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.

Providing Comfort—

Two weeks ago, National pitched in to help address the need for clothing essentials after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma devastated areas of Texas and Florida, respectively. From socks to bras, panties to dresses, we donated thousands of items to The Salvation Army for distribution to those who needed them most.

According to Lt. Meade of The Salvation Army, people often grab what they can, such as pictures and keepsakes, but leave with only the clothes they have on.

Today, we have been told by Lt. Meade that the majority of our donation will go to the over 7,500 Puerto Ricans displaced to Florida after Hurricane Maria devastated the island and left so many without homes.

We are happy that we have been able to help in these efforts and thank you for your contribution. As needs like this arise, we hope to always share our good fortune with those who need our products most. Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers.

Members of National help to load a Salvation Army truck with much needed goods.

National team excited to help.


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Sightseeing Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Mountains scenic view from the parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway Photo Credit: National Park Service

When the temperature soars, I love to escape to the cooler air of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a kid, I enjoyed hiking and horseback riding in the mountains, but with age, I have grown to appreciate more sedate activities like sightseeing, dining and shopping.

Along with beautiful state parks, quaint mountain towns, and charming B&Bs, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer a wide array of arts and crafts, historic sites, festivals, museums, restaurants, and wineries. There is something for everyone, no matter what your age, and many of the sightseeing attractions are wheelchair accessible.

Aerial view of the Lower Falls at Linville Gorge.

Linville Gorge: Photo Credit Romantic Asheville

Whether you go for a break from the summer heat, to see the waterfalls at full force in spring, or to see the trees change in fall, the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway provides stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains. Connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in NC and the Shenandoah National Park in VA, the 469-mile roadway has over 200 overlooks where you can pull over and stop your car or RV to take in the breath-taking views.

If you want to visit the parkway, I suggest planning your itinerary or scenic drive ahead of time. The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville, NC, is a good place to start. It’s located at mile post 384.

Asheville is also home to the Southern Highland Guild’s Folk Art Center of traditional and contemporary Southern Appalachian crafts. Along with temporary exhibits, there is a permanent exhibit of 250 works, including woodcarving, textiles, furniture, basketry, pottery, and dolls from 1855 to the late 20th century. Allanstand Craft Shop is the oldest continuously operating craft shop in the U.S.

Photo Credit: The Biltmore Estate

No visit to Asheville is complete without seeing Biltmore Estate. Built in 1888 as a summer retreat by George Washington Vanderbilt, the 250-room French Renaissance-style mansion, situated on 8,000 acres, is the largest privately owned house in the U.S. Take a self-guided tour of the 60-plus restored rooms, stroll through the many gardens, or enjoy a wine tasting at the Antler Hill Village & Winery.

Perfect for the grandkids, the Western North Carolina Nature Center is more than a zoo. Voted “best place to take kids,” it is a living museum of native plants and animals. See all kinds of mountain wildlife, including snakes, otters, raccoons, goats, sheep, wolves, foxes, cougars, bears, hawks, and owls.

Located on 3,600 acres in Boone/Blowing Rock, NC, the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park was the summer country estate of the “Denim King,” Moses Cone, and his wife, Bertha. Take a tour of the 23-room Colonial Revival mansion built in the mid-1890s, fish for bass and trout in one of the lakes, or watch artisans give live demonstrations of mountain handicrafts. There are also 25 miles of carriage roads and an apple orchard.

The Cherokee Indian Reservation is home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Anyone who is interested in Native American culture and history should visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Be transported back in time to a living, working 18th-centurty Cherokee village at the Oconaluftee Indian Village.

Take time to enjoy the stunning views at Chimney Rock State Park, named #3 for scenic views in a national poll by Southern Living magazine. It’s home to Hickory Nut Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.

If you need to relax, visit Hot Springs, NC, and enjoy a soak in the naturally heated mineral waters. Located on Spring Creek and the French Broad River, Hot Springs Resort & Spa offers modern Jacuzzi-style hot tubs that are situated outdoors so you can take in the mountain views, as well as licensed and certified massage therapists.

What’s your favorite mountain travel destination?


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North Carolina Coastal Getaway: Wilmington

Today is the first day of summer! It’s time to head out on some fun summertime getaways. Still looking for a place to go or things to do? Visit one of North Carolina’s most beautiful coastal towns—Wilmington. In this North Carolina Coastal Getaway spotlight, you will find our list of suggested attractions and activities for your vacation in this vibrant riverfront city.

With both village charm and a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the Wilmington Historic River District and nearby island beaches offer a variety of dining and shopping options for anyone to enjoy. Downtown, stop at a quaint café, take a garden stroll, tour local film sites or board Battleship North Carolina. Three island beaches offer even more dining, attractions, and sight-seeing opportunities. Cast a line off the Atlantic’s oldest fishing pier at Kure Beach, learn to sail at Wrightsville Beach, or explore one of Food & Wine magazine’s top 10 boardwalks at Carolina Beach.

Here’s our list of can’t-miss-activities for visiting the old port town of Wilmington:

Step back in time while taking a tour of one of the most decorated battleships of World War II.


Image from VistNC.

Prepare to be charmed when you explore the Wilmington historic district by open-air trolley, horse-drawn carriage, or Segway.


Image from VisitNC.

You can also take a scenic cruise aboard a sailboat or riverboat. There’s much to appreciate from the river to the sea.


Image from Wilmington Tourism Authority.

Check out the North Carolina Aquarium to catch a glimpse of a variety of sea life, with everything from stingrays to baby sea turtles and eels to sharks. This attraction was recently named a top 20 aquarium in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.


Image from North Carolina Aquarium website.

Take a tour of the site of the largest land-sea battle of the Civil War at Fort Fisher.


Image from NC Historic Sites.

Enjoy dinner over the water while you observe breathtaking views at the Oceanic restaurant in Wrightsville Beach.


Image from VisitNC.

 

I hope you enjoyed my list of fun things to see and do in the Wilmington area. Now get out there and explore! Then report back to us with where your travels have taken you. We can’t wait to hear all about your own adventures. Share them with us in the comment section below.


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Vegetable Recipes for the Season

Summer is (almost) here! It’s time to harvest yummy vegetables and serve up delicious food all season long. From tomatoes and squash to beets and greens, I’m sharing a few fun uses for those veggies in your back yard. Simply click on the image for the recipe, and share your favorites in the comment section below.

Happy cooking,

Parker


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Garden Preparations for Spring

My husband and I recently moved and have not had time to plant a thing. At first, I was rather dismayed. I, like many others, assumed it was too late to get started with my garden. However, after researching my options, I learned that the warmth of spring prepares the soil to become an idyllic setting for planting seeds to harvest in late summer. With May around the corner, most regions of the US can stop worrying about impending or unexpected frost and get the most out of the upcoming harvest.

Here is a brief list of some of my favorite fruits and vegetables for a late summer harvest. What are your favorite items to plant and how do you prepare your garden? Share your tips with me in the comment section below.

Happy gardening,
Parker

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Summer squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes

 

 


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New Year, New Treats!

Hello friends! Welcome to my kitchen. Yes – you’re sitting in the middle of my favorite part of our home….our sweet, beachy kitchen with the best stovetop I could dream of (Jenn-Air, I love you!) I’m thrilled to invite you into my home today and share even more New Year’s recipes.

Last week, we talked one pot easy cooking for the year ahead. Today, I’m veering into the land of sweets once more…because no big, bold southern dinner is complete without a scrumptious dessert.

A beautiful parfait makes for an elegant table, while a baked cobbler remains a North Carolina (and Wilson family) staple. Between crisp fruits of upcoming seasons and lingering flavors of winter, these treats will have your mouth watering and table plentiful all season long.

Click on the images below for the full recipe, and share your favorite treats in the comment section below!

With love and sugar,

Parker


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Winter Crisps: Sweet Treats for the Season

peppermint

This week, my calendar is full of Christmas gatherings around town. On Thursday, we’re off to see the Christmas lights in a nearby town – famous for an extravagant and festive annual display. Friday night, it’s a neighborhood gathering at one house with a follow up party across the street the next night. In between? Girls’ brunch with a dear friend – and loads of holiday treats I am sure!

In preparation for these gatherings, I’m building up my repertoire of sweet treats and trying my hand at a couple new recipes! Click on the images (both above and below) to see what I’ll be making this week. Do you have any tried and true recipes to share? Please comment below with the full recipe. You’ll definitely help me impress “one and all” in my Christmas galavants this week!

Happy baking,
Parker

candy-star

snowman-2

holly-christmas-cookies

 


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Warm Sips for Winter

hc

This week, the Carolinas have seen cloudy mornings and rainy afternoons – and the damp chill of winter has settled in for the months ahead. While strolling through our neighborhood recently, I turned to my husband and said “This is the best time for hot chocolate.”

I find comfort in mixing up a warm beverage and plopping down on our cozy couch, backlit by the twinkle of our Christmas tree. To top it off, I love the aromas of a warm beverage coming from my crock pot. Below are a few recipes to enjoy this season. Simply click on the image for the recipe! (And enjoy the mint tea hot or iced – just in case you’re a California Christmas kind of person!)

What are your favorite recipes for this season? Share them with me in the comment section below – and Happy Christmas!

Warmly,
Parker

 

apple-cider

mint-tea

orange-rememdy


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Thanksgiving Tradition

I’m writing to you this morning from the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. It is here, for another beautiful year together, that we’re sharing Thanksgiving in Blowing Rock. In just a few hours, my sister, brother in law and niece will arrive – and the celebration can truly begin!

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I love spending the holidays in the mountains. Something about the crisp air and towering trees throw me immediately into the holiday spirit.  During our weekend in the mountains, we share several traditions – both old and new. Traditions from our childhood include buttermilk biscuits, coconut cake, tree decorating and endless board games. Some of our newer traditions? My personal favorite: choosing and cutting our own tree – directly from the rolling hills of the mountains! We share matching pajamas, late night laughs, and memories past of family we love. And at the end of the week, we walk together in the Blowing Rock Christmas parade!

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This year, I am most excited to celebrate with the newest member of our family – Bailey Swann Hodgson. At 9 months old, she is brimming with personality and joy. We cannot wait to create new memories with this sweet babe.

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What are some of your holiday traditions? Share them with me in the comment section below. Enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and friends!

 

With love,

Parker


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parker

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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