Beach Bag Favorites!

beach bag

It’s July 4th weekend and the people of North Carolina are flocking like seagulls to the coast! My beach bag stays at the ready and inside I always have my go-to favorites. Below is a sneak peek of what you can find in my bag on any given day. Tell me, what’s in yours?

  1. Sun hat: A wide brimmed monogrammed sun hat is on any Southern girl’s list. We have to be able to read our books and unsuspiciously check out the eye candy on the beach. Plus, it cuts down on the sun reaching our face and forgoes those future age spots, sun spots and wrinkles.
  2. Good book: I’ve been a fan of Emily Giffin’s work since her first novel, Something Borrowed. Giffin has the skillful tact of creating characters you can identify with and scenarios to which you can relate. I’ve read each of her novels and I must say her latest, First Comes Love, is one of my favorites. The tale of two thirty-something sisters, this novel digs deep into the depths of love, self-worth and the ability to make one’s own happiness.
  3. Sunscreen: Avoiding sun damage is a must! Coppertone has joined my family in the sun for decades. In fact, it’s the only sunscreen I’ll use. Lightweight, oil free and dermatologist recommended, it protects my skin every time. Whatever sunscreen you choose to use, make sure it finds a place in your beach bag!
  4. Sunglasses: A Southern staple, Raybans find a way to tag along with me everywhere I go. Sleek and sophisticated, they coordinate well with those sun hats and swimsuits.
  5. Hydration: It’s hot out there! Water is a sidekick, but I love to add a little flavor. Crystal Light’s Raspberry Green Tea is my current obsession. Sprinkle a packet in your water bottle, shake and drink up!
  6. Snacks: All that ocean swimming works up an appetite. Kashi Chewy Granola bars are a healthy snacking option I adore. Dark Mocha Almond is a tasty delight to keep me full till dinnertime.
  7. Nana’s Necklace: Who says you can’t have some pizzazz by the pool? My beloved Nana always wore this giant shell necklace during summertime soirees. A true statement piece and conversation starter, I’ve carried on her tradition of wearing this shell out and about. Find something that brings you joy, adds some sparkle to your attire, and saunter out for summertime fun!

What’s in your bag? I want to hear your go-to items and recommendations!

Meet the 80th Miss North Carolina!


Sparkles, evening gowns, poise, public speaking, community service spotlights and more. Everyone loves watching the competition for the crown. In North Carolina, we’re celebrating 80 years of the Miss North Carolina organization with the naming of Victoria Huggins as Miss North Carolina 2017!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria about her journey to the crown for the North State Journal. Click the link to read below to read the story and see the amazing behind-the-scenes photographs (like the one above) captured by Madeline Gray.

Best wishes to Victoria as she begins an incredible year representing this great state!


Sip, sip and Cheers!

Cheers to hump day! You’re halfway through the week so grab yourself a cold one and toast to the official start of summer.

Hands down, the 1980s and 1990s were full of teen idols, big hair and classic American television shows. One such cult classic is the comedy, Cheers, which ran from 1982-1993 bringing you bar laughs from many notable faces including Ted Danson and Rhea Pearlman.

Of course, you likely know the show was based off a popular bar in Boston of the same name. When in Boston, do as the locals and tourists do, and swing by Cheers on Beacon Hill for photos by the iconic façade, pub grub that’s good, plenty of pints and nostalgia.

Points to note: The actual pub is small than the one of television. It’s quaint and cozy. Enjoy the memorabilia on the walls, chatting with old and new friends, then head upstairs to browse memorabilia and visit the replica bar resembling that of the shows.

Taste test: Ask the bartender for a recommendation of a beer to try. Go out of your comfort zone and pick one you haven’t tasted before. The wheat beer made in Vermont slides down easily!

Cheers, friends!

Good Eats. Sweet Treats. Donuts.

Good eats. Sweet Treats. We all needs those daily as a little reward for ourselves. So today, grab yourself a donut and toast the doughy goodness.

Truth be told, I’ve was never a doughnut fan until a random stop in New Hampshire left me the opportunity to try a one-of-a-kind treat from Cider Bellies Doughnuts.

Important point to note: Every morsel of a Cider Bellies donut is scrumptious!

An adorable food truck at the Meredith Station in New Hampshire is where you can find this goodness and it’s so worth the visit.

Made fresh, not processed and a far cry from traditional doughnut shops. These are apple cider donuts and I had one of each fabulous flavor – cinnamon sugar, maple glazed (which has maple sugar drizzled on top), and plain. Hot, soft and fresh.

They are only available in New Hampshire locations which makes me completely jealous. We need these in every state. If you’re in New Hampshire, check out their Facebook page to pop in one of their stops and check out their new flavors – strawberry with toasted coconut, sweet potato and cappuccino.

Kudos Cider Bellies and thanks for the delicious donut!



Welcome to Beyond the Crepe Myrtles!

I’m Laura Ashley, the writer and imaginer crafting the content you’ve graciously stopped by to read. First off, thanks for coming by and joining me in exploring the vast world we are all a part of.

Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, I’ve delved into life between crepe myrtle and magnolia trees, beside fields covered in tobacco, and around the quaintness of small towns. Here, mom-and-pop restaurants flourish, manners are part of the course, adventures are plentiful, and at the heart of everything are the people.

A journalist by trade, I always flourish in the discovering of the who, what, when, where, why and how. A traveler by choice, I’m grateful to have trotted the globe to experience the history and culture of this amazing Earth.

This blog dives into a little bit of everything or as we say down South, “it’s a mess of somethin’.”

Lifestyle, decorating, history, travel, facts, opinions, excerpts that couldn’t fit in the print pages and more – – you’ll find it all here.

I carry a pen and notepad everywhere I go. I have no qualms about asking questions and learning more. After all, inspiration is anywhere you choose to look. Creativity dwells inside of us and this is a wonderful avenue for sharing and learning from others.

I hope you’ll come along on the journey and experience life beyond the crepe myrtles. Tell me what you think, want to read about or just say “hello” and introduce yourself!