Muddy River Distillery — Handmade in North Carolina

Handmade in North Carolina

Just a few miles from my house is the Muddy River Rum Distillery, located in Belmont, North Carolina. As I was perusing my local ABC store one day, I happened to run across their product the Carolina Rum and got a quick history from the employees there. It was enough to convince me to buy a bottle and ever since, I’ve kept Muddy River Distillery’s Carolina Rum stocked in my liquor cabinet.

Muddy River Distillery launched their first product in September, 2012, seven months after owner Robbie Delaney received all of his licensing from the state, local and federal permits required to distill rum. When they were asked how they make rum, the folks at Muddy River Distillery respond with “By staring at a ‘fancy’ water fountain for 12 hours.”

Using their house built stills, Liberty and Democracy, Muddy River Distillery pumps a custom mash made of premium South Carolina molasses and sugar, along with a special yeast they’ve selected to give their Carolina Silver Rum it’s unique flavor.

Freedom and Democracy at the Muddy River Distillery in Belmont, North Carolina

How do I drink my Muddy River Distillery Carolina Rum? There’s a few ways, actually. I like to sip it neat, mix it into a Manhattan, or a Twelve Mile Limit. What is that last one? I’ve shared the recipe below — just take it easy on them.

Looking for Muddy River Distillery Carolina Rum? You can find it in 300 different stores across North Carolina.

Rum Distillation Process at Muddy River Distillery, Belmont, North Carolina -- Handmade in North Carolina

Carolina Rum Recipes:

For recipes using their small batch Queen Charlotte’s Reserve (always great for gift giving):

Twelve Mile Limit
Prep time
Total time
A forgotten cocktail from the era of Prohibition, the Twelve Mile Limit is one of the booziest cocktails you'll ever drink.
Recipe type: Cocktail
Cuisine: Cocktail
Serves: 1
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • ½ ounce rye whiskey
  • ½ ounce brandy
  • ½ ounce grenadine
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1 lemon
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  1. Add rum, rye, brandy, grenadine, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake until well chilled.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

Looking for more “Handmade in North Carolina?” Head over to Dirt and Noise and see what Ilina is serving up today.

Welcome to Handmade in North Carolina

Handmade in North Carolina

I love North Carolina. I’m native born and bred from Western part of the state, now living in the Piedmont. I’ve traveled all over North Carolina and every time I do, I discover something new. This love of products Handmade in North Carolina, as well as my friendship with Ilina Ewen, means we’re going to be sharing our favorite finds every week that is either indigenous to North Carolina or made by a native North Carolinian.

Ilina will be focusing on the Eastern part of North Carolina over on her blog Dirt and Noise, while I’ll be handling the other half of the state. However if we find things we love and adore while traveling throughout our beloved home, we’ll be sharing those with you as well.

Welcome to Handmade in North Carolina. Where you’ll find the things we love with links to the proprietors (if available) and what we love about what they’re doing. This just isn’t arts and crafts, no, no, no. We’ll be featuring authors, books, historical sites, distilleries, restaurants, farms, recipes, movies, musicians, you name it, we’re going to talk about it.

Why don’t you pull up at a chair and sit a spell. Because we’re going to help you get to know where you’re from.

Handmade in North Carolina

The Mast General Store — Step Back Into History

Come and sit a spell at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC

Located in the small town of Valle Crucis in the North Carolina mountains, the Mast General Store is a little hidden piece of history. I’ve been visiting since I was a little girl. Originally opened in 1883, the store keepers kept everything on hand the community needed, including caskets. As the years have passed, the Mast General Store has not only strived to serve the local community of Valle Crucis, but the many visitors who pass over it’s threshold daily, serving up Southern charm and coffee at 5 cents a cup (paid on the honor system.)

Come and sit a spell on the back porch at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC.

Many don’t realize the integral piece the Mast General Store plays in the Valle Crucis community, and to the rural history of the United States. General stores used to dot the landscape of the US and were the hub where you picked up your mail, caught up on what was going on in town, and sold goods you could easily purchase, often on credit or via the barter system, without a multi-day trip to larger cities. I grew up in a town with a general store that was out of business by the time I was born, but you could still look through the windows and see the caskets waiting on their future owners until just a few years ago.

PotBellied Stove Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC

I was there during a recent trip to Boone, NC, and as it was a chilly, sunny day, popped in to pick up snacks for my road trip and to warm myself by the potbellied stove located in the center of the store. It was nice to sit in the rocking chairs, play a quick game of checkers, and sip on an RC Cola.

Come and sit a spell at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC

During my visit, I pulled out my camera and took the time to shoot a few images of the store, but not too many so as not to get in the way of the number of locals who were there picking up their mail (yes, the Mast General Store still has a working post office.) One of the young ladies who lives in the community, no more than 10 years old, watched me as I shot photos and then showed me her family’s mailbox. She comes in every Friday with her Mom and little sister to get the mail and a maple sugar sucker. It reminded me of a the simpler times of when I was a little girl and I’m pretty sure that’s the appeal the Mast General Store holds for so many.

Mailboxes at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC

Working Post Office, Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC


Mast General Store

While visiting the Mast General Store, you can pick up snacks for the road, preserved and pickled canned goods (I always buy the Okra), shoes, outerwear, cast iron cookware, home decor, skin care, the list goes on and on. It’s still truly a working store that serves the community at large and the thousands of visitors who wander in to experience a time gone by.

Dry Goods at the Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC Dry Goods at the Mast General Store, Valle Crucis, NC

For the history of the Mast General Store, visit their website:

Visiting the Mast General Store? Check out the community calendar of events and activities:

Local Love: The 60th Annual Singing Christmas Tree

Singing Christmas Tree, Charlotte, NC

Just in time for the holiday season, the Carolina Voices MainStage Choir will be presenting the 60th anniversary of The Singing Christmas Tree. One of Charlotte’s grandest holiday traditions, led by Artistic Director Peter Leo, The Singing Christmas Tree will offer a glittering performance of music, song, dance, puppetry, and comedy. NPR’s Mike Collins, will join the cast as emcee this year, taking the audience on a rousing trip through past and present traditions while celebrating the joy of Christmas in the Carolinas.

Singing Christmas Tree, Charlotte, NC

Making the rounds again are some of the audience’s favorite special guests, including The Grey Seal Puppets, Eddie Mabry Dancers, Caroline Keller and more. Guaranteed to lift your holiday spirits – this concert is one to share with family and friends!

This years theme is “traditions.” Audiences can expect to be taken on a rousing trip through past and present holiday customs that reflect the joy of Christmas in the Carolinas. Attendees can look forward to listening to their favorite Christmas carols, such as Joy to the World, Carol of the Bells, Little Drummer Boy, and The First Noel; as well as popular holiday tunes, such as We Ned A Little Christmas, All I Want for Christmas Is You and more. Silent Night will be the closing song, continuing a beloved 60 year tradition.

The Singing Christmas Tree, Charlotte, NC

About The Singing Christmas Tree:

The Singing Christmas Tree was first produced in 1954 by Charlote Choral Society (later renamed Carolina Voices) on the steps of the Harry and Bryant funeral home on Providence Road. With Alice Berman directing, the singers sang outdoors on the steps of the building lined up in the shape of a Christmas tree. The performance was so popular, that the organization moved the production inside to Ovens Auditorium in 1995 and purchased a tree structure for the singers. Today, the 32’ twinkling tree structure holds 90+ volunteer singers of Carolina Voices’ MainStage Choir.

The original metal tree was replaced in 2004 with a more flexible and sturdier version for singers to stand on. Volunteer members from Carolina Voices put up the tree each year, attaching its branches and lights before the performances.  Tom Griesmer, a long-time singer, has been overseeing the tree’s construction for more than 30 years.

The 60th Annual Singing Christmas Tree will be held December 13 and December 14. Check the box office for available times and tickets.

The Singing Christmas Tree for KIDS

Saturday, December 13 at 11am and 3pm at Ovens Auditorium

MainStage Choir
Peter Leo, Artistic Director

Starring The Grey Seal Puppets
Grab a seat on the Polar Express as we get into the spirit of the season at this family-friendly show that includes rousing sing-a-longs, favorite kids holiday tunes, magical puppets, amazing dancers and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus. At just one hour in length, the show is perfect for children age 3 to 10 and offers parents a wonderful way to introduce young children to the arts!

Buy tickets:

Adult Tickets:  $21 – $35

Youth 14 and under: 1/2 price


Phone:  704-372-1000

or at

Phone: 800-745-3000

Contact Carolina Voices 

Phone:  704.374.1564

Calvin Klein and the Plus-Size Model Debate

On Monday the Twitterverse went nuts with the whole Calvin Klein “plus-sized” model debate. Even I had some choice things to say offline. As it was still on my mind when I woke up this morning, I decided it was time to research the matter and delve into the real deal.

We all owe Calvin some apologies.

Let’s talk about the fashion world. Designer outfits are created around a live, in-house skeleton called a “fit-model.” These women are very thin, waif-like, and let’s face it, clothes hang on them as if they were a clothes hanger. Which is what designers want when sending their fashion lines down the runway.

Do I agree with it? No. But it’s how things are done and they’re not going to listen to a fat chick with a serious case of fashion lust.

Model Myla Dalbesio is a size 10. If she were shopping at Target, Old Navy, etc., she’d probably be a size 6 due to sizing discrepancies. She was hired to promote the new range of lingerie with other “normal” sized models. Yes, I said “normal.” It’s in quotes, because we all know my opinion on the human body and that every body is beautiful, no matter what shape, size or color.

I was her size the first time I went on a diet for being “too fat.” I wish I were kidding you. I was also a size 10 at 5’5″ tall, so my height made me look “dumpy,” compared to relatives and friends.

Where did this come from? From Ms. Dalbesio herself. She was recently interviewed by Elle magazine about being in the campaign  “I’m in the middle,” she said. “I’m not skinny enough to be with the skinny girls and I’m not large enough to be with the large girls and I haven’t been able to find my place. This [campaign] was such a great feeling.”

Calvin never said she was a plus-sized addition to this campaign. What he did say in a statement was “these images are intended to communicate that our new line is more inclusive and available in several silhouettes in an extensive range of sizes.”

An extensive size of ranges. Who would have thought  designer would want to offer more sizing options to fulfill a need in the clothing market. It’s unheard of.

What she is is a breath of fresh air. A woman other women can relate to as “the average American woman.” While she’s not someone I personally can relate to physically, Ms. Dalbesio shows arms and thighs with more flesh than you’d normally ever see in a standard campaign being ran by a high profile design house. As someone who’s read Vogue since she was 10, and yes, I know the feelings of Anna Wintour where fat people are concerned, I’ve seen the marked changes in the advertorial pieces over the past 32 years or 384 issues.

For me, it’s a return to the day of the SuperModel — Cindy, Naomi, Linda, Christy, Helena, and Claudia. Yes, they were all still very thin and fit sample sizes, but they weren’t the sylphs of today. Sample sizes have decreased due to the increased demand in smaller and smaller sizes. It’s the literal photoshopping of clothing using scissors and poor judgment, meaning the models have to take drastic measures and eat tissues or cotton balls soaked in orange juice (yes, i’m serious) which prevent them from gaining weight, yet they feel full.

People were even more outraged by the photo of her stance in the photo, as if she were sucking her stomach in and trying to make it concave. But was it Calvin Klein demanding this shot? The photographer? Or was it society?

I’m hedging a lot on society at large. Where a woman with thighs that touch, larger breasts and a tiny belly pooch are considered plus-size.

The real problem is not “size zero”. The real problem is that we live in a neurotic, miserable society with a deeply disturbed attitude to food, nurture and consumption, a society which teaches children, and particularly girls, that their growing bodies and normal desires are unacceptable and must be starved away.*

Would I like to see Calvin place a “plus-sized” model in his campaigns? Yes. I want to see every body shape and size embraced. I want my friends who are petite in height to be represented. I want my “normal friends” represented. I want my very naturally thin friends represented. My athletic friends. While I’m at it, I’d also love to see all fashion houses who produce clothing take all of these body shapes into consideration and actually create items that aren’t just their “normal clothes” sized up or down –which doesn’t work.

I haven’t mentioned Calvin Klein makes a line of plus-sized fashion? It’s not marketed, because, after all, he is the man who introduced us to Kate Moss.



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