Which books are you must grabs for the summer reading list? What are the five best ways to style a scarf? Where are my spots for pimento cheese in the South? Find my favorite quick tips at Easy Pickins!

Preparing for Fall in the Kitchen

Yes – of course I cook in the summer. But let’s be honest. It’s already blazing hot outside, so my cooking is pretty simple. Some baked chicken and roasted veggies with a fresh summer salad for color – that’s been the routine around here. And we’re ready to shake things up!

As the calendar ticks closer and closer to September 1st, I can already smell the fragrant aromas of fall filling our home for months to come. Apple and cinnamon spiced cider, creamy pumpkin soup, baked pumpkin loaves and all the squash – ALL the squash! I’m preparing our kitchen for what’s ahead and sharing a few of my favorite kitchen gadgets with you!

First and foremost, I love seeing my recipes on display. Keeping the current recipe in clear view eases the process of cooking and ensures each ingredient makes it in the dish. If you use a paperback book, consider a traditional wooden display to keep your book open and within eye sight. If you use an electronic device like an iPhone or iPad, opt for something to keep the lights on!

Another favorite gadget – this little contraption that helps me turn vegetables into spiral noodles! I often use this to create a base of veggies to act as a pasta substitute or to create spiral “fries” in the oven.

My newest kitchen addition allows me to make smoothies, sauces, and much more. I can easily dice vegetables for a beautiful and fresh pico or finely puree spices and more for a topping or salad dressing.

Last but not least – and possibly the most important – the ultimate pie baking dish. My mother-in-law informed me (early on in my relationship with her son) that a pie dish can make or break the entire recipe. No pressure! I opt for a deep, ceramic dish to craft the perfect pie – and display it beautifully!

What are your go-to kitchen gadgets? Share them with me in the comment section below.

Happy cooking and baking,

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Summer Playlist

Photo credit, Lumina News

The Carolinas are well known for beautiful outdoor music venues. When our family travels to Blowing Rock, we enjoy Fridays on the Lawn – an event at the Inn at Ragged Gardens held each week throughout the summer and early fall. here in Wilmington, I’ve had the chance to enjoy a special event in Airlie Gardens, a local botanical garden and event center.

Airlie hosts a wide array of bands including hip-hop covers, bluegrass, country and more. Thanks to Airlie’s commitment to varied music, I have expounded my summer playlist to include new artists. Click on the links below to hear more of what I’m loving this year!

Who are some of your favorite artists? Share your go-to music in the comment section below.

Bibis Ellison

Signal Fire

Wailin’ Jennys

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Restoring Your Energy Bank

We’re on day 5 of rain here in the Carolinas, and I can feel my energy bank depleting with each passing cloud. It is important to maintain energy, and as a new mom I have struggled to find opportunities to fill up that energy bank after care taking, grocery runs, house repairs, and work. Today, I am sharing a few personal tips, inspired by an article from 60 and Me (click here or the image above).

What are some of your tips on refilling that energy bank? Share your go-to practices in the comment section below.

Stay energized,


  1. Take deep breaths. Each hour, take a couple seconds to pause your breathing and take in some extra air. This will still your mind and energize your body.
  2. Switch for water. While coffee seems like a source for energy, water is an opportunity to cleanse your body and refuel it with what it needs!
  3. Take a walk break. When you feel your energy waning, get some endorphins running through with a 20 minute walk break.


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Preparing for a Neighborhood Picnic

Last week, Thomas and I discussed our afternoon plans on our drive home from church. He remembered we’d purchased a large rack of ribs and was eager to grill in the blissful summer sun. Given the amount of food we had in our fridge, it was clear we needed more mouths to feed! I sent a message to four families, and three hours later – neighborhood party!

We asked each neighbor to bring an easy side, and before our eyes a feast appeared. Our menu included:

  1. Smoked barbecue ribs
  2. Barbecue chicken
  3. Sliced fresh watermelon
  4. Potato salad
  5. Macaroni and cheese casserole
  6. Coleslaw
  7. Arugula salad with berries and goat cheese
  8. Toasted baguettes
  9. Chocolate chip cookies + peanut butter cookies

In a short amount of time, we managed to gather 15 folks and lots of kiddos to enjoy an afternoon of great food and conversation. Thomas and I try to keep some delicious meats frozen for spontaneous get togethers, and a stock of potatoes and salad fixings for easy sides. Of course, when in doubt – just grab a watermelon and watch the party start!

How do you prepare for an afternoon with friends? Share your tips with me in the comment section below!

Happy gathering,


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Summertime Sips – Beverages for the Season

Recently, we’ve hosted our neighbors for spontaneous evenings of food and fun. Instead of purchasing the traditional sweet tea, I’ve tried to incorporate summer flavors in beautiful beverages and punch bowls for all to enjoy!

These recipes are simple to craft and bring so much color to your dinner table. Consider using produce local to your state for added brightness and flavor, and grab the fancy glasses for another pop of presentation! Click on the images to get the full recipe, and share which one you’re trying by commenting below.

Happy sipping,





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Layering Accessories for Summer

To dress up my favorite outfits, I love layering pieces with a simple outfit. During the summer, I find it easiest (and most comfortable) to choose lightweight options. When selecting a necklace, I opt for materials like bamboo or wood for an earthy look. If I need a dressier option, I go for a long lariat necklace with a thin chain and statement piece. If a scarf is in order, I always select breezy materials like breathable cotton or a crepe finish.

Below are a few of my favorite options, available now at ShopNational.com. Of these, which is your favorite? How would you pair it with something in your closet? Share your suggestions with me in the comment section below.

Happy layering,



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Sweet Treats for July 4th

Kids out of school, boats in the water, toes in the sand….it’s summertime in North Carolina! July 4th is such a great time of year to turn on the outdoor grill, invite the neighborhood to the back yard, and truly connect with family and friends.

We’re preparing for a night with our neighbors and crafting a few of our favorite sweet treats for the kiddos! Click on the images below for recipe details. What do you bake up for this time of year? Share ideas with me and I will be sure to repost to our Facebook page.

Happy 4th,


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Cooking up Fish

These last several weeks, Thomas and I have shifted from our typical chicken and beef dinners to something pretty easy to find on the coast – fish! In an effort to trim down our meat consumption, we began adding in fish at least twice a week and have fallen in love with these quick and easy recipes.

Top of my list is a pan seared tuna with a ginger glaze – I think I could eat it every week and never tire of its bright and savory flavors. I have also developed a love for grouper, a common fish here off the coast of the Carolinas. Served with some lemon and butter, it is simple, easy and downright mouthwatering!

Do you have a few recipes for a seafood dinner you absolutely love? Share your tips and tricks with me in the comment section below!

Happy cooking,



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Vacationing with Kids

School’s out for summer! It’s the perfect season for a getaway with the family, and we’ve taken a few adventures ourselves. Our galavants with a toddler shed new light on the ease (or lack thereof) of traveling. I went on the hunt for vacation spots best suited to large families. Check out my favorites below!

If you’ve read any of my blogs before this one – you know our family has a deep affinity for Blowing Rock, NC! It also happens to be a fantastic place for little ones. During the spring and summer months, Tweetsie Railroad hosts “Thomas and Friends,” perfect for your story loving bunch! Enjoy hikes through the mountains or around Price Lake and wonderful restaurants in town suited to littles.

While a little difficult to get to, Ocracoke Island is worth the effort! You can bike the entire island with your family in less than 20 minutes! Enjoy a drive onto the beach and set up camp to relish your surroundings. Grab a fishing pole or a boogie board and play in the ocean, or head back to town for a delicious lunch and tour of local shops. Ocracoke is just right for all ages!

If your family is anything like mine, you soak up a good museum tour and need some room to run and play. Washington, D.C. became a go-to for us as kiddos. With plenty of monuments to visit both during the day and at night, and loads of kid-friendly museums, we loved our time in the Capitol city. I cannot wait to take Hatton when she’s just a little bit older.

What are some of your favorite places to visit as a family? Share your suggestions with me in the comment section below.


Happy travels,

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Packing Light

Today, I am buried beneath laundry from 9 days away. We traveled to Ocracoke Island with my husband’s family and then met up with my family in Bath, NC to celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday! We enjoyed every second of our galavants, but the unpacking reminded me how thankful I was for this year’s intentional “light packing” efforts!

Especially in warmer months, I find it easier to prepare for a week away with minimal outfits. When preparing for our trip, I laid out a few shorts and shirts, all in neutral colors, and added in two pops of color to complete the wardrobe. With just a few pieces, I managed to create multiple outfits for our time away and keep my laundry to a minimum!

Below are a few pieces I keep on hand for weekend getaways. Easy layers, comfortable fabrications and solid colors – check!

How do you pack up for time away? Share your tips with me in the comment section below. Are you adventuring anywhere exciting this summer?

To getaways,


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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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