Can you hear the crickets chirping? That’s because it’s been so quiet around these parts. In all honesty, I’ve not felt like writing much. Oh, I’ve been writing — but in my journal. I’ve also been on vacation — a much needed reprieve which gave me time to rebalance myself. If you want to see some of my vacation photos, head over to my Instagram page. Hey, I could have you sitting through slide shows.

I’m sitting at home and there’s so much I want to write about, but I am still keeping it in my journal. I’d love to write publicly about what’s going on in Missouri, Egypt, Israel, etc., but that’s not what this spot is for. I like for you to think of this, my home on the internet, as a place you come to visit — a good hostess never discusses politics when you’re at her home.

I really feel what I’m doing here today is part self-justification — trying to explain to you why I’ve not been writing. When I don’t really need to explain — but maybe I do. You see, I’ve started doing interviews for my book and realize how much I suck at them. Interviewing is definitely a learned process and one that will take time. In the meantime, I’ll be listening to a lot more NPR as part of my self-education during this process.

One thing I did learn in the interviewing process — if you phrase a sentence the wrong way, you’ll make people bristle. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Other times it is not.

Now to do a 180 degree turn, we’re still waiting on the building permits. Turns out the lady that issues them has been out of work and there was no one to process them. Talk about coming home from vacation and instantly finding stress. I know this whole process takes time, but I was hoping to come home and find the lot graded and possibly the foundation poured. (I really sound like a first world problem right now.)

I’m also going to be sharing part of my vacation and getting back to my “What I’ve Learned” series of posts. I might also whip up some fall food recipes for you to enjoy. You just never know — after all, many great cooks have told me “it’s just a pinch of this and a pinch of that.”

Charlotte Premium Outlets — Discount, High End Fashion in My Backyard

Kate Spade at Charlotte Premium Outlets

Tonight I headed over to the Charlotte Premium Outlets for a tweet-up with some of the very fashionable in the Charlotte community. We were able to catch up, have a quick glass of wine and then tour the outlets with the marketing director. There are a few things I know about me: 1) I’m a reasonable woman, 2) I’m frugal, 3) These outlets could create problems with numbers one and two.

The Charlotte Premium Outlets (CPO from here on out) will house 100 upscale outlet stores. All I can say to this is “Hello Kate Spade NY Outlet that’s finally within driving distance, OMG, LET ME BUY ALL THE THINGS!” If you don’t know me personally, then you have no idea I own a collection of Kate Spade handbags and accoutrements which I’ve collected over the years. (I tend to buy the classics in the regular boutiques and more trendy, discounted items at the outlet.)

Kate Spade at Charlotte Premium Outlets

There is also a wide variety to suit everyone, including apparel, footwear, fashion accessories, leather goods, home furnishings (some of us have previously mentioned we’re building a house — luckily for me and CPO, my husband rarely reads this blog and will not know the plans I have, nor the visits I shall be making) and specialty brands.

Coastal Court

After touring this evening, I can say CPO is the nicest outlet mall I’ve ever been too — and I’ve visited quite a few in my day friends. Designed to reflect the history of Charlotte and its namesake, Queen Charlotte, the balcony overlooking the main courtyard, heavy banister railing, and the towers in the end cap spaces are all modern twists on key features during her lifetime. Even the lighting resembles the late 1700′s with yellow lights in the wall sconces featured throughout the property.
Sass at the Kate Spade Outlet!
Unlike other outlet malls, there’s plenty of covered walking space for you to worry about not getting wet when it rains. And if it does start raining, pop into the Market Hall for casual dining options and sit in comfort until the weather has let up. If you’re not into shopping, there are plenty of seats sitting outside for you to relax — all of which are soft seating lounge chairs and sofas. I tested one out and it was so comfortable, I could have napped quite easily.

Harry's Chicken Salad -- Oh So Good!

CPO is also family friendly, with six family restrooms and three nursing stations. While I only shop in fits and starts, I’m happy knowing 900 new jobs were created for the Charlotte area with the opening of CPO. Sure, traffic is going to be a little sketchy on 485 while we all adjust to the added influx of cars, but I’m pretty sure it will even out soon. But that’s okay, I know a super secret back way to get in avoiding all the traffic — if you ask nicely I might give you directions.

Stay in touch with Charlotte Premium Outlets:

Twitter:      @CharPremOutlets



The Home Design Process

As previously written about, we’re building a house. It’s affordable and not far from where we live now, with the added bonus of being in the center of two great high schools for the kid. Yesterday, I went to the design center for our builder to select how I wanted things as part of the home design process.

My brain is still fried.

In three hours, I pored over more hardwood floors, tile, cabinets, crown moulding, and accoutrements than I thought humanly possible. I had a good idea of what I wanted already, but when you’re totally immersed and focused, you have to keep your brain from acting like Ricochet Rabbit and bouncing all over the place.

Imagine your brain yelling things like “Shaker,” “Beadboard,” “Java Stain,” “Hardwoods, “Cohesiveness,” “Light Fixtures,” “Brushed Satin Nickel,” “More Windows,” and “Wet Bar” over and over and over.

Thank goodness my best friend went with me. While I would have loved for my husband to be there, he started a new job this week and that wasn’t in the cards. I took my camera and took photos of all of my selections to show him last night and thankfully, he thought I was spot on.

Everything will flow from room to room. I chose not to make every room different with colors in cabinetry, sink tops, etc., even though it’s very “in” right now.  That’s just too much for me. I like order and continuity.

What will it look like? Well, clean and airy. At least that’s what I’m going for. A blend of contemporary meets mid-century modern meets industrial. Don’t even try and guess. It will confuse you. I will say though, my mother has seen some of my ideas/selections and loves it — and her tastes in decor, while not mine, is immaculate. Check one for pleasing the every-picky Southern Mama.

So, if you see me and you’ve built a house before, offer me a pat on the back, maybe a kind “there, there.” If I burst into tears due to your kindness, you’ve done nothing wrong. Subway tile backsplashes make a gal emotional.

Monday Morning Reboot

I woke up early today — 4:50 a.m. is not only early when you were still awake reading at 12:33 a.m., but it’s a little annoying. Peanut was just waking up as well. Both of us went back to bed, with the kid finally waking up at 5:30 and me at 6:15. Why am I sharing these details? Friends, I like to sleep. My circadian rhythm has never been normal — I’m a night owl who’s always desperately wanted to be an early bird. But on this Monday morning, just a few hours ago, I was partially awake and instead of going back to sleep for 3-4 hours, decided to start my day.

Yes, I’m still a little tired, but that’s part of my body adjusting and the fact I didn’t get an adequate nights sleep. I’ve not been sleeping well, period. So many people say “sleep is overrated,” but I’ll be quite honest with you, those folks have no idea what they’re talking about. Sleep is essential for so many things — I could get into all of the details here, but I’ll spare you. Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about sleep somewhere on this site before and told you all about how you need sleep, blah, blah, blah.

Waking up early gave me the opportunity to shake things up a bit. I showered, wrote my morning pages, (which I’ve been slacking on) and meditated. I’ll be quite honest with you, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. Normally, I’m fighting waking up right about now (during the summer) and would still not be a happy camper. It’s the problem of all night owls who are up until 2 or 3 a.m.

I’ve still not eaten breakfast, which is bad for my metabolism. I’m also only making coffee in my Keurig this morning, instead of my regular coffee maker, or French Press. I’m hoping the less caffeine I have will encourage me to head to bed earlier this evening. How does the Keurig help? I’m too cheap to use more than a few pods in one day.

Will this reboot on my Monday work? I’m not sure. It won’t hurt to find out.

Garden and Gun: Made in the South Awards

Garden and Gun's fifth annual Made in the South Awards

There are a few magazines I chomp at the bits waiting for and Garden and Gun is at the top of my list. I savor every edition, filling my soul with all things Southern. I look to them for advice, new stores, places to visit, stories of Southern life, and, let’s face it, what I consider to be some of the best writing in print. Which is why I’m sharing Garden & Gun’s fifth annual Made in the South Awards.

”The Made in the South Awards continue to be a wonderful way to shine a spotlight on the talented artisans and entrepreneurs throughout the South. It’s been extremely gratifying to watch some of our past winners launch onto the national stage, and as we enter our fifth year, I’m delighted to offer a $10,000 prize for the overall winner. It’s a great addition to the attention the print coverage brings these brands,” says David DiBenedetto, vice president and editor in chief, Garden & Gun.

If you’re a Southern artisan or business, and you’ve not entered, the entry process ends August 1st at midnight. This years grand prizewinner will receive a $10,000 cash prize in addition to a prominent feature in the magazine’s December 2014/January 2015 issue. The Made in the South Awards were created by Garden & Gun to celebrate and encourage Southern craftsmen making products in one of five categories: Food, Drink, Style & Design, Outdoors, and Home.

Who should enter:

Any Southern artisan or business with a product in one of Garden and Gun’s five categories Food, Drink, Style & Design, Outdoors, Home whose product will be available for sale through January 2015 may apply.

How to enter:

For entry forms, category descriptions, and rules, visit First-round judging will be based solely on photos and product descriptions. Do not send product. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on August 1, 2014. Winners will be announced in the December 2014/January 2015 issue, which hits newsstands November 25, 2014.

To follow the conversation on the awards, use #madeinthesouth on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as on

Garden and Gun’s 2014 Made in the South Awards judges:

Chris Hastings (Birmingham, AL), owner and executive chef, Hot & Hot Fish Club, as well as a James Beard Award winner (Food)

Brooks Reitz (Charleston, SC), founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. and owner of Leon’s Oyster Shop (Drink) — If you’ve never tried Brooks Small Batch Tonic or Grenadine, you have no idea what you’re missing out on

Natalie Chanin (Florence, AL), founder of Alabama Chanin, a design company with a strong commitment to using sustainable practices and local production in fashion, and winner of the 2013 CFDA/Lexis Eco-Fashion Challenge Award (Style & Design)

T. Edward Nickens (Raleigh, NC), expert sportsman and author of The Total Outdoorsman Manual, and a frequent Garden & Gun contributor (Outdoors)

Celerie Kemble (Palm Beach, FL/New York, NY), renowned international interior designer, partner in Kemble Interiors, and author of Black and White (and a Bit in Between) (Home)

The SCAD Connection

In addition to boosting the grand prize, Garden & Gun has partnered with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), a leading art and design university headquartered in Savannah, Georgia. SCAD will host the first-ever Made in the South Awards Gala, to be held on the SCAD campus in November 2014.

“Partnering with Garden & Gun on the Made in the South Awards is such a natural fit for SCAD. It’s the latest chapter in a great friendship between a trend-setting magazine and an art-making university. Like Garden & Gun, SCAD is dedicated to creating opportunities for designers and entrepreneurs to elevate their visibility and showcase their work,” says Paula Wallace, SCAD president and cofounder.

About Garden and Gun and SCAD:

Garden & Gun is an award-winning national lifestyle magazine that covers the best of the South, including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas. Reaching a national audience of more than 1.25 million passionate and engaged readers, the magazine has won numerous awards for its journalism, design, and overall excellence. Visit

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees at distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers degrees in more than 40 majors.

This post wasn’t sponsored. I just really love Garden and Gun magazine. 

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