Simply Carolina: My Favorite Things about NC

June 26

North Carolina-one of my favorite places in the world. Trust me, I could make you fall in love with all things about the Tarheel state and here’s why:

1. We have the best of both worlds-beautiful mountains and beaches.

2. UNC v. Duke basketball rivalry is a can’t miss.

3. The Wright Brothers and the gift of aviation.

4. We have all four seasons.

5. BBQ–need I say more?

6. There is a city for all types of people.

7. There are TONS of places to have fun for a day-trip, such as Carowinds, The Biltmore Estate, and the Outer Banks.

8. We all know the wonderful taste of Cheerwine.

9. North Carolina is known as “The Hollywood of the East Coast.”

10. You can’t beat the music and musicians from the state. James Taylor, Scotty McCreery, Ben Folds….(the list goes on and on 🙂 )

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Winter in Europe



“Oh, the weather outside is frightful.” These song lyrics are never more true than when you are in Europe during the winter. While the temperatures are chilling and snow covers most of the ground, there is also no better time to travel to this continent. The scenery of the different countries is beautiful and you’ll leave with tears in your eyes, wanting to stay. Here are your top tips for planning your trip for winter in Europe.

Where to Go:

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Hungary

When to Go: 

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April

What to Pack:

  • Fleece Jacket
  • Insulated Coat
  • Warm Pants
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Wooly Socks
  • Winter Shoes
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Simply Carolina: South Carolina’s Hidden Gems

Travel the road less traveled, go off the beaten path…we all know the quotes that tell us to travel away from the busy places. You know what? Those quotes are true. Sometimes the best travel and memories are made within the “hidden gems.” For today’s Simply Carolina, there is anything better than the hidden gems of South Carolina.

Walahalla – A mountain city, full of history.

 

Chattooga River – Hiking, whitewater rafting, and waterfalls? What more could you want?

 

Abingdon Manor in Latta – A bed and breakfast inn, complete with a Greek Revival Style.

 

Cooper’s Country Store in Salters – Shop for smoked hams, shotguns, and everything in between before hitting the road again.

 

Bluffton – This little city is home to charm, cafes, and cute shops.

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I Spy… The International Spy Museum

I spy with my little eye… fun facts about the International Spy Museum! Located in Washington D.C., this museum is home to espionage and all things related to a career of a spy. First opened in 2002, it is home to many exhibits and artifacts. The museum’s collection includes objects from secret espionage missions throughout world history. The items are on loan from collectors in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and many more places.

Before you go to the museum, take a look at some unknown facts below to help plan for a great adventure.

  1. Book tickets ahead of time.
  2. Don’t visit during the holidays. This is an extremely busy time for the museum.
  3. Children are welcomed, but ages 10 and up will have the most fun during their experience.
  4. The museum is 64,000 square feet – schedule enough time to get the full affect of the exhibits.

For more information or to plan your trip, visit: www.spymuseum.org.

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Winter Weather Driving Tips

It’s the season for winter weather. Snow, ice, and sleet are likely and can make travel a little sticky. The most important tip is if you don’t have to go anywhere, stay home. But, if you do, follow the below advice for safe travels.

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Simply Carolina: Moravian Sugar Cake



When Winston-Salem, NC is your hometown, you know all about the Moravians and their famous Sugar Cake. The Moravians are a protestant group who originated in the Czech Republic around 1415. 250 years ago, they settled in Winston-Salem’s Wachovia Tract.

Moravian Sugar Cake: 

Ingredients: 
1 medium-size russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 envelope active dry yeast
 ½ teaspoon plus 1 sugar 
½ cup shortening 
¼ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt 

2 large eggs, beaten
 3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 cup butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes and chilled 
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions: 

1. Place the potato in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, reserving the cooking water. Mash the potato as smooth as possible with a fork, food mill, or ricer. 

2. Measure out 1 cup of potatoes into a small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of the potato cooking water. Cover and keep warm. 

3. Dissolve the yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar in ¼ cup warm potato water; let stand 5 minutes, or until mixture bubbles. Discard any remaining potato cooking water.

4.  Stir together the warm mashed potato, the remaining 1 cup sugar, the shortening, ¼ cup butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl; stir until melted. Stir in the yeast mixture. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until spongy. 

5. Stir in the eggs and flour to make a dough.

Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap misted with nonstick spray and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. 

6. Pat the dough evenly in a greased 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk.

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7. Preheat the oven to 375°. Deeply dimple the surface of the dough with your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon. Tuck a butter cube into each dimple.

8. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle evenly over the dough and down into the dimples.

9. Bake in center of oven for 20 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy! 

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Simply Carolina: Holidays in Winston-Salem



It’s the most wonderful time of the year! During the holiday season, there are lots of things to do, including cooking, decorating, shopping, and wrapping presents. But, there is also another important part to the season – participating in some of the traditions throughout Winston-Salem. Growing up, some of the events below were must-dos to complete the holidays. Here are the can’t miss events for the holidays in Winston-Salem.

  • Holidays at Old Salem- As an alumna of Salem College, the holidays at Old Salem was always one of my favorite times of the year. I loved the decorations in the Square and buildings. Some of the events at the historic site include Saturdays with St. Nicholas, Christmas Lovefeast at St. Philips, and the Candle Tea. My favorite, the Candle Tea, is sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship of Home Moravian Church. The event is held in the Single Brothers’ House and is made up of singing Christmas carols, learning how the Moravian beeswax candles are made, enjoying Moravian coffee and sugar cake, and hearing about the history of Salem. Visitors will also experience what life was like in early Salem through hearing stories and viewing the putz, which is the miniature replica of the town. Lastly, the meaning of Christmas will be shared through the lighted Nativity putz.
  • Tanglewood Festival of Lights- Open nightly from November 18th to January 1st, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights is now in its 25th season and is one of the largest light shows in the Southeast. The 4 mile route has over 100 light displays that you can drive past. In addition, attendees can shop the festival’s gift village, have a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and warm up by the fire at S’moresville. Hayrides and carriage rides through the Festival of Lights are also available.
  • The Winston-Salem Jaycees Holiday Parade and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting- For many, the holidays don’t begin until this evening occurs. This year, the Winston-Salem Jaycees will host it’ 26th holiday parade through downtown Winston-Salem. Businesses, organizations, school groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and many more will march down the parade route as we welcome the holidays and you guessed it, the guy in the big red suit, Santa Claus! Many parade go-ers will then attend the next event, the annual Christmas tree lighting, hosted by the Jaycees’ event partner, the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnerships. The tree lighting will take place directly after the parade. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, December 3rd at 5p.m. with the parade route starting on Fourth Street on Poplar Street and ending at the intersection on Liberty Street.
  • UNC School of the Arts Presentation of The Nutcracker Ballet- the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA)’s performance of The Nutcracker has been a holiday staple in the Camel City for decades. Each year, students from the university put on 10 performances of Tchaikovsky’s world-famous ballet, complete with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker Prince, Clara, and the Mouse King. The matinée and evening shows will be performed daily December 9-10 and 14-18. Tickets are currently on sale.
  • A Bethabara Christmas- Venture back in time to the 1753 Moravian settlement of Bethabara. On Saturday, December 3rd, visitors can experience holiday traditions of the historic site. There will be music by Downtown Sounds, beeswax candle demonstrations, and other Christmas traditions.
  • Fox8/Old Dominion Holiday Concert- This Winston-Salem holiday tradition is a musical way to spread holiday cheer and get in the spirit of the season. Fox 8 news anchors hosts a concert by the Winston-Salem Symphony, filled with a carol sing-along. This year’s concert is Saturday, December 17th at 7:30pm and is free with a canned or non-perishable food donation. The donations will be given to the Salvation Army Food Banks throughout the Piedmont Triad.
  • Handel’s Messiah– Another musical way to ring in the holiday season with the Winston-Salem Symphony is their annual performance of Handel’s Originally written for Easter, George Handel’s classic musical work made its debut in Dublin in 1742. Now, known as a Christmas piece, Messiah is performed throughout the world, including right here in Winston-Salem. This year’s productions will be on December 13th and 14th at Centenary United Methodist Church with conductor Robert Moody and special guests.

Article originally published in Forsyth Magazines. 

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Homemade Spanakopita

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This past weekend, I went to a Greek bake-sale in my hometown. Yum! I could have bought everything on the menu. One of the items I purchased was Spanakopita, which was devoured in no time. So, I decided to try to make some at home and wanted to share the recipe with you. Here is my homemade Spanakopita recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound filo pastry sheets

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large sauce pan. Add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of oil. Pour off any liquid from the pan, and add remaining oil.
  2. Add scallions and saute until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach, parsley, salt and pepper to the scallions. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from to cool.
  3. Stir the feta and beaten egg to the cooled spinach mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush a baking sheet with the melted butter.
  5. Unroll the filo dough on a flat surface and keep it covered with waxed paper and a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out. Using a sharp knife, cut the filo into 3 by 11 inch strips, and recover with the towel. Use a pastry brush to brush a strip of filo with melted butter. Place a small spoonful of spinach filling 1 inch from the end of the pastry. Fold the end over the filling to form a triangle, then continue to fold up the strip in triangles, like folding up a flag. Continue with remaining strips of dough, placing filled triangles on the baking sheet and keeping them covered with a towel until ready to bake.
  6. Brush the triangles lightly with butter, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Enjoy!

 

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Giant’s Causeway – Northern Ireland

  
Known as one of the most beautiful sights in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is made up of more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which are a result of volcanic activity. However, people believe the site was a bridge built for giants.

Legend has it that Finn MacCool was an Irish giant, who was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant, Benandonner. MacCool accepted the duel and built the causeway to travel the North Channel to meet Benandonner.

As for the rest for the story, there are different versions. One states that MacCool defeated Benandonner. Another says he disguised himself as a baby and hid once he saw how big Benandonner was. Benandonner went looking for MacCool, but when he saw the baby’s size, he ran thinking the real MacCool must be even larger than him and destroyed the causeway.

However the legend ends, we can all agree on one thing – Giant’s Causeway is absolutely breathtaking and a must-see.

Some little known facts about the location are:

  1. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.
  2. In 1987, it became a national nature reserve by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
  3. The column’s tops form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot to under the sea.

 

 

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Being Prepared for a Hurricane

 
 It’s hurricane season and with this time of the year, it is important to be ready for a storm. Hurricanes mainly affect coastal areas but also can cause rain and damage inland. Below are some tips from the American Red Cross on how you can be prepared for a hurricane. 

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).Check your disaster supplies. Replace or restock as needed.
  • Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture).
  • Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Turn off propane tank.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • Create a hurricane evacuation plan with members of your household. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
  • Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
  • Obey evacuation orders. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

Recommended Supplies: 

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio – NOAA Weather Radio, if possible. 
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket 
  • Map(s) of the area
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Rain gear
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Camera for photos of damage

For more information, visit: redcross.org

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