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.

Southernly Seared and Grilled Goodness

Once the sun sets in beautiful Wilmington, the cool(er) night air draws us outside for some summer fun. As such, we’ve prepared at least half of our week’s dinners on the grill! In celebration of a rain-free forecast this week, I am sharing a few of my favorite summer veggie recipes, many of which can happen right on the grill.

Super Simple Grilled Summer Veggies

Grilled Garlic and Black Pepper Shrimp

Spicy Pork Skewers

Charred Broccoli w/ Blue Cheese Dressing and Spiced Crispies

 

 

What are a few of your favorite outside dinner creations? Share a link of your go-to recipes in the comment section below.

 

Happy grilling,

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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National is under SNOW!

Growing up just a couple hours from the mountains, I used to pray for snow in the winter. Of course, largely due to the fact I wanted a day off from school, I also loved the incredible sledding hills surrounding our neighborhood. The last time we received enough snow for a full week off, I was in elementary school. Well friends, for the first time in National’s history, snow has kept everyone indoors. And that big snow is here!

The end result of our snowy forecast even surprised meteorologists. We received the most snow our town has seen in decades! While we are not accustomed to this much snow, the town sure made use of the fresh powder. Here are a few senes from around Lexington this weekend. Did you have a wintry weekend in your hometown? Share your favorite moments with me in the comment section below.

Stay safe,
Parker

 


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Garlands and Wreaths | Inspiration for the Holidays

               

Photo Courtesy of Country Living

 

I grew up with a mother gifted in the art of DIY and decorating. To this day, she can take a roll of string, a lump of pine needles, a vase and some lights and create a breathtaking centerpiece. Neither my sister nor I dare complete our tree without her expertise.

This year, I want to include my daughter in the fun of Holiday decor. As such, I have started researching some options that are somewhat child friendly and – let’s be honest – easy for mama to complete! Hatton enjoys coloring, playing with paper and all-things-bright. Below are a few garland options I’ve selected. (We’re leaning towards the candy cane garland)! Click on the image you love most, and find a detailed how-to guide.

Do you enjoy making holiday decorations from scratch? How do you craft decorations that can last through the holidays season? Share your tips and tricks with me in the comment section below!

Happy crafting,
Parker

 

 

 


Photo Courtesy of Tell Love and Party

 

Photo Courtesy of Made Everyday


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Layered for the Weekend

Our most recent vacation inspired me to spend more time on the road exploring our beautiful state. The joy of North Carolina is its incredible topography, which changes with a short drive down I-40.

Tips on packing light? Choose layers! I often opt for a light tank to wear beneath a long sleeve shirt. (Click here to view my favorite layering tank!) In looking for another layer, I try to find a blended fabric that holds its shape and is flattering in any season. National’s UltraSofts collection blends natural fibers with synthetics, thereby creating clothing with colorfastness and shape. (This piece is a staple in my closet!)

In addition to layering options, I opt for solid colors. A simple color palette minimizes the amount of clothing in my suitcase and allows for multiple outfits out of just a few pieces. My go-to bottoms for a weekend away: Everyday Ponte Pants and Tapered Knit UltraSofts Pants. Both are comfortable and easy to pair with a blouse or tunic.

Last but not least, add some accessories. I am a scarf fanatic and can’t get enough of the beautiful patterns available this season. Select a poncho with beautiful drape (and warmth) or go light with an easy-to-wrap scarf!

What are some of your favorite tips for layering? Share your outfits with me in the comment section below!
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National Cares | UNC Lineberger

October is Cancer Awareness Month – a season near to the hearts of so many members of the National family. Our founder and my grandfather – Eddie Smith – battled cancer in the final years of his life. My sister – Lanier – is a survivor of kidney cancer, one of the most underfunded types of cancer research.

Cancer is growing in its commonality, impacting half of the world’s population at some point in our lives. National believes in the cutting edge research afforded by the UNC Lineberger Center and contributes to its many life saving programs throughout the year. To read more about this incredible organization, click here.

Thanks to your commitment to National, we’re able to continue this great work with UNC Lineberger.  We are grateful for the opportunity to give back to our broader community!


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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,

Parker


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Beach Days Ahead

You can likely guess that as a resident of a North Carolina beach town, I’m a sucker for some comfy clothes in coastal style. A loose blouse and relaxed pants or a breezy top and flowy skirt are my favorite selections for a day on the water. And of course, I can’t forget boating shoes!

Right now, several of my favorite styles are ON SALE! Click the images below to find out more, and find your perfect coastal style!

How do you dress for a breezy spring day on the water? Share your styling tips with me in the comment section below!

Cheers from the coast,

Parker


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A Christmas Meal Inspired by Parker’s Favorite Reads

Every year, I receive a few magazines as a gift from my family. Mixed in with my monthly delivery of Fast Company and Forbes is a smattering of Garden and Gun, Southern Living, and the like. In preparing for dinner with a few friends, I thought it might be a delightful challenge to create a meal pulling recipes from each publication I love! Inspired by the crisp and festive pages of Southern Living, I decided to peruse various sites to find both new and time honored classics to create an idyllic southern holiday gathering.

Click on the images to review the full recipe! What would you include in a perfect evening with friends? Share your festive favorites with me in the comment section below, and let me know what you think of my personal selections!

Toasting you from the Carolinas,

Parker

Starting with a sip…of Grinch Punch!

Moving onto appetizers…a cranberry-cheddar cheeseball.

Adding in greens with a Christmas Salad.

A side of the best Macaroni and Cheese from Raleigh, NC.

Complementing the meal with sweet tea brined ham!

And ending with my grandfather’s favorite…Coconut Cake!

 
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Welcome to the Family | The National Christmas Party

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!

Happy Christmas,

Parker

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.
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