It’s National Hot Dog Day!

Hot dogs are a staple of American culture. Ballgames, holidays, backyard parties, you name it, hot dogs are there.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates Americans will eat 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.

With today being a holiday, there are plenty of places offering free or discounted hot dogs. Just check with your local vendor.

In North Carolina, my favorite hot dog spot is the legendary Dick’s Hot Dog Stand in Wilson. Having opened in 1921, it’s a beloved family restaurant that’s stood the test of time with millions having enjoyed.

Take a look at my special story on this local institution as written for the North State Journal. Click the link below and enjoy!


Fixin’ to: Tell ya about summers with the Freezie.

We can recall the days like they were yesterday.

Summer afternoons are stifling with heat and humidity. Sweat is raining down like a hurricane. Running through sprinklers brings laughter and a cool sweet treat is melting at our fingertips.

Those hot summer days, I’d run through my Nana’s white clapboard house to the back porch. The porch had screened in windows, a wood floor and a white freezer that I deemed magical. I’d climb up the step stool, lean over and pick a color. Like every eager child of my generation and the ones before, I was searching for the frozen pop known as the Freezie.

Whether it’s a Southern ritual or a childhood rite of passage, we all had the secret obsession (and still do) with the frozen treat.

Freezies are basically flavored sugar water in a plastic wrapper. When placed in the freezer overnight, it magically ices.

Your dentist might tell you it’s nothing more than a cavity maker. You don’t care. It’s cool, refreshing, sweet and makes you feel like a kid.

It’s so simple and plain yet so appealing.

My summers were spent grabbing for the brand of freezies known as the Chilly Willy. Maybe it was the little boy’s smiling face on the yellow box and clear wrapper that drew me and everyone else I knew to the snack.

Remember him? Here’s what you probably didn’t know: That little freeze pop was named after a cartoon penguin of the same name. Created in 1953, the penguin known as Chilly lived in Alaska and the television show centered around his search for a place to stay warm and his fondness for pancakes.

Sadly, the Chilly Willy brand of freezies are no longer made. But not to worry, plenty of other companies have jumped in to sell their own versions and have done so for decades. Other brands include Fun Pops, Fla-Vor-Ice, Pop-ice, Mr Freeze, and so on.

Regardless of the brand, you know the ritual. Buy. Freeze. Select Color. Crunch on the ice. Drink the melted ice. Throw away the wrapper. Try to find a way to earn another one. Repeat process.

You know the color you select is everything and you most certainly have a preference. Pink. Purple. Red. Green. Yellow. Orange. Blue. All the colors of the rainbow. They all have actual flavors, but all you really pay attention to are the colors.

You know what happens if you are not careful. The wrapper can cut into the side of your mouth. Cue the tears.

It’s time to be a kid again. Find a freezie. Spend time outside. Enjoy the simplicity of it all.



Spectacularly Scruffy: The Guest Room

guest room

Most of us love being a guest. It’s that feeling of being somewhere outside of our normal surroundings. It’s the possibility of being pampered and treating yourself. It’s a chance to get away and relax.

Most of us enjoy allowing guests into our homes. Grandparents, siblings, friends, family. We are glad they are here and we want them to feel welcomed. We just tend to stress at the thought of having company for a weekend. There’s no need to be!

Here’s where scruffy entertaining comes in to play. If you are already prepared, you’ll just open the doors to your home and welcome guests right in.

Please note that it’s okay if your house isn’t spotless. A home should look lived in and reflect the personalities of the people who live there. Your guests are coming to see you and will be thrilled with the free room and board.

A guest room is the ideal place for them to stay. The Guest Room should feel inviting, warm and cozy. Extra pillows on the bed and a lamp on the nightstand equal a space for your guests to feel comfortable.

To make entertaining easy, here are a few tips and tricks my friends and I use when hosting:

  • Already have fresh towels and washcloths in the bedroom or guest bath. Have these set aside just for this room and you won’t have to hunt for them when it’s time for company.
  • Clean sheets. Wash, dry and remake the bed with clean sheets after guests leave and you’ll be ready at a moment’s notice for the next set of visitors. Simplicity is key. Cotton sheets will do and so will a solid color that matches the room. However, if you happen to still have your New Kids on the Block sheets, your guests will adore the throwback. Make staying at your home fun!
  • Easy reading novels, magazines, crossword puzzles, and photographic books neatly stacked on the nightstand or in a basket give your guests something to browse when they are winding down from the day. It’s also the best place to store magazines you’ve already read but aren’t ready to recycle.
  • A closet of surprises. Neatly stacked in the closet have extra blankets for the bed in the event your guest gets cold. Available hangers let your friends know they can hang up their garments just like they would at home. A dear friend of mine has a few clothing items (flip flops, sweatshirts, t-shirts, lounge pants and bathrobes) arranged for guests who stay on a whim. I absolutely love that she does this! I’ve borrowed the t-shirt and lounge pants before!
  • Basket of goodies. At some point, we’ve all traveled and forgotten something. We have also enjoyed being surprised by sweet smelling soaps and shampoos in a guest bath. Collect soaps and shampoos on sale throughout the year and pop them in the guest bath. Throw away razors, small shaving cream bottles, Q-tips, cotton balls, loofahs, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, toothbrushes (a pack of four) and toothpaste are basket essentials. You can be a good host without breaking the bank. Head to places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Target for those reasonable finds.
  • For an added special touch that can be done before your company arrives place candy in a bowl in the room or on the pillow. Small flowers in a vase. If you have a child, then have him or her make a welcome sign or note. (As a child, I wrote a welcome note and drew pictures for my grandparents when they came to visit. My grandparents adored them and always kept them. Those notes are now framed and hanging in the guest room.)

Having guests over doesn’t have to put you in a frenzy and the guest room doesn’t need to look like a five-star hotel. Make it comfortable and an extension of your already welcoming home!



Spectacularly Scruffy: The New Art of Entertaining

scruffy entertaining

Gathering friends, setting out the fine china, donning a blooming centerpiece, cleaning the house to spotlessness – everyone knows the traditions of entertaining. My family has long loved the concept of hosting a dinner or party, and gathering those you care about for food and fellowship.

There are plenty of secrets to Southern entertaining. However, there’s a new trend emerging in entertaining. It’s equally enjoyable and meaningful, and much less stressful. It’s the notion of scruffy entertaining or scruffy hospitality as some prefer to say.

Simply put, it’s embracing the notion that we open our homes to company as is. We disregard the notion that our homes must looked un-lived in before guests come over. Your home should be authentic to who you are. I’m notorious for cleaning the house before the exterminator comes, fluffing the couch pillows each time I get up from the couch, and routinely putting things back in “their place” at the end of the day. But that’s me. My best friends have homes with belongings piled in every corner, toys scattered about the floor for children, and refrigerators overflowing with leftovers. Their homes are perfect. Because that’s them.

It’s more about friendship and conversation. Memories and laughs. Entertaining can be as simple as gathering friends, grabbing a bottle of wine, reheating the leftovers or ordering Chinese takeout, wearing your gym clothes and watching Netflix together.

Serving meals from what you have. Ordering pizza. Pot luck with everyone bringing a dish. Use paper plates or plastic ones that can be tossed into the dishwasher. Paper towels as napkins. Mix and match. Use leftover cups, napkins, koozies from weddings, birthday parties, etc. Sit on the floor in the den. Flowers can be from the backyard or grocery store. Throw away tablecloths.

True friends are your friends regardless of what your house or lawn look like. Scruffy isn’t a bad word. It doesn’t mean you are messy and unkempt. You are comfortable being you. You are comfortable inviting family and friends over even if the dinner isn’t planned out.