EASY PICKINS

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!

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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BBQ Side Dishes with Flair

By now summer barbecuing is in full swing. Being from Lexington, my family and I never miss an opportunity to barbecue something—be it chicken, turkey, or the favorite that the town is known for, pork. The July 4th holiday was no exception. We fired up the charcoal grill for BBQ chicken halves. See the picture below (warning: your mouth may start to water and that’s okay!).

While we always have some version of barbecued meat, I’m always looking for new ways to complement the ‘cue via interesting side dishes. I came across these mouth-watering recipes from Southern Living and wanted to share them with you. These dishes transform traditional staples into savory sides with a twist. Try them out and let me know what you think!

Big Daddy’s Grilled Blue Cheese-and-Bacon Potato Salad

Crispy Andouille Hush Puppies

Creamed Corn

Barbecue Deviled Eggs

PS – Check out this cute picture from July 4th of the ladies in the family dressed in stars and stripes!


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Celebrating Flag Day

Today is Flag Day! It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress.

On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14. Many Americans observe Flag Day by displaying the Red, White and Blue in front of homes and businesses.

Fireworks, BBQs, and parades… all just some of the ways we love to celebrate America! One of my favorite ways to celebrate any holiday is with a delicious treat. Just in time for Flag Day, here is a recipe for what I’m calling “Flag Day Pie”. This recipe from Land O’Lakes explains how you can create a delightful patriotic pie.

How do you plan to celebrate Flag Day?


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5 Must-Have Nautical Accessories

Fashion trends come and go, but the nautical look is a timeless classic that never goes out of style. Inspired by sailors and the sea, nautical-themed accessories always look chic and elegant. Motifs like stripes, anchors, sailboats, ship wheels, and starfish evoke the magic of the beach and ocean, making nautical accessories the perfect complement to your summer wardrobe.

Nautical Accessories

Here are my five picks for the summer’s “must-have” nautical accessories:

1: Nautical Charm Necklace Set by Viola®

This necklace and earring set features delightful charms of an anchor, life preserver and ship’s wheel, accented with enameling, beads and crystals. Done in crisp navy and white, the necklace and earrings can be worn together as a set or separately. Try wearing the necklace with a t-shirt to dress up a casual ensemble or pairing the earrings with a fresh cotton blouse.

2: Nautical Clip-On Earrings by Renshun Accessories

These tasteful earrings are done in a classic button style and feature an anchor design embellished with enameling and crystals for a hint of sparkle. Comfortable and lightweight, these clip-on earrings are available in navy/goldtone or white/silvertone. Wear with a blouse, like our popular Donnkenny® camp shirt, or a striped dress, like our UltraSofts® Mia Sailor Dress, for a polished look.

3: Sail Away Nautical Charm Bracelet by Good Feelings™

Enameled beads in all-American red, white and blue are combined with silvertone charms of a ship’s wheel, starfish, compass, anchor and sailboat in this whimsical adjustable bracelet. Whether you wear it with shorts and a tee or a breezy lounge dress, it’s the perfect finishing touch to any summer outfit.

4: Reversible Breezy Hat by Sun ‘N’ Sand®

Hats are vital to protecting your skin from sun damage (See Wednesday’s blog post “Sun-Safety Picks”). For skin-safe fun in the sun, this all-cotton reversible hat is a terrific option. A solid color on one side, it reverses to a charming mini anchor print on the other side. It even rolls up for easy packing. Just toss it in your tote or beach bag and take it with you wherever you go.

5: Windham Seasonal Slip-Ons by Grasshoppers®

Ideal for a stroll on the boardwalk, these comfy slip-ons have classic “boat shoe” styling and feature a canvas upper with nautical-inspired stripes. With a memory-foam footbed, padded collar and tongue, and removable Ortholite® sockliner, these casual shoes provide all-day comfort and support. From jeans and pants, to shorts and pedal pushers, to skirts and dresses, you can wear these Grasshoppers® with everything.

 

 


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Sun-Safety Picks

Summer is all about fun. Fun at the beach. Fun on the boardwalk. Fun having an outdoor afternoon with friends. In essence, it is about fun in the sun!  With all of that extra time spent outside, you need to be aware of the extra sun exposure you are getting and take steps to protect your skin during this season.

Sunglasses with hat

The first line of defense in protecting your skin should always be wearing sunscreen. Sun damage builds up over time. It is important to use sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation; however, you can also lessen your sun exposure by choosing sun-smart clothing and accessories.

Here are our top three picks for protecting your skin from summer sun:

  • Wear shades. To best protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, always wear good quality sunglasses when you are outdoors.

Our pick: Simply Noelle Fashion Sunglasses with Case

  • Wear a hat. A wide brim hat (not a baseball cap) is ideal because it protects the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. Dermatologists report that for every inch of hat brim you wear regularly, you’re reducing your risk of cancer by 10 percent. So a hat with a four-inch brim, worn regularly, could slash your skin cancer risk by 40 percent, according to skin cancer experts.

Our pick: Akira Ribbon with Raffia Trim Hat

  • Cover up. Wear tightly-woven clothing that blocks out light. Try this test: Place your hand between a single layer of the clothing and a light source. If you can see your hand through the fabric, the garment offers little protection.

Our pick: UltraSofts ¾ Sleeve Boatneck Tee

Finally, to best protect your skin from sun damage, remember that these precautions work best when used together to maximize skin protection. Don’t go out in the middle of the day (an excuse for a siesta!) and use cover-ups like elegant wide-brimmed hats, thick shades, long-sleeve shirts, and stylish caftans. By modeling best practices in sun protection for yourself, you’ll also influence your family, helping to ensure they maintain healthy, non-sun damaged skin for life too.

Simply Noelle Sunglasses with Case  UltraSofts 3/4 Sleeve Boatneck Tee in Bright Turqoise


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Vegetable Recipes for the Season

Summer is (almost) here! It’s time to harvest yummy vegetables and serve up delicious food all season long. From tomatoes and squash to beets and greens, I’m sharing a few fun uses for those veggies in your back yard. Simply click on the image for the recipe, and share your favorites in the comment section below.

Happy cooking,

Parker


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Picking Paint | Switching Up your Home Decor

The quickest and most impactful way to change a room? Paint! My husband and I recently moved into our new home where we will welcome baby girl Wilson. Our home was painted beaituflly before we moved in shades of light grey and white (100% my style!)

While I love muted color palettes, sometimes a room needs a bit of bright. I opt for icy shades of mint and blue to complement the rest of our home. My two recent favorite finds include Neon Mint and Cool Elegance – both Valspar colors and easy to match at Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore!

I am also strangely in love with various shades of cream and white. Below are a few options to bring a calming and cheerful look to your home. (Just click on the image to go directly to the paint color).

Picking a paint can certainly pose its challenges. I recommend purchasing a small piece of sheetrock, available at any hardware store, and painting two coats onto the board to best test out the color. Make sure you glance at the walls a few times during the day, as light will change its overall appearance. In addition, remember that – once painted on every wall – it will likely become bolder in color as it reflects off of each corner and space in the room.

What are your favorite home colors? You never know when I’ll be up for a change – so share your go-tos with me in the comment section below.

Happy painting,

Parker


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Easy Picnic Tips for Spring

Across the street from our new home is a beautiful open field that serves as the perfect setting for a spring picnic. Our new baby girl is only a few weeks away from her debut, and I am already dreaming about mid morning, sun-soaked dates with my daughter (with plenty of shade, of course!)

So, let’s start with a few essentials to make certain your afternoon is idyllic: a large quilt (the thicker the better!), hard plastic cups and serving utensils, a roll of paper towels (just in case), bug spray and sunscreen!

Next, and in my opinion…the most important…food! Here are a few quick and easy snacks to pull together for a picnic. (Click on the images to get the full recipe!

What are your favorite items for a picnic? What can’t you go without on a beautiful sunny day? Share your ideas with me in the comment section below.

To the sunny days ahead,
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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