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.

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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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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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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