This and That

Home: A Week in South Carolina

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  

-A.A. Milne in Winnie the Pooh

Every time I fly home there’s one song lyric that always goes through my mind as those airplanes wheels touch down in Columbia – Alan Jackson’s “Home.”  The lyric goes, “Lord, there will never be another place in this world that I call home.”

I am not a big fan of country music, but that one song always seems to cause a flurry of emotions inside me.  Half the time I feel tremendous guilt for living so far from family, given how close I am with them.  The other times, I am thinking how happy I am to have the opportunity to live somewhere completely different from where I grew up.  Wherever I end up, home will always be Mama and Daddy’s house.

The summer has been a whirlwind, and I have a notebook full of recipes I’ve jotted down over the last few months and thought, “I’ve gotta add this to my blog!”  Inevitably, the weekend comes, and then after the gym, searching for a career change, hiking, and gallivanting with friends, the thought of writing quality blog material can seem daunting.  Not that this is quality, per se, but humor me.

I thought it would be fitting to write a quick post about my recent trip home to South Carolina. I spent a full week back home with family!  Of course, I stayed at Mama and Daddy’s house, and my little munchkin niece stayed with us the entire week.  I got my fix on grits and sausage, sweet tea, and boiled peanuts. It was great seeing my sister, aunts & uncles, cousins, and my best friend (who’s also my cousin).

The highlight of the trip was definitely the day trip to Asheville, NC.  Have y’all ever been there?!  It’s a hip little city situated right in the Appalachian Mountains of Western NC.  It’s basically a mini-Portland in the middle of Southern Appalachia, filled with craft breweries, live music venues, and farm-to-table restaurants.  My parents, 3 1/2 year old niece and myself spent the entire day exploring downtown, eating an excellent lunch, and driving on the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway.

Here are some of my favorite moments with my favorite people….

This is probably my favorite photo of Daddy and Alex. While driving through Pisgah National Forest, we stopped to view one of the many beautiful waterfalls. This was fitting, considering my niece’s favorite song is literally “Waterfalls” by TLC. Go figure!
Great views along Blue Ridge Parkway.  These are often referred to as the “Smokey Mountains” due to the low-hanging fog.
Before lunch, we stopped at this cute little roadside produce stand outside of Asheville. They had the biggest assortment of tomatoes – all sorts of yellow, red, and orange heirloom varieties you definitely cannot find at your local supermarket. We stocked up on tomatoes because, hello – tomato sandwiches!!!
There’s a little munchkin hiding behind the tomatoes!
The ultimate Southern summertime sandwich: infamous Duke’s mayonnaise, heirloom tomatoes, and bread so fresh it sticks to the roof of your mouth. Delish!

For lunch in downtown Asheville, we ate at the Tupelo Honey Cafe. Despite all my trips to Asheville, I never had the opportunity to eat here because it was always jam-packed! Fortunately, we stopped by in between the lunch and dinner bustle. This place specializes in upscale traditional southern favorites, such as shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, and a killer breakfast menu, featuring sweet potato pancakes! Everything on the menu is sustainably sourced, and mostly from local farms. Of course, I ordered the shrimp and grits, and without shame, ate everything in my bowl. It was absolutely delicious. Tip: go big, order the “spicy” version which also features additional bacon! Win-win!

Awesome shrimp and grits from Tupelo Honey Cafe, featuring wild-caught American shrimp, SC stone-ground goat cheese grits, and a spicy roasted red pepper sauce!
I think we have a future baker on our hands. She loved helping me bake homemade cookies.

After 7 wonderful days at home came the part I always dread the most: getting on that plane back to Phoenix.  I adore the Valley of the Sun, but leaving home never ever gets any easier.

Who knows what the future will bring?  Right now I have no clue where I’ll end up after Phoenix.  Yet whenever I start to feel lost, I somehow always find my way home.

It was so nice and quiet along the creek bed in Pisgah National Forest.
Mama snapped this photo on accident. I just love the expression on Alex’s face. Sometimes the candid shots are the best.




  1. Amy Fraser

    Great job Laura! Your niece is the cutest thing ever. Food looks (and tastes) delicious!


      Thanks so much, Amy! Looking forward to sharing some recipes with you soon!

      1. Amy

        Maybe you could put some of my recipes on there!!

  2. Love the shot of the tomatoes – looks like such a fun trip! Asheville is on my list of places to visit for sure! Glad you got to feed your face and your soul on your trip back home <3


      Thanks so much, Natalie! Those tomatoes were absolutely delicious!

  3. susan

    Your blog looks wonderful. We are so proud of you.


      Thanks, Mama! Couldn’t do it without you and Daddy! <3

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