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.
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
We’ve shared a few product trends with you in the last week, and today…we’re getting into the best details of all. We are talking color and sharing what you can expect in this year’s fall product!
First – a little sneak peek into the life of a National merchandiser! In the fall of 2015, our creative team began reviewing customer feedback on previous designs, researching product trends and developing color way inspiration boards. The product you receive from ShopNational is the culmination of a year of diligent work and attention to detail – because your opinion matters!
This year, we’re sharing a spoiler alert and highlighting a few of our favorite colors inspired by fall in the Carolinas. Around here, we’re known for bold color changes in the western mountains and crisp sunsets along the Carolina coast. This year, our palette pulls from the very essence of fall in North Carolina.
From the warmth of fall leaves to the deep jewel tones of the night sky, this year’s closet selections include colors like mallard, indigo, marigold and maroon.
Drawing from the cool breeze of the august wind, our designers have created several products in pale shades of apricot and mist. Look forward to soft boucle sweaters in these cooler shades of the season.
What excites you about this new season? We can’t wait to see what you think of our favorite new colors in fabrics and silhouettes we know you already love. Share your top picks in the comment section below!
With love and color,
Morning, noon and night – I crave sweets! While I’m not a fan of summer heat, I adore the bountiful harvest that comes to satisfy my sweet tooth. I rely on my simple staples including strawberries and homemade whipped cream, bananas with a drizzle of honey, and hazelnut butter crepes. But when summer parties get started, I’m on the lookout for beautiful desserts that celebrate summer and bring color to a simple table scape.
While I like to “sample” recipes before trying them out on the masses, I’m willing to take a risk on these incredible finds below. From no-bake pies to fool-proof cobbler, click on the images to see the recipes in full. (And please share your best recipes with me in the comment section below! Maybe you’ll see yours posted on Facebook as a #tuesdaytreat!)
Plum Upside Down Cake
No Bake Mini Grasshopper Pies
Southern Peach Cobbler
No Cook Ice Cream
The vibrant colors and varied use makes summer squash an idyllic vegetable for use in many recipes. I recently started a garden to reap the benefits of squash down the road…and I absolutely can’t wait!
Until that first crop is ready, I shop for summer squash at our local farmer’s market and have learned many uses for the different kinds available. Given the bountiful types of summer squash, the vegetable preparation can get stale quickly. I’ve scoured my online resources for diverse squash recipes and am sharing my favorites with you! Simply click on the image for the full recipe.
What are your favorite uses for squash? Do you have any family recipes you’d like to share? Please put them in the comment section below and you just might see them reposted right here! Can’t wait to read more about what you love.