sites for all ages.

And if you are preparing for travel, indulge in new gloves, a hat, and layering pieces for the changing climate!

Where are you traveling this season? Share with me in the comment section below!

Happy trails,

Parker


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Football Season: Carolina Traditions

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When I think of fall, I can immediately sense the cool breeze of a Saturday afternoon and hear the distant melody of the marching band. Yes, it’s football season in the Carolinas, and Smith Swann family tradition is in full effect.

You see, UNC has always been a cornerstone of tradition in our home. Between day trips to watch a basketball game with my grandparents and Saturday adventures to Kenan Stadium for some football, my favorite childhood memories came from our time in Chapel Hill. Recently, my sweet 8-month old niece attended her first game (start them young!) As you can see from her photo, she enjoys Tar Heel game days and dresses up accordingly!

bae

As we escaped the wrath of Hurricane Matthew a couple weeks ago, I had the joy of experiencing another beautiful day in Chapel Hill. My sister graciously surprised us with tickets to a UNC football game, and it was the perfect distraction to the unsettling week leading up to Saturday. It was the perfect retreat from the storm, because Chapel Hill is our home away from home – both for me and my husband (who also grew up attending every game!)

football

We begin our time together at least four hours prior to the game, and make certain to have full tummies (with a little room for concessions of course) before heading in for kickoff. A typical Saturday spread includes a breakfast of biscuits, country ham, and fruit alongside plenty of sweet treats. Alternatively, for late afternoon games, we rely on good ol’ fashioned barbecue, fried chicken, potato salad and chips – super healthy of course! We’ve been known to wear coordinating jerseys and t-shirts, but more often than not we’re simply decked out in as much baby blue as possible. But what matters most? We’re together.

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Today, it’s a joy to bring friends to the place that brought us such delight as children. We love celebrating our Carolina Tar Heels, but moreover – we’re grateful to honor a childhood tradition and connect as family. What are some of your fall traditions?

 

Go Heels!


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parker

I am Parker. My mom, Lynda, is the owner and President of National Wholesale. We are a woman’s apparel company that I’m hoping you know about but if not, you’ll be inspired to learn. We’ve been around since 1952. And the business was started by my entrepreneurial grandfather, “Georgie” with the support of my grandmother, GaGa. I’ve been surrounded by clothing and hosiery since the day I was born. I've also been surrounded by the drive to stay in business, which means connecting with our customers.

So, this is my story.

And in a way, yours too. Welcome.

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