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.

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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All Things Pumpkin

Can you tell I’m all about fall? If this isn’t your season of choice, perhaps tune out until the holidays. However, if you’re a fan of toddlers hanging out at a pumpkin patch, I suggest you tune in next week!

In the spirit of pumpkin patch preparation, I am sharing three recipes featuring this famous fall fruit (who knew it was a fruit?!) Click on the image to read more about each recipe.

Do you have a favorite recipe for this time of year? Please share in the comment section below, and I will be sure to give it a go during this festive time of year!

Protein Pumpkin Pancakes

Vegan Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Spinach

The Best Pumpkin Bread

Happy pumpkin prepping,

Parker

 


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Yesterday, Today, and Always-Our National Family


“The National Family”

We are thrilled to announce that SHOPNATIONAL.com has been formally recognized by Newsweek as #1 ranked on their list of “Best Online Shops 2020” for Women’s Fashion (single brand). We have the honor of sitting alongside some incredible brands in the industry, including Chadwicks, Victoria’s Secret, and White House Black Market.

More than anything, I wish my grandparents could see this milestone – a tribute to their hard work, deep belief and commitment to our National family.

Founded in 1952, NATIONAL started from humble beginnings as a mail order business by Eddie Smith, my grandfather, in the town of Lexington, North Carolina. An exemplary American entrepreneur, “Georgie,” as he was known to most, cared for and evolved the company based on a customer-centric philosophy, and in 1999 at the age of 80, he was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame.  

“The Early Days”
I remember these days so clearly….I strapped on roller skates and made my way through the warehouse as a little girl. The rows and rows of inventory made for perfect hide and seek territory. Many individuals in this photo are with National today and, therefore, my giant extended family for which I am so thankful.

 

Today, NATIONAL continues to thrive under the personal care of my gifted and compassionate mother, Lynda Smith. We  remain committed to offering a wide range of apparel and accessories, designed for the mature woman to provide them with all-day comfort and style.

We have long held to our mission –  “Living the Comfortable Life.”  The second-generation, family-owned business has thrived in the trade for over 65 years thanks to the commitment my Grandfather made to the customer – first and foremost.

“Family Leading Family”
Growing up in family business, I don’t remember the business suits and posed photos. I remember my Grandfather’s 6 a.m. visits to our house after his morning jog. I would come downstairs and find him in the sunroom with my mom discussing work, family and everything in between. Sometimes the conversations centered around really important, often difficult business decisions. Always, the conversations ended with a hug and a smile. Family first, no matter what.

“All in the Family”
In the years since business school, it has been an incredible journey with the National family in my role as business strategist. Collectively, my mom and I have evaluated key opportunities for the business and learned to work together with respect and excitement for all that is ahead. Not often an easy task in family business, but for us…thankfully…it’s (almost always 😉 ) pure joy.

So, how did we get recognized by an international publication for this commitment?Newsweek developed the rankings based on an independent survey of 20,000+ U.S. customers who were asked whether they’d recommend brands to friends or family. Respondents also assessed the brands on their communications, technical competence, service range, customer focus, and accessibility. More than 130,000 evaluations were collected.

That means – YOU

Our National customer, you shared feedback and supported National’s leap into the spotlight. More than that, you have walked alongside our team….our family…for generations. Thank you for being a part of the National family!

“Give Personal Care”
Mom taking time to read and answer letters from our loyal customers, our extended family!

 

 

With gratitude and love,

Parker

 

 


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Making Community as an Adult

Courtesy of Summer Lambert Photography®

In college, I landed in the friendship honeypot. There we were – same age, same goals, same location. We were 600+ girls all living in one gigantic building. Developing friendships didn’t take much effort. I basically had to wake up and go to class. (Ok yes, sometimes that took effort….but hey – I did it!)

Making community as an adult is far from easy. The complexities of life seem to increase – more work, lots of family, obligations at home, and the same number of hours per day. When I moved to Wilmington, I left behind a community of incredible women in Charleston, SC. I was a new mom with no friends in town. My husband had a new job and was logging pretty intense hours learning the ropes of the Company. With a colicky baby and the demands of my own career pressing in, I knew my heart needed community – and quickly.

In November of 2017, I attended a networking event in Wilmington. I stood in the corner, trying to muster up courage to meet a new friend. I stayed in that corner for a while until finally, my husband – with some sixth sense – sent me a text that said “just go say hello.” And the rest is history.

Melissa Tyson, the beauty in the yellow dress, was one of the first individuals I met that fateful night. In the last two years, she has introduced me to countless women. I’ve developed friendships with women in my same industry, brand new moms, moms-in-waiting, working moms, creatives and more. Each woman contributes to my life in a profound way, speaking truth into a particular place in which I desperately need support and encouraging an element of my life that would otherwise suffer. I’ve found that while it is difficult to make community in the waves of life’s seasonality, we all share a common need: relationships.

All it took was one event – and a dose of vulnerability. I told Melissa a smidge of my story and asked for her help. One ask, and her willing yes. That is where community begins – within the boldness of a request and the courage to answer.

If you are searching for friendship in a tough season, I encourage you to sit in a coffee shop or walk through a grocery store – and seek a friend. Just say hello….and see what happens next.

 

With love,

Parker


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