Which books are you must grabs for the summer reading list? What are the five best ways to style a scarf? Where are my spots for pimento cheese in the South? Find my favorite quick tips at Easy Pickins!

Shopping for the Grandbabies

Last week, I received a phone call from my mother.

“What does my grand baby need for Christmas?”

‘Tis the season to plan family gatherings and begin Christmas shopping. And this year – we’ve added a couple to the mix! My sister is expecting her second babe any day now, and our daughter will be 6 months old next week. In just one year, my parents have gone from one tiny grand baby to three! With each child in a very different season, I have developed a go-to list of favorite things for our little ones!

Newborns – This is the season of so many diapers, 5,249 bottles, and – let’s face it – minimal sleep. Gifts we love include date nights, gift certificates to Honest.com (our favorite site for all things baby), and teething toys! Some of Hatton’s favorite toys include the winkle and her Skip Hop stroller buddy. And the contraption that has afforded me showers, the ability to cook dinner, and eat with two hands: the Baby Bjorn bouncer.

Infants – This stage is such fun. We’ve seen an explosion of development from Hatton. She is reaching for toys, engaging with anything that makes noise, and rolling all around the floor (she is never still!) Stackable toys make fantastic learning gifts and easily grow with your little babe. Another hit around this house is our Skip Hop activity table, which transitions to an arts and crafts table down the road!

Toddlers – babies on the move! My niece is in constant motion. At 20 months old, she loves to frequent kids museums and outdoor parks, or try her hand at sports in the driveway. Consider purchasing a membership to a local kids museum or a few music classes from Kindermusik, if one is local to your family. Opt for zoo passes or a day at the aquarium. Your grandchild is sure to recount all he or she learned on such a memorable day!

While all of these trinkets are fun (and helpful to parents spending money on loads of diapers and wipes!), the greatest gift we can receive is quality time with our families. As we do every year, we will celebrate Thanksgiving in Blowing Rock and introduce our daughter to holiday traditions with her grandparents. Between the Blowing Rock Christmas parade and choosing her first tree, the photos we will capture of moments with her grandparents will forever remain our most treasured gift.

How do you spend the holidays with family? Do you have traditions with your grandchildren? Share your favorites in the comment section below!

Happy Fall,


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Prepping for Cold Season

Photo Credit – GoodBelly.com

The irony of today’s blog…I decided I would cover this topic a few weeks ago upon seeing numerous reminders to “wash your hands” and “flu shots available.”  And guess what? I’m coming to you today from behind a box of kleenex, a mug of honey and lemon, and a load of garlic. Cold season found me, so I want to help you either avoid cold season altogether or shorten the span of the symptoms! Below are some of my go-tos. Click on the links for a bit more information on each!

At the first sign of sniffles, ramp up your intake of Vitamin C and D. Get into the sun and sip on some orange juice for easy sources of the good stuff.

Put a drop or two of peppermint and eucalyptus in your shower and keep the temperature warm enough to generate a bit of steam. Spend an extra 5 minutes in the shower – it’s worth it!

At night, consider sleeping with a humidifier – especially in dryer climates or when you’ve started to run heat through your home.

Rely on the Neti Pot! While a bit uncomfortable, sinus rinsing is incredibly effective and supports faster healing times (in my experience!)

Add garlic to your diet. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and supports overall immune health. Coupled with ginger, lemon and honey tea – you’re sure to feel some relief from these powerful natural tools.

What are your remedies for solving colds? Share any and all with in the comment section below – because I’m sure this will not be my last one!

Stay well,

Note that all advice comes from personal experience and has not been evaluated by a medical professional. So – take with a grain of salt (and a glass of orange juice!)

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Cooking and the Inner Project Manager

Photo Credit: SixtyandMe.com

After completing graduate school, I accepted a position as a project manager for a large retailer. While my previous experience in marketing certainly pulled from my creative side, it was project management that furthered my development in organization, time management, and leadership. I realized I needed more opportunities to grow my abilities in management, because – by nature – I am a big picture, creative thinker.

I received this article from Sixty and Me in my inbox recently, and every part of it resonated with me! I relish time in the kitchen – I have space to both exercise creativity and also follow clear instructions to get to a (hopefully) positive end result.

Do you consider yourself analytical and methodical or whimsical? How do you find room for both in your life? Share insights with me in the comment section below!



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4 Picks for Homemade Halloween Treats

Halloween. Without a doubt, it’s a top three favorite holiday in the Swann and Wilson home! My husband started pulling the decorations from our attic the last week of September. On Sunday, October 1st – all of our decorations were complete!

As our first Halloween with our daughter approaches, I’ve started scouring the internet for kid friendly treat inspiration. While she’s too small to enjoy chocolate candies and lollipops just yet, I want to make sure I’m fully stocked for all the kids on our street (and there are MANY!)

Click on the images below to view the recipes I will be trying out this year. What are some of your favorite Halloween preparations? Share your traditions with me in the comment section below!

Halloween Cake Balls


Ghost Pizza Bagels


Jack-o-Lantern Quesadillas


Black Cat Cookies

Happy baking,


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5 Stunning Ways to Decorate Your Mantel This Fall

Last Friday, we celebrated the first day of fall. And boy, it could not come fast enough for me. I love the crisp fall air and the warm fall colors. I love the hustle and bustle as the local agriculture fair sets up for another year here in our small town. Above all of this though, I love the fall decorations.

I’m always looking for new spots around my home to add a sprig of fall leaves or another pumpkin themed item but it’s nice to have a focal point that ties all of the décor together. And that’s where the mantel plays such an important role.

Here are a few of my favorite fall mantel designs from CountryLiving:

Country Chic


Chalkboard Centered


Pop of Green


Orange Accents


Mood Lighting

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5 Healthy Snack Ideas

I am a big fan of snacking. And evidently I am not alone. According to the USDA, 90% of adults snack between meals. Snacking often has a negative connotation because of what we normally think of as “snack food,” low-nutrient, high-calorie processed food like chips, candy and cookies. Of course, there is a right way and a wrong way to snack. Snacking on the right kind of healthy food can actually help you keep weight off. The trick to snacking smart is to plan nutrient-rich snacks, whether you’re at home or the office. Think of snacks not as treats, but as mini-meals.

According to nutritionist Keri Glassman in the article “Snack Your Way to Better Health” in Family Circle, in order to snack smart and prevent overeating, it’s important to make sure you are really hungry and not eating due to emotions. Be sure to note the time when you feel hungry between meals. You’ll likely notice that you get hungry at the same time every day. Glassman also recommends always having something to drink, like a glass of water or a cup of tea, with your snack and to plate your food, rather than eating out of a bag or box. She also suggests that you choose snacks wisely for the greatest nutritional benefit. For example, try combining fruits and nuts, which is good for brain health as an antioxidant and inflammation-fighting one-two punch.

Here are a few of my favorite healthy snack ideas from Cooking Light.

Hummus with Carrot: Hummus is made from chickpeas, a great source of soluble fiber

Edamame: Folate-rich foods like edamame may help to even out your mood.

Bagel with Peanut Butter: If you crave carbs, be sure to pick quality carbs like whole grains with fiber.

Yogurt with Fruit: Eating a snack with protein can help curb hunger, so you consume less daily calories.

Popcorn: It has a lot of bulk for its calories so it helps fill you up. 3 ½ cups counts as one serving of the 3 recommended daily servings of whole grains.

Have a favorite healthy snack? Share it with us! 



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Summer Fruits & Vegetables: 7 Recipes to Try Right Now

If you are like me, as hard as you try, you probably don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables. However, it’s a lot easier to get your 5-7 servings a day in the late summer when there is an abundance of fresh produce in season, like corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, blueberries, blackberries, okra, squash, zucchini, and peaches. When it’s too hot outside for a heavy meal, there’s nothing that tastes like summer more than a light and healthy meal of fresh corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes with cold watermelon for desert. Whether you grow your food yourself or buy your produce from the farmer’s market or grocer, August is the perfect time try out new recipes using seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Here a 7 easy recipes from Southern Living using fruits and vegetables that are in season right now.

Grilled Peach Cobbler

Smashed Fried Okra

Blueberry-Cornmeal Cake

Avocado Pico

Shaved Cucumber Salad with Pickled Blackberries

Stuffed Tomatoes with Pesto Rice

Zucchini-Squash Corn Casserole

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5 Easy Summer Recipes

Take the stress and mess out of cooking

Everyone seems to be concerned with healthy eating these days. And for a good reason! With so many hidden ingredients in our foods, it’s hard to know for certain what we are putting into our bodies.

Thankfully, the warmer seasons offer us an abundance of produce options that make fresh eating a whole lot easier. And if you’re lucky like me you might just have a few farmer friends to help keep you well-stocked in veggies like zucchini and tomatoes!

These five recipes show just how easy it is to eat deliciously healthy! There’s no need to scour over labels, plus these meals can be made in just about 15 minutes active cooking time, giving you plenty of time to get outside, enjoy the beautiful weather and create wonderful summer memories with friends and family.

Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs

Oven Backed Zucchini Chips

Honey Dijon Chicken and Veggies Foil Packs

Salsa Fresca


Stir Fry Teriyaki Shrimp with Zucchini Noodle


What are your summer recipes or dishes? Do you have a go-to dish that is always popular with family and friends? Which of these recipes are looking forward to trying? Please share your thoughts – and recipes – in the comments!

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5 Stimulating Summer Reads

Stellar Picks for Your Next Book Club Gathering

There are plenty of reasons to get-together with your gal pals this summer, but I’m always open to another excuse for laughter and fun. Whether you’re already a member of a regular book club or you have an unofficial group of girlfriends with whom you share reading recommendations, chances are there are a number of women in your life with which you read and talk about books.

Sometimes reading a good book is the best way to get good insights and perspectives on the emotional, personal, financial, and spiritual journey that women are embarking on past the age of 60. While doing a little summer-reads research of my own, I came across an article on the Sixty and Me website, a great lifestyle blog centered on building a dream life after sixty. Margaret Manning, the blog’s author, has compiled a list of authors who share fun and enriching words to inspire women.

Photo Credit: Sixty and Me

Here are a few of my favorite recommendations from Sixty and Me’s list of Ten Inspirational Books for Women Over 60:

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

The author sets out on a yearlong project to deliberately try to be happier, by having more fun, feeling more organized, and taking a methodical approach to being more content. This book shows you how it’s done.

Smart Women Don’t Retire – They Break Free, by Gail Rentsch

This book discusses one of the most important career transitions a woman can make—the move from full-time work to something new and different, whether that means “retirement” in the traditional sense, or part-time work, or volunteer work, or self-employment and creative pursuits, or some combination of all of the above. This book offers good ideas and insights on how to make your new life work for you after your career of full-time work has ended.

Yoga for Age 60+, by Meena Vad

One of the most popular fitness activities for women over 60 is yoga. It not only exercises the body, but also focuses the mind and renews the spirit. This book offers tips and guidance for how to practice yoga safely in your own home. Grab a friend and learn the art of yoga together for added fun. For more info about getting started with yoga, check out our blog on finding the right style of yoga for you.

Fifty is the New Fifty, by Suzanne Levine

Fifty is the New Fifty, by Suzanne Levine offers concise, humorous lessons about realities of what life at this age is really all about, and encouragement to women to invent the life that they want for themselves – while confronting change, renegotiating their relationships, and discovering who they are now that they are finally grown up.

Suddenly Sixty, by Judith Viorst

Suddenly Sixty is a funny and touching book that speaks directly to the sixty-ish woman, inviting her to laugh about, sigh over, and come to hopeful terms with the complex issues of this decade of life.

A report by UK researchers has shown that joining a book club may even help you live longer. That’s advice I would like to believe! Live longer by reading books and sharing your thoughts with others. I can buy into that!

Do you currently belong to a book club or have you been a part of one in the past? Did you enjoy your experience? What were some of your favorite books that you read while being a member? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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5 Decorating Ideas for your Front Porch

On a long summer day, there’s nothing better (or more Southern) than kicking back on your front porch and watching the sunset with a tall glass of iced

tea. During warmer weather, I like to entertain my friends and family outdoors. I also like to just relax outside in the shade with a good book. If you are looking for an easy way to maximize your outdoor living space, I recommend decorating your front porch. When I was looking for ideas on how to make my front porch more livable and inviting, I went to the Good Housekeeping website (one of my favorite magazines) for inspiration.

Here a few of my favorite decorating ideas from the Good Housekeeping slideshow, 15 Front Porch Ideas Perfect for a Lazy Summer Day, all of which are simple and inexpensive to implement:

Photo Credit: Max Kim-Bee

I Photo Credit: Max Kim-Bee

  1. Add sheer white curtains and a few pillows for a shady retreat from the heat. I also love the soft aqua blue paint on the porch ceiling! (If you’re thinking about painting your porch, check out my blog post on Picking Paint.)

    Photo Credit: Jessie Walker/Corbis

    II Photo Credit: Jessie Walker/Corbis

  2. Take the living room outside with homey touches like rocking chairs, pillows, quilts, and rugs that you already have on hand. The child-size table and chairs are an adorable addition if you have kids or grandkids.

    III Photo Credit: Max Kim-Bee

    III Photo Credit: Max Kim-Bee

  3. Make your front porch a mini mudroom with a designated space where you can leave your wet, muddy boots or shoes when you come in from gardening, A cute bench is the perfect place to sit down while taking off your rain boots or gardening clogs.

    IV Photo Credit: Getty

    IV Photo Credit: Getty

  4. If your porch is big enough, transplant your patio furniture from the backyard to the front of the house for a great outdoor dining spot. I especially like the informal feel of the mismatched dining chairs.

    V Photo Credit: Getty

    V Photo Credit: Getty

  5. Hanging a few well-placed flower baskets is an affordable way to add a splash of color to your front porch and make it feel more welcoming. You can’t go wrong with baskets of red geraniums.
  6. Your front porch is usually the first impression that visitors have of your home’s decor, so decorating it shouldn’t just be an afterthought. Your front porch or entryway should reflect your personal style. If you are trying to sell your house, a front porch makeover is an easy way to boost your home’s curb appeal. What’s your porch look like? Share it with us and enjoy that glass of sweet tea.

    Check out these links for more porch decorating ideas:

    11 Ways to Decorate Your Front Porch or Entryway gallery on the DIY Network website

    Decorating section of the Front Porch Ideas and More blog for seasonal decorating ideas

    How to Decorate a Small Front Porch on Worthing Court, a design blog with a Southern farmhouse aestheti

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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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