Summertime is almost here, and if you love books as much as we do, we know you’re compiling your TBR stack for the summer. Well, guess what? We’ve done it for you, finding the perfect mix of romance, women’s fiction and mystery – all southern fiction, all set at the beach and perfect for reading by the ocean, the pool or in your home while you relax and sip an iced coffee.

Summer is all about getting outside enjoying some rays and having good times. And there’s no better way to do that than to listen to a fun playlist of music full of good vibrations.

We’ve compiled our list of eleven songs that we’re listening to this summer. Our list spans the genres of country and pop, from Maren Morris to Corrine Bailey Rae and back to Chris Lane. Good music knows no bounds, ya’ll!

by Chika Gujarathi

Set in the tiny fictional community of Waves, North Carolina in the Outer Banks, is Jenny Hale’s newest romantic novel, The Summer House. As someone who loves to align her reading with the current season, I was so excited to pick up this book which is filled with new beginnings, friendships, and romance, all taking place in a beautiful beach setting.

by Angela Garrison Zontek

In southern kitchens, nothing is more iconic than the cast iron skillet. In fact, no other culinary artifact from the 20th century has enjoyed the same longevity, or popularity, as cast iron cookware. Unlike most treasured family heirlooms, the cast iron skillet never collects dust, instead, it serves as a working piece of history that connects southern cooks with their past. My grandmother collected cast iron pans for the sole purpose of passing down to her grandchildren—and she meant for them to be used.

by Chika Gujarthi

It wasn’t long ago when cookbooks started layering personal essays with recipes as a way to evoke our interest beyond just the ingredients and methods. Using a similar spin is Kerry Bogert’s expertly curated Coffeehouse Knits – Knitting Patterns and Essays with Robust Flavor, which provides a perfect combination of know-how and inspiration for knitters of all levels. 

by Angela Garrison Zontek

Southern bread is an experience… the smell, the texture and the weight. In the south, the making of bread is a family affair, and most of us have fond memories of rolling out dough with our mothers and grandmothers. I used an amber floral drinking glass, 70’s style, to cut out rounds in the biscuit dough with my grandmother in her kitchen. Our biscuits were never pretty, but that was never the intention, our only concern was to make them delicious.

by Staff Writer

We’re drinking all the strawberry beer this Spring. And why not? What better way to kick back and enjoy the fresh fruity flavors of the season than to drink the best strawberry-inspired beers we could find? It’s the beginning of the strawberry season after all. Our roundup of seasonal favorites includes three beers from North Carolina: one ale, one sour, an apple cider and one beer brewed in England.

by Dianna Dames

The Azalea Festival first came about in 1948 after Dr. Houston Moore, MD spent several years cultivating the Greenfield Lake area of Wilmington, NC. Inspired by the Rhododendron, or Azalea flower, he successfully rallied the support of community leaders to create a festival in its honor. Over the years, the festival has expanded to include artwork, gardening, and local history. Every year, the festival draws around 300,000 people into Wilmington.

by Taylor Brooks

If you are a fan of beer, or just a fan of having a good time, you will definitely be a fan of at least one of Trophy Brewing’s three locations. For your food truck days with friends, pizza nights with the family, or dinner dates downtown, Trophy has a location to suit your needs. For this sunny Saturday afternoon, in particular, I decided to check out Trophy Brewery and Taproom.

By Anika Williams

Walking around Lafayette Village in North Raleigh is one of my favorite ways to pass the time. It’s an adorable European-style village in the middle of suburban Raleigh that approximates a small town in France but actually houses locally-owned gourmet restaurants and upscale shopping. It was on one of my strolls around the village, that I happened upon Jubala Village Coffee located on the perimeter of the shopping center.

by Taylor Brooks

What would the South be without its traditional dishes? Typically, full of warmth and comfort, for those who are trying to make healthier eating choices the Southern favorites seem to be out of the question. But, with a few changes, you can make Southern food healthy. And we know healthy means different things to different people. But whether you’re trying to cut sugar, salt, carbs or fat, there are easy ways to enjoy your southern favorites.

by Debbie Burdick

The search for donuts often leads to well-known national chains, some of which have kiosks even in the local gas stations. However, one Durham donut shop can be found not in, but next to a corner gas station, and the owners and bakers are often right inside rather than at corporate headquarters. That shop is Baker’s Dozen, one of a family-owned chain of three shops in the Triangle that are offering some friendly yet serious competition to the national chains.

by Debbie Burdick

Helado. The Spanish word for ice cream slides over the tongue as easily as ice cream itself. At Pincho Loco, the ice cream and dessert shop tucked between Broad and Ninth streets in Durham, this creamy delight takes on many forms.

True to a Latin American sense of style, the little shop announces its presence at 1918 Perry Street with a profusion of colorful signs, the biggest ones offering their menu choices in both English and Spanish.

by Chika Gujarathi

When it comes to family fun, Raleigh has a lot to offer. So much so, that sometimes it’s precisely the abundance of options that makes it tricky to plan for a fun and relaxing day out. Well, today, I have an itinerary that is slightly off the beaten path, but it still does a top-notch job of delivering fun for the whole family without the usual hassles of crowds and parking!

by Debbie Burdick

Pristine nature is a relative rarity. Just ask any seasoned hiker how many times she or he has been enjoying a “natural” view and then stumbled upon an old cellar pit or a stone wall that once marked the edge of a farm. Nature taking back its own has its charms though, and the interaction between human history and natural history make the Occoneechee Speedway Trail one of the most intriguing in the Hillsborough area.

by Chika Gujarathi

When I recently came across the chance to review Geoffrey Fisher’s Slingshots & Key Hooks: 15 Everyday Objects Made from Foraged and Gathered Wood, it was nearly impossible to say no. This is quite a strange decision because I am not, nor have I ever been, a carpenter, a woodworker, or even a wood hobbyist. But, what I am, is a creative person who loves making things with her own hands. And that is just what Slingshots & Key Hooks is all about.

By Anika Williams

 

I love downtown Raleigh with it’s hustle and bustle, sights and the many spontaneous events that it hosts. Parades, street festivals, and arts and crafts shows are just a few that come to mind. Now that the weather is taking a turn for the warmer, I took my family and headed downtown this past weekend. We ran across a book store that had a Little Library out front. I was immediately charmed and decided to visit the shop. 

by Nikki Terpilowski

I thought I knew all of the coffee shops in Fuquay-Varina. But recently, I drove down Broad Street and saw a new sign on one of the historic buildings I’ve always found so intriguing. It was the location for a butcher for a while, was empty and now it’s filled with chocolates, pastries and coffee. I had to see for myself what Tsuru Sweets & Coffee was all about.

by Anika Williams

As a mother of a three-year-old boy, I’ve had my fair share of nighttime throwdowns. Sometimes it would start right away, and he would refuse to clean up his toys in order to stay awake longer. Other times I would get all the way out of his room before he would have a massive fit and I would spend another hour trying to calm him down. This meant runs for water, extra trips to the bathroom and just one more story. Sigh.

by Anika Williams

 

I’ve always loved books and I often seek the refuge of bookstores in my area.

There is a mixture of big-box chain bookstores and independent bookstores in the greater Raleigh-area and I thought I’d visited them all. So I was pleasantly surprised when  I stumbled upon an independent bookstore in Wake Forest, secreted away amongst a community theater and a dance school. I couldn’t wait to explore.

Who doesn’t like fluffy buttery sweet pancakes for breakfast? Or lunch? Or dinner? It’s one of those meals that can appease the finickiest of eaters, both child, and adult. We know it’s pretty hard to mess up pancakes and they’re actually really good, whether you get them at a drive-thru window at a fast-food restaurant, sit down for a quick bite at a country diner or hobnob it at a fine dining establishment serving mimosas with your pancakes at brunch. But we still wanted to figure out some of the best places in North Carolina to get a really tasty plate of pancakes, and that is what we did.

by Debra Burdick

Early afternoon on a Saturday, a woman stands in front of the counter at Halgo speaking Polish, ordering kielbasa and other meats. A couple proudly tells Ziggy Gorzkowski, the proprietor, that their families are from Poland and they are transplants from Michigan in search of good Polish food. But customers don’t need an accent or family history in order to enjoy Halgo, the European deli across Alston Avenue from the South Regional Library in Durham.

by Chika Gujurathi

I am willing to bet that after sleep, the next most researched topic in parenthood is food. In fact, in my homestead of three young kids, there is never a moment when I am not thinking about food. Even as a self-professed foodie who loves to cook and read cookbooks and food blogs, I am constantly exhausted trying to stay one step ahead in my children’s questionable and ever-changing eating habits.

by Angela Garrison Zontek

Southern food is a living record of the people, places, and cultures that have contributed to the evolving landscape of our unique little corner of the world. Too complex and varied to ever achieve a conclusive origin story, the history of Southern food is best examined by considering its major influences—the integration of cultures, natural bounty, and love for the community.

Isn’t it annoying when you’re mad for some good Polish food, you do an internet search and find a bunch of German or vaguely European restaurants? Hello, they’re not the same. Don’t worry, we’ve done the search for you – hey, we know how hard it is to find a good Polish place to eat in the south. It’s near darn impossible, not like up north, where you can’t throw a stone for hitting a Polish deli.

There’s just something about a nice cozy mystery. If you’ve read one, or two or three, you know what I mean. They are a bit addictive with the cute town, eccentric cast of characters and mysteries you want to solve for yourself. And let’s not forget the themes! It’s so entertaining to read a story that incorporates something you’re really interested in, whether it’s cooking, knitting or woodworking, there’s a cozy mystery for every reader. And there’s nothing we love more than to find a really good cozy mystery set in the south.

We’ve compiled a list of our favorite cozy mystery series set in the southern USA. 

I remember discovering craft beer. And then I realized I was a porter and stouts kind of gal. The darker and the thicker the brew, the better. And almost immediately after that, I recall thinking that the stout beer I was drinking would probably taste awesome in a cup of vanilla ice cream. I immediately did an internet search for is ice cream and beer a thing? Of course, as the internet will remind you, there is nothing new under the sun. And every idea has already been thought of… at least twice. Of course craft beer + ice cream or spirits + ice cream is a thing. Of course it is.

When’s the last time you had dinner with your family? I don’t mean when’s the last time you all sat on the couch watching TV or playing video games and eating dinner at the same time, but rather, I’m referring to the old school tradition of setting the dining room table with plates, cups and silverware. Everyone sits together and there’s no screens or devices to be seen?