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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
What are some of your holiday traditions? Share them with me in the comment section below. Enjoy a beautiful Thanksgiving with family and friends!
Snowy Saturdays are around the corner, and I’m thrilled to explore some of my favorite winter spots in today’s blog.
When Thomas and I lived in Vancouver, BC, we spent many weekends in Whistler. The stunning mountain town was a short one hour drive from the city, so we took many opportunities to get away from the bustling streets and find solace in the towering mountains.
Now that we are back in the Carolinas, I am sharing a few of my favorite winter weather spots for your weekend getaways!
Asheville is a beautiful mountain town brimming with delicious food, stunning art galleries, and fantastic sites to visit. Between the candlelight tour at the Biltmore Estate and a food tour downtown, you will enjoy every minute of your weekend in Asheville.
The Highlands sit west of North Carolina, just north of the Georgia border. This town is a seeming refuge amidst the tree tops and a beautiful spot for fall leaf watching and wintertime exploration. Consider a stay at the Old Edwards Inn for a true mountain experience.
Blowing Rock, NC
Of course, our absolute favorite refuge is Blowing Rock. I’ve shared what I love about Blowing Rock many times before, but the list keeps growing. With the renovation of the Green Park Inn, new restaurants budding up on Sunset Blvd., and our favorite – the Spice Shop on Main Street – Blowing Rock affords activities and sites for all ages.
Where are you traveling this season? Share with me in the comment section below!
When I think of fall, I can immediately sense the cool breeze of a Saturday afternoon and hear the distant melody of the marching band. Yes, it’s football season in the Carolinas, and Smith Swann family tradition is in full effect.
You see, UNC has always been a cornerstone of tradition in our home. Between day trips to watch a basketball game with my grandparents and Saturday adventures to Kenan Stadium for some football, my favorite childhood memories came from our time in Chapel Hill. Recently, my sweet 8-month old niece attended her first game (start them young!) As you can see from her photo, she enjoys Tar Heel game days and dresses up accordingly!
As we escaped the wrath of Hurricane Matthew a couple weeks ago, I had the joy of experiencing another beautiful day in Chapel Hill. My sister graciously surprised us with tickets to a UNC football game, and it was the perfect distraction to the unsettling week leading up to Saturday. It was the perfect retreat from the storm, because Chapel Hill is our home away from home – both for me and my husband (who also grew up attending every game!)
We begin our time together at least four hours prior to the game, and make certain to have full tummies (with a little room for concessions of course) before heading in for kickoff. A typical Saturday spread includes a breakfast of biscuits, country ham, and fruit alongside plenty of sweet treats. Alternatively, for late afternoon games, we rely on good ol’ fashioned barbecue, fried chicken, potato salad and chips – super healthy of course! We’ve been known to wear coordinating jerseys and t-shirts, but more often than not we’re simply decked out in as much baby blue as possible. But what matters most? We’re together.
Today, it’s a joy to bring friends to the place that brought us such delight as children. We love celebrating our Carolina Tar Heels, but moreover – we’re grateful to honor a childhood tradition and connect as family. What are some of your fall traditions?
Travel + Leisure has scoured the United States to find America’s best cities for fall travel! Click here to read more and scroll the slideshow highlighting stunning moments of fall.
Where are you planning to vacation this season? Share your secret spots with me in the comment section below.
Photo Credit: Asheville Bee Charmer
I’m simply too embarrassed to show you a peek into our pantry. See…we have this shelf. It’s designated to house one item only: honey. To date, we have 6 very big jars of seasonal honey, harvested by hand in the North Carolina mountains. We have 2 jars of South Carolina honey, made right down the road. We have 2 jars of Sourwood honey from a road side stand in Blowing Rock, NC. And finally, we have 1 jar of hand pressed honey from a hive in Garner, NC.
All in all – we’ve got a lot of honey, y’all! Today, I’m sharing a few ways to use that honey and satisfy your sweetooth. Click on the images below to sample these delicious recipes. Try them all, and you’ll enjoy a full meal of honey! Share your favorite honey uses with us in the comment section below.
Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans
Roasted Peanut Soup with Honey Whip Cream
Honey Roasted Carrots
Honey-Glazed Black Pepper Roast Beef
Grilled Plums with Ricotta and Honey
Photo courtesy of “Better Homes and Gardens”
My husband and I spent the weekend in the North Carolina mountains, and already I can feel fall in the air and spot its colors along the Parkway. My father-in-law had one focus for our Friday afternoon: fill the deck with fall flowers!
We took a trip into town and scoured the local nursery for fall’s best selections. Deep red mums, bright purple petunias, and golden pansies – I found myself captivated by the available selection (and difficult to narrow it down to only a few!) We settled on an assortment of jewel tones and fall varietals in our final purchase.
At National, we take inspiration from the most vibrant parts of the season. Today, I’m sharing available prints and color ways inspired by shades of fall flowers. Simply click on the image to find out more product details!
How do you best showcase fall from your closet? Share your tips with me in the comment section below. Cheers to a bright new season!
Nighttime comfort, inspired by fall.
Daytime looks in bright color ways.
Florals in accessories.
Photo Credit: Fearrington House
On Wednesday, I shared my go to spots to see the changing of seasons in North Carolina. If you’re looking for a retreat in our fine state, consider one of these beautiful hotels – courtesy of VisitNC.com!
Where are you off to this weekend? Share your adventures with me in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: ExploreBoone.com
Fall in North Carolina brings vibrant shades of red and orange to the North Carolina mountains and crisp blues along the Carolina shore. The colors of fall inspire artists nationwide and draw tourists from around the world to experience the wonder of changing seasons. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite places to experience the fall and see its rich colorways. (So, if you’re looking for a long weekend trip in October, take notes!)
As you’ve read here time and time before, the North Carolina mountains hold a special place in my heart. Consider a weekend in Blowing Rock and plan day jaunts to surrounding towns like West Jefferson (famous for cheeeese!) and Little Switzerland (beautiful views and gem mining!) If you prefer fantastic food and rows upon rows of art galleries, steer towards Asheville instead and make sure to book a tour at the Biltmore Estate.
Photo Credit: Dave Carlson
For a more relaxed weekend getaway, select from one of North Carolina’s many coastal towns. Step back in time and visit Beaufort, NC – a quaint fishing village near the Outer Banks. Rent a flat bottom boat for a quick ride to Shackelford Banks, and enjoy a picnic among the tall marsh reeds and wild horses. If you’d prefer a broader tour of the area, spend the weekend in Hatteras and take a 30 minute ferry to Ocracoke. (Wild horses live there, too)!
Photo Credit: Dianna of “These Days of Mine”
Wherever the road takes you this fall, pack light and take pictures. Enjoy the moments of a new season and find your refresh in the change! Where do you enjoy the change of seasons? Share your favorite places with me in the comment section below!
I have many favorite memories from childhood – but one stands out among the rest. My grandfather adored his garden. He spent many a Saturday morning teaching me how to tend to various types of crops. While I cannot say I have his talent, I sure do cling to the memories we shared in that special place.
His green thumb seemed perfect – always aware of tricks and methods to grow the tallest roses, harvest the biggest tomatoes, and pick the best bunch of figs ever. I remember kneeling in the garden and painting fingernail polish on parts of the rose stems eaten by bugs and learning when to pick tomatoes at the right time. In honor of his love for gardening, I’m sharing a few recipes from southern classics. Around here, our go-to vegetables include okra, tomatoes (ok, arguably a fruit….but let’s go with it), corn, green beans, collards, and squash. Click on the images below for the full recipe!
What’s your favorite vegetable dish? Share the recipe in the comment section below.
Pan-Roasted Corn and Okra
Collards and Bacon
Cheesy Squash Casserole