PEOPLE YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW
As a blogger, I’m part of a beautiful community of creatives. We may share our ideas through a virtual network, but often times we have the opportunity to connect in person, sit down and chat, and really get the creative juices flowing! Grab your coffee and meet my friends, appearing as guest bloggers in this near-to-my-heart section.
As many of you know, National is headquartered in Lexington, NC. This week, our entire state is preparing for a massive storm fondly referred to as “Flo” by the locals. We’re battening down the hatches along the coast and preparing for a heavy dose of rain statewide…and we’re saying some prayers along the way.
I’m writing today to tell North Carolina (and our neighboring states) how proud I am to call this place home. If you’ve followed National’s story, you know our roots are firmly planted in this beautiful state. My grandfather – with whom I celebrate my birthday this week – was orphaned at a young age and raised in the Junior Order Home (now American Children’s Home), just a few miles from the house in which I was raised. When he left the orphanage at 18, he chose to stay in Lexington and build his life – and ultimately his business – within its caring and supportive community.
The town in which I was raised is one you read about in storybooks. The cashier at the grocery knows when your dog is at the vet. The server at the corner deli knows to bag up some chicken soup for your dad who is down with a cold. The stranger you pass on the street doesn’t look away but engages in genuine conversation for at least 5 minutes (be prepared to live slowly, in the Carolinas). The goodness of my hometown is not unusual. Instead it is a small glimpse into the rest of our great state.
I now live in Wilmington, a coastal town preparing to receive the brunt of this storm. Yesterday, I paused storm preparations and ran a few errands. I stopped by our local seafood shop, which sits on the water, to grab ingredients for one final coastal meal before the clouds roll in. (A note on storm prep – small businesses feel the weight of these storms intensely. Consider supporting them in the final prep days with a bump in sales!) The team was in full force, many of whom were not getting paid to work but simply there to help.
On my way home, I stopped at the post office and managed to drop a large box in the middle of the street (note to self: do not attempt balancing a toddler and large box simultaneously). A gentleman, removing awnings in preparation for high winds, descended from his 10-foot ladder to help me….and carry my box all the way to the post office.
Pictures of the goodness of humanity….and the very essence of North Carolinians. It is this spirit that permeates our landscape – a loyal connection to our community and an unwavering resilience we carry together. As North Carolina and our neighboring states prepare for the uncertainty Florence brings, we also shoulder up with our collective neighbors and offer a helping hand to a perfect stranger….not because it’s what we do. But because it’s who we are.
Stay safe, neighbor.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Take a walk break. When you feel your energy waning, get some endorphins running through with a 20 minute walk break.
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:
- Smoked barbecue ribs
- Barbecue chicken
- Sliced fresh watermelon
- Potato salad
- Macaroni and cheese casserole
- Arugula salad with berries and goat cheese
- Toasted baguettes
- 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!
If you’ve ever visited my home, you will quickly find that I am a fan of a muted color palette. It can get a little drab, at times, but overall – I’m a sucker for black, white, gray and all neutral colors in between! As the mama to a spunky baby girl, I wanted to incorporate more color in our home (proven fact – color is key to development for babies!) My dear friend, Whitney Walker, is quite talented in both teaching me how to mama and building rooms with color.
The plus side of a home filled with neutrals – adding color is a cinch! Here are a few lessons learned from Whitney. How do you incorporate color in your home? Share your tips and tricks with me in the comment section below!
- Use what you have. Since I have a background of neutral, I chose to accent my master bedroom and living room with color. Bright lumbar pillows in green, purple and blue coordinate easily with my large linen throw pillows and white duvet.
- Start small. Add color simply with either a pillow or throw blanket. Especially in a very muted home, decor pieces are easy to swap out (especially if your apt to change your mind often!)
- Consider the walls. When trying to break out of my neutral rut, I looked to paint! I opted for a pale ice blue in our master bedroom and a mint green in our daughter’s room. The rest of the furniture is muted – so the walls pop perfectly…just enough color for me!
- Do the unexpected. If you’re really up for a change, repaint a piece of furniture, like a dresser or end tables. Alternatively, take a muted lamp and add a contrasting shade – something unexpected and dimensional!
When it comes to fashion, the 1970s has long been one of the most vilified decades. Think shudder-worthy butterfly collars, bell bottoms, and platform shoes. However, there is one revived fashion trend from the ‘70s that I absolutely love—embroidered denim. From denim jackets and shirts, to blue jeans, to denim skirts, embroidered embellishments have been everywhere for the past few seasons and are still going strong this spring.
That’s why out of all our fabulous new spring looks, our Embroidered Jeans are my pick for the one fashion trend every woman should own right now. A good pair of jeans are an essential part of every American woman’s wardrobe, and our Embroidered Jeans are timeless, versatile, and completely age appropriate.
A pop of colorful floral embroidery on one leg elevates these elastic-waist jeans and makes them come to life. Crafted from 7.5 oz. denim with a touch of spandex, they stretch with you while keeping their shape wash after wash. They have front and back pockets for essentials like tissues (a must if you have spring allergies like I do). I also adore the classic straight leg, which you can wear rolled up or down, and will look great with your favorite sneakers, sandals, or flats. Available in White or Stonewash, these jeans will go with everything in your closet.
Not into embroidered denim? Not to worry, here at National, it’s all about the details this spring, so whether you are looking for chain stitching, pintucking, eyelet trim, a criss-cross neckline, or bell sleeves, we have something that’s sure to fit your personal style.
What’s your favorite look this spring? Share it with us!
What a special week it has been! This year, Lynda and Michael went from one grandchild to THREE! You read that right – our family home was filled with three littles under three years of age – and goodness was it special!
We hope your holiday season brought laughter, joy, and renewed hope in the many blessings of this life. Do you have fun filled memories to share? Write to me in the comment section below, and share your favorite parts of Christmas with me.
Make sure to tune in Monday and read up on The One Word. I can’t wait to jump into 2018 with you!
Cheers to the New Year,
Last week, someone asked if I was “ready for Christmas.” I wasn’t sure how to answer. Was I aware it was rapidly approaching? Yes. Had I finished all my shopping? Almost (one more left!) Were things wrapped and ready to go? Absolutely not. I answered as honestly as I could – gifts were purchased, but I wasn’t mentally present to the reality of Christmas.
This entire year feels like a blur. In early Spring, we moved from our beloved home in Charleston, SC to Wilmington, NC. 6 weeks after moving into our home, we welcomed our first child. In the middle of those things, we continued working/seeing family/attending weddings/everything in between. Christmas feels like it just happened, and no – I don’t feel ready to celebrate it again. I stopped to consider why that may be, and I realized I had placed unnecessary pressure and frivolous meaning on the season.
Our fireplace is not perfectly decorated. Our Christmas cards will likely arrive just after the 25th. We haven’t captured that perfect photo of our daughter with Santa. And we never got around to hosting the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” we say we’ll do each year. I don’t feel ready, because I haven’t made it down the “perfect parent checklist,” and as a new mom – I wanted to.
A friend came by recently to snap a couple photos of Hatton for her 6 month birthday. This one image stopped me immediately – my daughter, staring at the sky in wonder, curiosity and amazement. Her gaze captures everything I love about raising a child – innocence, possibility and hope, all wrapped up in one tiny being. She is incredibly able to be in the moment…
This season, I am choosing to stay present and celebrate the True meaning of this amazing time by holding onto that childlike wonder. May each of us pause, take a breath, and reflect on the magic of a tiny babe who came to Earth, pure in love and abounding in hope, for such a time as this.
Happy Christmas season, friends!
Photo courtesy of Meagan Forbes Photography
Throughout my time at National, I’ve recounted quite a few “behind the scenes” moments with you. But today, I’m giving you a sneak peek into the most treasured tradition we share as a family: our annual National Christmas Party.
As long as I can remember, we’ve closed our doors for a few hours on a weekday afternoon to gather together as one massive family and celebrate the joys, challenges, and blessings of the year. It is a time to acknowledge the hard work of each team and remember the True Reason for the Christmas season.
At our Christmas celebration, we honor the community service of our employees and share what National has contributed to in Lexington and beyond. We also share the gifts we’ve received by creating a “mini Christmas” for the Salvation Army’s “Angel Tree.” In that special time together, we manage to eat (a lot of) really good food, enjoy photos of the celebrations we’ve had throughout the year, honor employees for their service, and of course – my grandmother’s favorite part – Bingo!
We are so grateful to you, our National customers, who serve as an extension of our family here in Lexington. Because of you, we have the honor of elevating our community and celebrating goodness together – as a family. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
Lynda honoring one of our fantastic employees, Karen, and her thirty years of creativity and inspiration as a part of our Advertising team
Lynda and National’s CFO, Carol, celebrating at the National Christmas Party.
We just love November! Our President, Lynda Swann, and her husband Michael share a birthday just four days apart. What a joy to celebrate these two. Happy Birthday to this dynamic duo – may this year be full of joy and memories….with three grandchildren by your side!
Please join us in wishing Michael and Lynda a happy birthday by commenting below! We will collect your kind thoughts and send them to the happy couple as they celebrate together this weekend.