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.

Wednesday Recipe Series-North Carolina’s Fresh Catch

Wednesday Recipe Series

Next up in our Wednesday series, a healthy play on a favorite dish. We’re pretty fortunate in Wilmington to have access to fresh caught local seafood on a daily basis. Every Monday, Hatton and I make our way to Mott’s Channel Seafood to survey our options. Typically, we snag a couple of tuna steaks and a big piece of hognose snapper – if available. But, one of our favorite splurges? A full pound of beautiful, locally caught shrimp.

Motts Channel Seafood

Motts Channel Seafood Display of Goodness

We’ve prepared shrimp in a number of different ways: sautéed in ghee with a splash of garlic, boiled in beer (yes it’s a thing), or simply pan fried with sesame oil and some crushed red pepper. But, when I’m craving a full asian twist on this oceanic delight, I turn to garlic, coconut aminos and a heaping dose of bok chop.

Below is the recipe we’re tackling today. What is your favorite preparation of shrimp?

Shrimp with Bok Choy Stir- Fry


Bon appétit,


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Layered into the Fall

It’s August. How is that real? 2019 feels like it’s moving at lightning speed. I’m still not fully recovered from seeing my baby girl turn TWO. Yet here we are, a light drizzle falling outside my office window and the hope of cooler temperatures ahead.

The Carolinas experience seasonal shifts with a sort of whiplash inducing rapidity. Last week, we had a few mornings in the low 60s before moving right back into 90 degree afternoons by the weekend. As such, my closet maintains a steady array of sleeveless tanks and light jackets. Just in time for the transition to fall, our product development team has designed a few new styles and, of course, new color ways of traditional favorites. Below are my three mainstays – ideal for this particular season. Do you prefer a button up jacket or breezy cardigan? Share your must have in the comment section below.

Ribbed Fly Away Cardigan

Stretch Twill Jacket

Ruffle Knit Jacket


Here’s to cooler days,


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National gets Jiggy with Jim Quick & Coastline-Alive After Five

The Alive After Five Concert Series is held right here in Lexington, North Carolina. It offers free-to-the-public, summer concerts and much more. Folks came out from all over the area, to enjoy good music, good food, and refreshing drinks. It’s the perfect summer activity for family and friends to gather at the Breeden Amphitheater.

(image courtesy of Alive After Five Facebook®)

On July 12, 2019, National was honored to sponsor the live music for this event. The infamous, Jim Quick & Coastline jammed out as usual. It was a wonderful opportunity for National, especially because we are super fans. Boy, we had the best time seeing old friends, making new friends, and dancing the evening away!

Our CFO, Carol Snow gearing up for a great time

Skip and Bobby from our Maintenance Team

Jordan Powell (l to r), Print Design Specialist, Skip, Bobby, and me

Creative Marketing Director, Belinda Thomas; CFO, Carol Snow; President and Owner, Lynda Smith Swann

Lynda meeting and greeting

Apparel Technical Designer, Tashia Jones and daughters, Natalia and Haleina

We also hosted a $500.00 Getaway  Clothing Spree Drawing. Two individuals would be the fortunate ones to each win a $250.00 gift certificate to shop with National. Many filled out the entry forms for a chance to win.

Advertising Manager, Karen Benfield (red tee) and Jordan assisting the contestants

We drew two names and were very excited to announce that Ms. Glenda Everhart and Ms. Sandy Fritts were both winners. The very next week, Glenda and Sandy came to our office to retrieve their gift certificates. We were tickled to learn these gals not only shared the winnings, they are neighbors and cousins.

Congratulations Glenda Everhart and Sandy Fritts

Karen giving these lovely ladies their gift certificates

The pair told us they were on the phone with one other when the winners were announced. Sandy tells Glenda she’s won the gift certificate, and Glenda right away replies to Sandy [in a slightly higher octave], “Well, I don’t know how you could be the winner, because I just won!” We were all in stitches. They happily share the winner’s circle. 😊

 Included in the AAF event, we had beautiful models who flowed through the crowds wearing our beautiful caftans. They were truly all the buzz. “Where can I get one of those?” many asked. Summer is the perfect time for cool dresses, lounging, and enjoying family fun with National. So, ladies, stay connected for the best in fun, comfort and style.

Models (l to r) Katelynn Pureza; Addie McBryde; Darlinda Belton; Liselotte Stratman


The Models hanging out with Ronelle


Darlinda chatting it up with onlookers at the event

We had the best time, thank you Alive After Five, we’ll see you next year!

Happy summer vibes,











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Southernly Seared and Grilled Goodness

Once the sun sets in beautiful Wilmington, the cool(er) night air draws us outside for some summer fun. As such, we’ve prepared at least half of our week’s dinners on the grill! In celebration of a rain-free forecast this week, I am sharing a few of my favorite summer veggie recipes, many of which can happen right on the grill.

Super Simple Grilled Summer Veggies

Grilled Garlic and Black Pepper Shrimp

Spicy Pork Skewers

Charred Broccoli w/ Blue Cheese Dressing and Spiced Crispies



What are a few of your favorite outside dinner creations? Share a link of your go-to recipes in the comment section below.


Happy grilling,



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Starting Now for Later

Here in Wilmington, our last “frost date” was March 28th – just last week. Tis the season to start planting, my friends.

The biggest (and ok – possibly most obvious) takeaway I learned in last year’s planting season: start those seeds indoors. We had much greater success with the vegetables we start indoors and transferred to our outdoor raised beds.

So what will we be planting this year? We are considered a “zone 8a” in Wilmington, so in looking more into best suited options (and my favorite cooking companions), I have selected a few favorites to enjoy later this year: Brussel sprouts, cucumbers and squash.

Do you need to find your planting calendar and recommended foods? Click here to learn more. What will you be planting this year?

Happy gardening,


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National is under SNOW!

Growing up just a couple hours from the mountains, I used to pray for snow in the winter. Of course, largely due to the fact I wanted a day off from school, I also loved the incredible sledding hills surrounding our neighborhood. The last time we received enough snow for a full week off, I was in elementary school. Well friends, for the first time in National’s history, snow has kept everyone indoors. And that big snow is here!

The end result of our snowy forecast even surprised meteorologists. We received the most snow our town has seen in decades! While we are not accustomed to this much snow, the town sure made use of the fresh powder. Here are a few senes from around Lexington this weekend. Did you have a wintry weekend in your hometown? Share your favorite moments with me in the comment section below.

Stay safe,


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Garlands and Wreaths | Inspiration for the Holidays


Photo Courtesy of Country Living


I grew up with a mother gifted in the art of DIY and decorating. To this day, she can take a roll of string, a lump of pine needles, a vase and some lights and create a breathtaking centerpiece. Neither my sister nor I dare complete our tree without her expertise.

This year, I want to include my daughter in the fun of Holiday decor. As such, I have started researching some options that are somewhat child friendly and – let’s be honest – easy for mama to complete! Hatton enjoys coloring, playing with paper and all-things-bright. Below are a few garland options I’ve selected. (We’re leaning towards the candy cane garland)! Click on the image you love most, and find a detailed how-to guide.

Do you enjoy making holiday decorations from scratch? How do you craft decorations that can last through the holidays season? Share your tips and tricks with me in the comment section below!

Happy crafting,




Photo Courtesy of Tell Love and Party


Photo Courtesy of Made Everyday

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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,


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