EASY PICKINS

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!

Wednesday Recipe Series-Quick and Delicious Salmon

I’ve shared this recipe once before, but it’s too delicious not to share again. Say hello to my favorite one-pan salmon dish. As the mama of a toddler, anything I can do to make dinner quick and easy is absolutely a dream. Success in creating a delicious, restaurant worthy dish? Well that’s just unthinkable.

Until  found this recipe.

Salmon with Honey Dijon, Roasted Kale and Potatoes

And a little cheat sheet – I snag a bag of kale already chopped to make life a little easier and mix up purple, red and Yukon gold potatoes for added flavor.

Do you have a favorite one-pan recipe? Share it with me in the comment section below!

Happy cooking,

Parker

 

 

 


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Slip(per) and Slide Into Comfort

We planned a mini “staycation” this past weekend and cherished a few days with no plans, right here in our sweet town of Wilmington. I found myself enjoying the comfort of home in a new way – savoring the simplicity of a Saturday morning with pancakes, and taking time to water the garden with some intention (and snagging red peppers ripening like crazy on our biggest haul yet). Still in those hot summer days – typical for the Carolinas in mid-August; I reached for my most comfortable slides to wander around the house in and spend time out back.

As we round out the summer, I’m sharing a few easy slides and slippers to keep on hand for staycation weekends (ok…let’s be real. For anytime at all!)  If you’re looking for comfort and style or to complement your look, opt for the beautifully detailed black leather Delana Vanna Sandal. If you’re like me and craving time at home, grab a pair of Dearfoam slippers for comfort and support while enjoying relaxation. The printed Ryka sandal is ideal for a beach day or casual stroll around the neighborhood. Looking for an easy slip-on to get those steps in? Easy-Spirit’s floral slide has great support and traction while maintaining comfort and style.

Delana Venna Sandals Clarks®

 

Floral Scuff Slippers
Dearfoams®

Marilyn Sandals Ryka®

Seasonal Traveltime Walkers
Easy Spirit®

 

Which one is your favorite?

 

Happy fall,

Parker

 


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Bold Colors of Fall

Halfway through August – I can’t believe it. I’m not sure where the time went, but I am embracing the calendar and counting down to fall. My closet remains in a state of transition, moving between sleeveless shirts and cardigans on the regular. Typically, I lean towards a muted color palette. But recently, I have braved the bold world of color and pattern to diversify my closet and brighten my wardrobe. Especially as we transition seasons, I am trying to incorporate the boldness of summer days into my daily style.

Our design team has embraced the beauty of fall and showcased it through detailed embroidery, unique silhouettes and playful pattern. Below are three particular options incorporating some of my favorite trends for this season. What are you looking forward to in this upcoming season?

Grommet Detail Knit Top
UltraSofts®

Embroidered Jeans
National®

Print Medley Dress
La Cera®


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Healthy Comfort Food | Back to School Series

This fall, our daughter is headed to the sweetest little Pre-K program 5 days a week. I am so excited to see her grow, learn and thrive in a new environment. But admittedly, I’m a bit nervous for the “routine” of it all. Our collective schedules are already a bit packed between work, life and toddler joys. And I’m not the best at punctuality….consistency….and like, general life things that require adulting. Cooking falls in this category, and while I used to love it, feeding an entire family began to feel unexpectedly overwhelming. This was (entirely) due to the fact that I attempted previous recipes requiring 1.5-2 hours and multiple courses. Not feasible for this mama! The other part about “back-to-school,” even before I had a kiddo, that felt daunting, was my personal emphasis on healthier eating as summer came to a close. Between summer barbecues and spontaneous outings with friends, I tend to fully ditch a routine meal plan but, begin to crave the stability of it as fall rounds the corner.

I figured, I couldn’t be the only one evaluating my calendar and preparing for that “back-to-school” mindset. Even for those of us without kiddos in school, there is something about coming out of summer and resetting for the Fall I find exhilarating….and a bit daunting. To ease the transition, I’m starting a six week series of healthy recipes for back-to-school prep. Ideally, each of these will have a sliver of leftovers for our girl’s next day lunch.

To get back to the joys of cooking and bring some consistency to our week, we loosely meal plan for the week by sketching out favorite dishes and compiling a grocery list. (I then pick the recipe I most “feel” like day of!) . We’ve gotten into a bit of a rut, cooking the same things fairly consistently. So recently, we began searching for healthier versions of our favorite comfort foods.

Give me anything that includes bacon and buffalo sauce, and I’m right back in my southern, college game day, tailgating roots. Throw in a healthier version of my favorite combination? Yes, please. All over it. When I read about Mary’s Whole Life and her approach to one of my favorite dishes, I knew I had to try it. I kept the recipe as is, opting for the mild version of New Primal’s (incredible) buffalo sauce. When my sister makes this for her family, she adds red onion. Want even more kick? Throw in a jalapeño!

Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole {Whole30}

Hatton loved the Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole

Do you have a recipe you’d like featured during this series? Comment below with either a link or your recipe, and we will include our favorites!

 

Happy cooking,

Parker


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Starting Now for Later

Here in Wilmington, our last “frost date” was March 28th – just last week. Tis the season to start planting, my friends.

The biggest (and ok – possibly most obvious) takeaway I learned in last year’s planting season: start those seeds indoors. We had much greater success with the vegetables we start indoors and transferred to our outdoor raised beds.

So what will we be planting this year? We are considered a “zone 8a” in Wilmington, so in looking more into best suited options (and my favorite cooking companions), I have selected a few favorites to enjoy later this year: Brussel sprouts, cucumbers and squash.

Do you need to find your planting calendar and recommended foods? Click here to learn more. What will you be planting this year?

Happy gardening,

Parker


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The Countdown to Christmas

When we consider the countdown to Christmas, we normally think about a race to finish last minute gifts and a mad dash to wrap everything perfectly. But in the Swann family, countdown means one thing: Hallmark movie marathons.

A few of our favorites from this year?

It’s Christmas, EveLeAnn Rimes and Tyler Hynes headline this recent addition to the holiday lineup. Think “meet cute” + small town love, under the magical starlight of Christmas!

Christmas at the Palace: Who doesn’t love a fairytale love story set in a castle? Enjoy a holiday twist on a classic love story with this Swann favorite.

Entertaining Christmas: What happens when you’re supposed to go into the family business…but you don’t know how to do any part of it? Add this one to your list for a comical and heartwarming holiday film.

What are your favorite holiday movies? Share the must-watch list in the comment section below. Enjoy the fireside fun this Christmas, dear friends!

Stay cozy,

Parker
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Holiday Hustle | Finding Calm in the Chaos

As this season brings holiday gatherings and trips to visit family, it is common to find ourselves swept up in the chaos of Christmas. Between travel obligations and family visits, we can lose sight of the true meaning of this joyous season.

Here are a few pointers to keep calm and enjoy the holidays:

  1. Set parameters. Create space at least once in your week to walk for an hour, enjoy a yoga class, or sit with a friend over coffee. Developing respites will allow your mind to calm and settle in on what is most important.
  2. Start your mornings in quiet. In the last several weeks, I’ve set my alarm an additional 20 minutes in advance to wake up and enjoy quiet by myself. Again, tying into boundaries, this space has offered me some calm before a busy day begins – allowing me to align my priorities and be present.
  3. Create lists. Often, chaos is created through our thought process. If we have a lot on our mind, it is important to get it on paper and let it be. Emptying your brain of what you “must do” gives space to set what is most important, and enjoy the time and space in front of you.
  4. Focus on the Reason. Christmas is a time of celebration. The season is an opportunity to reflect on God’s greatest gift to us, His son. When we step back and center our hearts on His promise, the chaos fades away.

How do you keep calm in the Christmas crazies? Share some tips with me in the comment section below!

With love,

Parker

 
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Lounging in Fall

This time of year is, of course, my favorite. Vibrant colors illuminate the roadways. The temperatures lower and the breeze sets in. And when I step outside, I hear a family’s laughter and smell an outdoor grill preparing a delicious meal. Dear friends, welcome to fall in the Carolinas.

On Saturday afternoon, during our daughter’s nap, we lit a fire in our outdoor fireplace and snuggled up with a book. Somewhere in between the cool breeze and the crackling fire, I considered a brief life change to a city where this season occurs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Then I realized North Carolina is the closest thing to perfect, because we have the gift of four distinct seasons.

The key to really enjoying this time of year? Spend time outside! I’ve selected a few of my favorite pieces to take you from a cozy afternoon indoors to a lounge filled afternoon on the back porch. Click on the images to read more about my favorite “lazy Saturday” options. Which one is your favorite?

Stay cozy,
Parker

 


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An Adventure in Iceland

In early October, Thomas and I hopped on a surprisingly short flight to cross off our number one bucket list destination: Iceland. Since our first month of marriage, we’ve discussed celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Iceland. We’ve dreamed, schemed, saved and planned. And after years of wondering and hoping – we did it. Friends, it was without question the best adventure I’ve taken (and my favorite with my best friend).

Some of our favorite sites included….

a stroll down the Black Sand Beach outside of Vik,

a tour of one of many waterfalls in Iceland,

a walk to the top of Godafoss Falls,

and a hike to the top of a crater!

Friends have asked what I loved most about our time abroad. Of course, it was incredibly special to share one on one time with Thomas without our little on racing around us. We missed her during our time away, tremendously, but we also realized the importance or time together – how it used to be before her beloved arrival!

In addition to the exciting exploration of a new place with my husband, I loved the simplicity, ruggedness, and isolation of Iceland. During our last two days in the country, we found an Airbnb in a remote town 30 minutes from the nearest gas station (and that gas station was located in a town of 25 people). Soaking in the vast creation – without the distractions of city lights, billboards or bustling streets – afforded an appreciation and connection to the surrounding area.

Are you considering an international adventure? Here are a few packing and traveling tips I learned from our time abroad.

  1. Dress – and pack – in layers. Specifically in Iceland, this tip is incredibly helpful. We experienced sun, snow and rain during our 9 days abroad. I packed tank tops, long sleeve shirts, mid layers and large winter coats.
  2. Check accepted credit cards. We’ve used American Express for nearly 15 years. I have traveled with it consistently, but upon arriving in Iceland, we found it challenging to use our card. We leaned on our Visa debit for most purchases…and we never used cash (to our surprise!)
  3. Choose an airline that operates all legs of your flight. We booked the cheapest flight we could find and, if I’m honest, got what we paid for. Our experience with Icelandair was less than ideal and has resulted in continuing customer service issues we’re trying to resolve now that we’re back in the states. Icelandair partners with other airlines to service U.S. flights and ultimately departs from large airports (Newark, JFK, Boston) with its flight to Iceland. Our travel woes began the minute we got to Raleigh Durham and continued on our return journey. We recommend flying United (normally not my favorite, but we booked a United flight last minute when things went haywire with Icelandair and it was incredible), American Airlines, or Delta for all international trips.

 

I’ll be sharing more tips from our travels in future blogs. What questions do you have for me about our trip? Let me know what I can share by sending a message through the comment section below.

Happy adventuring,

Parker

 
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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,
Parker
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