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.

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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Preparing for the Chill | Cold Weather Travel

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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!

 

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Asheville, NC

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.

 

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Highlands, NC

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.

 

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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.

And if you are preparing for travel, indulge in new gloves, a hat, and layering pieces for the changing climate!

Where are you traveling this season? Share with me in the comment section below!

Happy trails,

Parker


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Football Season: Carolina Traditions

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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!

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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!)

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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.

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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?

 

Go Heels!


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Sweet Tooth | Recipes with Carolina Honey

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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.

Beeeee sweet,

Parker

Spinach Salad with Honey Dressing and Honeyed Pecans

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Roasted Peanut Soup with Honey Whip Cream

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Honey Roasted Carrots 

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Honey-Glazed Black Pepper Roast Beef

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Grilled Plums with Ricotta and Honey

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Fall Flowers | Inspired Fashion

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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!

Love,

Parker

Nighttime comfort, inspired by fall.

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Daytime looks in bright color ways.

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Florals in accessories.

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Fall in North Carolina

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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.

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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)!

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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!

Happy trails,
Parker


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Cooking for Fall | Southern Vegetable Preparation

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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.

Happy cooking,

Parker

Pan-Roasted Corn and Okra

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Collards and Bacon

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Tomato Pie

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Cheesy Squash Casserole

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Inspiration from the National Team | Fall in Love with Nature

Colors

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.

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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.

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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,

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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