Share The South

Y’all might think I’m crazy, but when I travel, I make friends. It’s what I do. It’s my thing.

Therefore, when we return to places, I like to take regional gifts or gifts that represent something about me or where I’m from: the South. For example, when we visit Los Angeles, I have a few friends I like to see, and I try to take a little something for them, because some of them have never been here. It’s fun.

Sometimes, it’s something obvious that I take. If the person knows I went to The University of Alabama, I might take a Bama sweatshirt or t-shirt. But I can’t take the same thing every time. It’s fun, to me, to search for interesting places to purchase stuff that represents North Carolina, Alabama, or just the south in general.

Since it’s summertime, we try to make a few more trips than the rest of the year. During the rest of the year there’s that thing that messes up all our travel. It’s called school.

This summer, we have a few trips planned, and I’ve been looking for the perfect southern gifts to take with me on my trips. You know, lots of people all over the country still think we don’t have paved roads or shoes in the south. They think we still cook everything in lard. But with my gifts, I like to introduce them to the real south. Sometimes it’s funny stuff, and sometimes not. But here are a few of my favorite places to get southern gifts.

THE BUTTERCUP GIFTS AND STATIONERY: The Buttercup on Providence Road in Charlotte has great gifts for everyone, and a lot of them represent the south. They have college mascot gifts, personalized stationery and other gifts, jewelry and art by southern artists, and a lovely assortment of other unique gifts you’d be proud to present to that hotel concierge who fielded all your crazy questions before you traveled. Their website can be accessed here, but they have a much bigger assortment in the store.

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THE BITTER SOUTHERNER GENERAL STORE: A friend recently sent me a text and shared this fun website with me. It’s called The Bitter Southerner, and they offer lots of funny gifts with a southern theme. Some of my personal favorites are t-shirts listing the first names of well-known southern authors; sweatshirts featuring one of our favorite southern sayings, “Bless Your Heart;” t-shirts that simply say “Mayo and Tomato;” baseball caps; automobile license plates…you’ll have a great time perusing this site. They even have The Bitter Southerner Coffee Club, a membership plan through which they ship the recipient coffee from “some of the best coffee roasters in the South,” according to the website. Take a look at their offeringshere.byh-sweatshirt_1024x1024.

LOCALS ONLY CHATTANOOGA GIFT SHOP: Another friend told me about a gift shop she stumbled upon in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they offer all sorts of Southern fun stuff and delicacies, including one of my favorites…Miss Shelley’s Southern Jam. They offer four flavors of her jam, and many of my friends could tell you they are fantastic jams, and they make great gifts. In addition to this, they offer all sorts of Chattanooga merchandise, Moon Pies, Southern seasoned grits, and See Rock City birdhouses. People who don’t live in the south might not be familiar with the iconic See Rock City rooftops on barns, but this is a fun way to introduce them. This is a fun website I highly recommend. See their website here.

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PAPER SKYSCRAPER, CHARLOTTE, NC: This store on East Boulevard in Charlotte is chock full of gifts that represent Charlotte and North Carolina. I’ve purchased all sorts of gifts there…lowball glasses with “704” (our zip code) on them, bourbon-infused honey, candles made in Charlotte, cans of Bertie County peanuts, books about Charlotte, and postcards galore. If you’re looking for gifts that represent Charlotte or North Carolina, this is a great place to shop. You can get information about the store from their website here, but to purchase from them, you’ll need to go in for a visit…and it will be fun when you do!

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CORNER COPIA GARDENS AND GIFT SHOP: I’ve written about this one before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Corner Copia Gardens and Gift Shop is located in charming Fairhope, Alabama, a lovely small town on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. It is owned and operated by a childhood friend of mine, Michelle Prouty Johns, who has had a lifelong love of plants and gardening. If you find yourself in the area, it’s worth a stop to see the lovely and sometimes rare plants she has in stock and purchase some fun stuff from the gift shop. She opened the gift shop to supplement the gardens in the off-season, and she has some great gifts, including “air plant jellies,” head-shaped planters, and lots more. If you stop in, please tell her Kelly sent you! She doesn’t have a website, but you can check out her Facebook page here.

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SOUTH GEORGIA PECAN COMPANY: My friend, Linda, who used to live in Valdosta, Georgia, introduced me to South Georgia Pecan Company a few years ago when she gifted me some Chocolate Amaretto Pecans that were absolutely heavenly. She even advised me to keep them in the freezer…it just enhances the flavor. Since then, I’ve gifted them to a few folks myself. The company also offers other types of pecans, gift baskets, and even Southern Pecan Pies, a treat indeed. While you’re at the website, check out their great t-shirts too. They would make great gifts for taking on a flight…easy to get through security. And if you’re not from the south, it’s pronounced puh-KAHN down here. You can order directly through their website here, but if you call them for any reason, please don’t say pee-can.

THREE GEORGES CANDY: Three Georges has been a staple in Mobile, Alabama, for a hundred years. According to a story on the WALA-TV website, the store was opened in 1918 by three Greek immigrants “who, you guessed it, shared the same name: George Pappalamporous, George Spero, and George Pope.” The store is located on Dauphin Street in downtown Mobile, and it should be on your list of places to visit if you find yourself on the Gulf Coast. If you want to try one of their old recipes, go for my favorite, the Heavenly Hash, made up of marshmallows and pecans smothered in milk chocolate. A little bit goes a long way, but everybody in Mobile knows about Heavenly Hash. You an order directly through their website here, but visit if you can.

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I also enjoy sharing books or magazines about the south (click on title for more info): Southern Living Magazine,Our State Magazinefrom North Carolina, Mobile Bay Monthly Magazine, Charlotte Magazine, Southern Home Magazine, and more. Earlier this year, I picked up a photo book about Charlotte from Paper Skyscraper and sent it to a friend who has never visited. Short stories are great too. For a book of short stories about the south, there is The Signet Classic Book of Southern Short Stories, which you can purchasehere.

So, there’s an assortment of places you can find trinkets, apparel, or foods that represent the South. Since I’m going on vacation soon, I plan to put in my orders this weekend. My friends, old and new, that I see on vacation this summer will receive a little piece of the south from us. To me, it’s fun to show them where we’re from, just like it’s fun for me to learn about their homes.

I need to get busy finding things to take, because if I don’t get things done early, I’ll be “as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” (I thank my Daddy for sharing that little saying with me.)

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My not-so-superpower

There was a time I had excellent vision. I could see anything up close, far away…I almost thought of it as my superpower. And then I turned 40.

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The decline in my eyesight was the first clue that I really was, in fact, growing older. I realized I am not the Bionic Woman (her superpower was her hearing). I realized I am going to age just like the rest of the population. I have no superpower. Well, maybe I do, but it’s not my eyesight. (We’ll get to my superpower on another day.)

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I still see things far away really well, but I started needing “readers,” or eyeglasses for reading things up close, in my early 40s. I would purchase the cute little drugstore readers and get them out of my handbag any time I needed them. But then, I realized I could never find them when I needed them, so I started walking around with them pushed down on the bridge of my nose.

That changed when my daughter said, “Mom, you look like a grandma.” There’s nothing wrong with being a grandma, if you ARE a grandma, but I’m not. And I certainly wasn’t a grandma in my early 40s. I had a small child, for goodness sake!

I’ve seen lots of people who wear their readers pushed up high on their noses, but I don’t know how they walk around! I do not need to be looking through a magnifying glass for distance vision.

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I found a website a few years ago that, at the time, I thought had the perfect readers for me. Bifocal readers…clear on top with magnification in the bifocal lens on bottom. Turns out, they were cheaply made, and they were always breaking or the cheap lenses were scratching.

A few months ago, I was visiting my mother and broke the only pair of cheap bifocal readers I had with me. There is a Walgreen’s near her house, so I went to “the corner of happy and healthy” in search of some new readers.

I was in luck. They had some glasses on sale…buy one get one 50% off, and the original price was only $34.95/pair. These particular glasses were on a Foster Grant end cap. They were advertised as computer glasses. I had no idea what that meant, but the discount  lured me in. I was going to investigate.

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What I read was that they were multi-focus glasses, meaning the bottom part of the lens is for reading, the middle for computer work, and the top for interacting. There is a blue blocker in the lens, so it reduces the strain on your eyes from computer work. Here is where I need to add the fine print: “ready-to-wear non-prescription glasses are not intended to replace prescribed corrective lenses or examiniations by an eye care professional. Continous eye check-ups are necessary to determine your eye health status and vision needs.”

Since there was a “buy one get one 50% off” deal, I purchased two. The frames on both are bigger than I usually like, but I needed some glasses immediately!

My friend, Angela, and I had dinner plans that night, so I went back to Mother’s, where I changed clothes, and drove to pick up Angela. We have been friends for more than 30 years…since college. I once had a boyfriend who hated being in the same room with the two of us, because he said, “Y’all talk without talking. It’s weird…like you can read each other’s minds.” Of course, we thought that was hilarious, and we have laughed about it ever since. Our friendship lasted, but that boyfriend is ancient history.

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Turns out he might have been right! When I arrived at Angela’s, she met me at the door. We hugged, and then she backed up and said, “We have the same glasses!” Indeed, we did! Serendipity? Extrasensory perception? When we got in the car, we took a selfie, and I posted it on Instagram, and then we laughed and laughed again at that old boyfriend and what he had said. Maybe we have the superpower of ESP! The fact that she had the same pair made me like the glasses more; I guess I think she’s a Cool Kid, so the glasses must be OK.

“Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?” Some of you will remember that ad campaign from the 60s and 70s. The funny thing about these Foster Grants is that I purchased them in a BOGO deal, and I get compliments all…the…time! A few nights ago, I was at dinner with my teenage daughter, and we ran into some friends. One of them said she and another friend had been talking about my great glasses! What?! My Foster Grants? My daughter said, “You get compliments on those glasses ALL THE TIME!” It’s true!

I know…I keep talking about how they look. Well, they work well too. First, the construction seems to be good quality, and the lenses definitely don’t scratch as easily as the others I used. Also, I’ve noticed a big difference in eye strain when using the computer, so I guess they actually do what they’re designed to do!

So, I’m giving y’all the scoop. Want some great multi-focus glasses? These are awesome. You can purchase them directly from Foster Grant here, or you can purchase them on Amazon here. They offer lots of different styles, but for me, the style that receives the most compliments is called the Conan, and it  appears (today) to be sold out on the Foster Grant site, but it’s still available on Amazon. It’s a bigger frame than I usually buy, but I love them. Angela likes hers too. I had to wear them for a day before I became accustomed to the “multi-focus” lens, but that’s all it took.

So yes, they are my new favorite glasses. As for my superpower…I could tell you, but I’m saving that for another post.

What’s YOUR superpower?

Kelly