The Practical Gift Guide for People Who Say They Don't Need Anything!


The Practical Gift Guide for People Who Say They Don't Need Anything!

You know those people who say, "I don't need anything!"   We all know them.   And, quite honestly, they are probably right.  These people have accumulated a lot of things over the years, and they probably do not need a thing, but that doesn't mean they don't have wants. So, after testing some culinary products gifted to me and hours of mulling over the internet, I've put together a stellar gift guide that can be used for neighbors, dog walkers, teachers, and of course, that person who has everything.  These gifts could stand alone, or you could add two products together to create a theme. 


Top Row Left:  All She Wrote Notes-Mary Square One Thing Everyday Ceramic Mug sold online and in-person at Little Details Boutique, a local boutique located in Garner, NC.  All She Wrote Notes is an NC business founded by Maghon Taylor, who sparked her love for calligraphy into a great business. Mary Square is also an NC-based lifestyle company located in Apex, NC. 


Top Row Middle: Dark and Dreamy Hot Chocolate Mix.  People of all ages love hot chocolate, and this hot chocolate mix can be for anyone on your list. This silver-decorated holiday tin can be made with water, milk, or a non-dairy alternative. The hot chocolate mix is made without sodium or hydrogenated fats and is gluten-free. Each tin makes 11 cups. It's only 60 calories per serving. The mixture would go great with the mug above, as well as a more significant gift. 

Cup of Dark and Dreamy Epicure Hot Cocoa with Peppermint


Top Row Right: Zip and Go Reusable Snack Bags in Three Sizes  This gift screams practical and eco-friendly. These bags are great for snacks on the go, lunch boxes, or storing leftovers. Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.  If you wanted, you could Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn made in Asheville, NC with it. This stuff is fantastic. It comes in lots of different flavors. 


Eco-Friendly Resusable Snack Bags in Three Sizes by Epicure
Popcorn made in Asheville, NC by Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn




Middle Row Left:  Carolina Brewery Sauces.  Carolina Brewery in Hillsborough, NC, is known for great beer, but they also make some darn good sauces. I am a big fan of the Sriracha Steak Sauce and its Eastern BBQ Sauce. The Sriracha Steak  Sauce is addicting, and I've started putting it on everything and in soups.  I love it.  

Carolina Brewery Sriracha Steak Sauce and Carolina Brewery Amber Ale


Middle Row Middle: Guacamole Dip Mix Seasoning by Epicure. This is one of my absolute favorite seasoning mixes. I've been using it for about a year, and it makes delicious guacamole. I also season eggs, veggies, cottage cheese, and tomatoes with it.  At under $10, it is an excellent gift for anyone who will love it if they like guacamole.  Pair it with an appetizer bowl for a more significant gift.  This gluten-free dip mix is all-natural and good for you. 


Guacamole in a white bowl. Seasoning by Epicure



Middle Row Right: Poco Picante Salsa Mix by Epicure.  We all know chips and salsa make a great meal, and this salsa can be on your table in fifteen minutes.  All you need is this seasoning, a can of tomatoes, and a splash of lime.  This salsa mix can also be used in tops of recipes. 


chips, salsa and guacamole. Mixes by Epicure



Bottom Row Left: Villeroy and Boch New Wave Square Dip Bowl.  Who says a bowl has to be round? My own personal china is Villeroy and Boch, and I love these square new wave dip bowls, priced at just $12 each.  They are classic but yet modern. Pair it with any dip seasoning mix for a great gift. 


dips in Villeroy and Boch china


Bottom Row Middle: Mulling Spices by Epicure Nothing says happy holidays like mulling spices. These mulling spices work with apple juice, wine, or cranberry juice.  It's a taste of the holidays with aromatic cloves, star anise, and real orange peel.  North Carolina is known for its Moravian bakery in Winston-Salem.  Pair these mulling spices with some Dewey's Moravian-style cookies for an authentic holiday gift. 


Mulled Apple Cider and Moravian Cookies. Seasoning by Epicure


Morvavian cookies from NC


Bottom Row Right:  Mountain Chai Tea from Asheville Tea Company.  From farm to teacup, this is one of the best tea blends I've tasted.  If you have a tea lover in your life, then you will love Asheville Tea Company Tea.  You can't go wrong with any blend. 


Blends of Tea from Asheville Tea Company


This year, the Mountain Chai blend is a new blend, and honestly, it is heaven in a cup. I drink this tea with a little bit of honey and milk. 

Mountain Chai Tea Blend from Asheville Tea Company with clear pot with loose tea leaves




Roasted Garlic and Anchovies Make NC Chef's Teddy Diggs Fall Radicchio Salad Recipe a Winner

When North Carolina Chef Teddy Diggs, owner of Coronato Pizza in Carrboro, gave me his recipe for radicchio salad with his homemade caesar salad to make at home, I had no idea that I would become such a big fan of anchovies.

Anchovies are the fish that make most people go, "Ewww!" But, the little fish has some big health benefits. In fact, I was not even sure if I had eaten anchovies before buying them for this recipe.

Radicchio Salad with Anchovy and Roasted Garlic Dressing


Chef Diggs, whose accolades go from cooking at the White House to studying under Chefs in Italy to working in high-end hotels, has brought Roman-style pizza to the South. He doesn't serve pizza with anchovies on the menu, but his fall salad, dressed with roasted garlic and anchovy dressing, will make you an anchovy lover, too. I promise.

Chef Teddy Diggs of Coronoto Pizza

When I made the salad, I used romaine lettuce because I could not find radicchio in August. Chef Diggs told me that romaine or even tender kale would be good home substitutes because, for the home chef,  radicchio is not always in your grocery store. In addition, the bitterness of the lettuce complements the saltiness and boldness of the anchovies and roasted garlic in the dressing.

Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Make an Italian Caesar Dressing. This salad is with romaine lettuce


Roasting the garlic is also key to giving this salad dressing recipe with anchovies another dimension of flavor. He told me that many Caesar dressings use garlic, but it's typically fresh garlic cloves. He believes roasting the garlic enhances the flavor of this homemade caesar dressing even more.

Chef Diggs likes to use anchovies from Italy's Amalfi Coast packed in oil. You can use salted anchovies, but they will need to be rinsed for about twenty minutes before blending them into the dressing. I went to Whole Foods Prime to buy my anchovies. I could not find any from Italy, so I put some from Spain in my cart, but in the end, when they arrived at home, my anchovies were substituted for Reese flat fillets of anchovies imported from Morocco. They worked, and I loved the dressing. Chef Diggs recommends the Delfino brand.

anchovy fillets by Reese

Delfino Anchovy fillets from Amalfi Coast


This salad serves four, but I have to admit to you that I ate the entire salad for lunch. It was that good. I want to make it again with the radicchio for fall, or better yet, maybe I should just go to Carrboro to Coronato Pizza instead.

radicchio salad with delfino anchovy fillets


Coronato Pizza's Fall Radicchio Salad with Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Dressing (The Better Caesar Dressing)


Ingredients:
● 2 head of roasted garlic
● 6 filet oil-packed anchovy or 4 salted anchovies rinsed and soaked in water
● 1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnishing
● 1 egg yolks
● 1 1⁄2 cup blended oil (80 % olive oil/ 20% canola oil)
● 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
● 2 tablespoons lemon juice
● 1⁄4 cup water
● Kosher salt as needed
● 12 to 14 ounces radicchio (5 red-leaf endives, 3 long Treviso or 1 large round radicchio di Chioggia, or a
mixture), cored and cut in 1/2-inch-wide slivers, washed and dried
● Extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and 1⁄2 lemon as needed for dressing the salad
Note: I substituted Romaine for Radicchio. Tender Kate is also a substitute.

Directions:
For the dressing:
Combine all roasted garlic cloves, anchovies, Parmigiano cheese, egg yolk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. While the food processor is running, drizzle in the oil. The mixture will begin to emulsify and thicken. Use the water to adjust the consistency of the dressing as desired. Season with salt. Reserve the dressing until use.

For the salad:
Place the cleaned radicchio in a mixing bowl and spoon about a 1⁄2 cup of the dressing over the lettuce. Crack fresh black pepper over the bowl, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half of a lemon, or about 2 tablespoons. Mix ingredients together thoroughly.
Plate the dressed salad evenly between 5 plates and finish with finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.





Past Sponsor: 
My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor McNeill Nissan of Wilkesboro, NC 2020 Nissan Rogue.  The Nissan Rogue is awaiting your test drive at McNeill Nissan today. My blog sponsors keep me at my desk writing editorial content that I love to share and OutaboutNC. 

Forget Rice-A-Roni: Try this Easy Ginger Rice Recipe as a Dinner Side

When you are a mom, you are always looking for quick dinner ideas that are not only quick but something your kids will eat. However, when you are single, you barely want to cook. Therefore,  boiling water and throwing something in a pot sounds like a good idea. 


When you browse the aisles of an American grocery store,  it's quite easy to see that brands are catering to this growing trend by putting more boxed meals on the market.  Rice-A-Roni is a great example. Who remembers that commercial jingle?  The company has evolved into selling products that you can make in the microwave with single servings in three minutes through the years. 


If you like Rice-A-Roni, but want less sodium and want to eat healthier with little effort, then give this side dish a try.  It's so easy and delicious.  You can serve this with chicken, seafood, or pork. 



 



EASY GINGER RICE: A Recipe from Epicure

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 cup rice
12 cupsNourish Broth, prepared
12 tsp sea salt (Grinder)
1 tbsp3 Onion Dip Mix or any Epicure Seasoning Dip. I suggest Garden Veggie, Spinach, or Guacamole because it is good on everything. 

PREPARATION 
  1. Combine all ingredients in Multipurpose Pot - 8 cups.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer, covered, for 12–15 minutes, or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.
  3. Fluff with a fork and serve.

 Calories 240, Fat 4.5 g (Saturated 0.5 g, Trans 0 g), Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 310 mg, Carbohydrate 43 g (Fiber 1 g, Sugars 0 g), Protein 6 g.

Epicure's seasonings are lower in sodium, reduced sugars, ingredients you can pronounce, and gluten-free. 


If you like this recipe,  you may also like 3 Onion Sesame Crunch Rice. 



And you will love cooking rice in the Epicure steamer.  It is awesome. You can take the dog for a walk and not worry about the pot boiling over.  





Easy Ginger Rice.  A  Delicious Side



Epicure is a HinesSightBlog affiliate. 

5 Easy Recipes for Summer

Updated July 2021. 

Before summer is over, I thought I would give you a list of five of my favorite recipes that are perfect for the summer season. I have already featured these recipes on the blog. These summer recipes scream North Carolina produce, lazy beach days, and southern porch sitting.  





























Make summer cooking easy by using cookware that can help you get dinner on the table quickly.  Learn why the Epicure steamer is an essential tool in my kitchen. 

The Chetola Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains is worth a Visit in NC

185 Chetola Lake Dr, Blowing Rock, NC 28605, USA

Updated 2021. This story was originally written in the summer of 2020 during the middle of the Covid pandemic. Since our visit, my beloved pet, Andy, crossed the rainbow bridge. This story will always be special to me because it was our last trip with Andy. He died in November 2020 of congestive heart failure. We have since added Ollie, the poodle, to our family.  He is currently nine months old, and I'm not sure if the Chetola Resort is quite ready for his puppy ways, but I do look forward to traveling to Blowing Rock again in the future.  In 2021, the Chetola Resort still offers a dog-friendly package for its guests.  Summer is one of the best times to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains in NC. 


Travel in 2020 has been a downer. For many, it has been non-existent. With hotels and restaurants closed, COVID quarantine restrictions, many traveler's plans were scrapped, or people were afraid of traveling. My own family vacation to France and Germany came to a screeching halt. No flights going to France made that decision automatically for us. Still, even if traveling continued all summer during this health crisis, I do not believe we would have continued with our plans to Europe at all. More than likely, we would have canceled them on our own. 


Lucky for me, I live in North Carolina. So I have a beautiful state to explore in my own backyard. North Carolina ranked sixth in the nation for overnight visitation in tourism last year. In fact, North Carolina was on an upward swing in tourism spending in all 100 counties. 



The lake on the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC
The Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC



Unfortunately, no one could predict the massive tourism halt that COVID caused in 2020. First, hotels and restaurants were closed to guests for months. Then, when they slowly started opening at 50% capacity, they were faced with the public hesitation about travel in general and the additional responsibility of extra sanitation and safety diligence. 


Chetola Resort Lodge




During quarantine, I launched a new Live Interview Chat from my home office on OutaboutNC Instagram. Each week, that interview segment became my weekly dose of joy and my new connection to NC. For example, when Governor Roy Cooper announced the state could operate in Phase 2 of COVID Restrictions, I interviewed management with the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. It was one of the first hotels in North Carolina to undergo the new "Count on Me NC" NCRLA Safety Certification. 





After that interview with Chetola, I had the itch to travel and look at something besides my living room.  Will was more skittish about travel than I was. However, he was sad about missing our trip to Europe.


Leigh Powell Hines, founder of OutaboutNC/HinesSightBlog Visits the Chetola Resort during COVID



After some sweet talk-coaxing, I convinced Will that getting away would be excellent for our family's mental health.  Let me rephrase that. I did say it would be good for our mental health, but I also flat out announced I would take the Chetola Resort up on its offer for a press trip. He could stay home and work or go with us to the mountains, but COVID would not stop me. I felt confident in the steps the resort put into place after my interview.  I also was so tired of cooking in quarantine that the thought of getting room service was really appealing. 

My list of pros for visiting the Chetola Resort was strong. 


I stressed that the hotel was taking a full 24-hours between guests to clean rooms during COVID. This top-ranked North Carolina mountain resort, located on 78-acres between the mountain towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, has received many housekeeping accolades throughout the years, so cleanliness has always been a resort strength. Still, that strength is even more critical in 2020 and is at the top of every guest's checklist due to the COVID circumstances. 


The Chetola Resort recently received the AAA "Best of Housekeeping" Award.  Following CDC guidelines, masks were also required in all public spaces. In addition, the temperatures of all guests were being taken at the entry gate before checking in


The resort's Timberlake restaurant served at 50 percent capacity, offering take-out, room service, and outside seating.  The hotel also had a list of restaurants at the Front Desk that offered outdoor dining and take-out in Blowing Rock and Boone. 


Another strong pro travel point I gave to Will was there were activities for us to do on the property, so it would definitely feel like a vacation. The pro there for safety is that there was a lot to do outside while staying on the resort property.  If we didn't feel safe leaving the resort to go into Boone or Blowing Rock, we would be entertained with tennis courts, resort activities,  hiking, and swimming. 


The Blowing Rock-Boone area is also an easy drive two to three-hour drive from Raleigh. However, it is shorter in length than a trip to the Asheville area. 


And last, but certainly not least, our dog, Andy, could go with us to Blowing Rock for this get-away. The Chetola Resort is pet-friendly in the newly-renovated Chetola Lodge only. The condos available for reservations through the hotel reservation system and The Bob Timberlake Inn do not allow pets.  VRBO rentals on resort property for individual condos could possibly allow four-legged friends if you want to stay on the resort property in a larger space. 



Pet-friendly Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC

Andy, our poodle, loved the Chetola Resort.  


I could not think of one negative con to put on the list for not making the trip. However, we did agree that if either one of us did not feel comfortable about something while staying at the resort when it came to COVID safety, we would leave even if on a press trip. 


Luckily for us, there was not one concern during our three-night stay at the Chetola Resort, and we had the best family vacation that we've had in a very long time. It was relaxing, and just like its name in the Cherokee language was meant to be,  Chetola is truly a "haven of rest." I think everyone needs to visit the North Carolina mountains and enjoy this resort in any season. 


The Chetola Lodge is my Preferred Lodging Choice



I like the location of the Chetola Lodge, which is the resort's pet-friendly option for guests. There are 42 modern, nicely decorated, and also in this building is resort ware and local sundries, including the best cider from Appalachian Mountain Brewery. The lodge is adjacent to the Bob Timberlake Restaurant, and all the resort amenities such as the indoor pool, the spa, and recreational activities ran by the hotel. 




The Bob Timberlake Inn is operated more like a Bed and Breakfast manor above the resort's restaurant in the estate's old manor house. It's a romantic hideaway for couples only featuring a complimentary cheese and wine reception plus a butler's pantry for ice cream and drinks.  The inn rooms depict artist Bob Timberlake's craftsman furnishing style and feature period furnishings from the 1920s to the 1940s. 


The Chetola Premier Condominiums make up the majority of accommodations on the scenic 78-acres. One hundred one to four-bedroom condos are individually owned, and many are available for both nightly and weekly rental through both the resort. 




Chetola Resort Condos


Condos are dotted throughout the estate, and some condos are a mile or so away from the restaurant and resort activities.  All condominium guests have access to resort amenities, but they do not have housekeeping services. In addition, condos under the resort's management are not pet-friendly. 


Check-In and Housekeeping During COVID


The Chetola resort has implemented a touchless check-in service since reopening after COVID, and the housekeeping staff does not enter your room once you have checked in. Each morning, I greeted housekeeping in the hall, got fresh towels, and replenished coffee supplies. As a result, our room was spotless, and I did not have one concern about cleanliness. 


I loved our balcony overlooking the resort lake, and all of you know that this type of vacation is my cup of tea. We are not very active. Some may call my family boring, but we had enough adventure and relaxation mixed in with this stay, and we left feeling relaxed and rested as opposed to being on the go. 


The Spa at Chetola Has Medical Grade Ventilation Fans in Treatment Rooms

Spa services are back open at Chetola. This was my first time visiting the spa on the property, even though it was my third time staying at the resort. The Chetola spa is tucked away adjacent to the indoor pool. It's full-service but small in capacity even before COVID.  In 2020, spa capacity is so low now for that safety reasons that you feel as if you have been whisked away like a Hollywood Star, and you are the only person they are pampering. The resort is spacing out their appointments, so that will be the case. It is truly a magical experience and probably at the top of my spa experience list. 


The spa at the Chetola Resort


The Chetola Resort spa menu is extensive, and they are offering their full-spa menu except for a couple massages.  Spa guests are asked to receive spa services in a mask. 


When this spa first opened, it was built as a medical-grade spa, and that is now a blessing for the resort because the ventilation is top-notch, which is another plus that makes guests feel more comfortable post-COVID.


This spa experience was so great that I think it would make the perfect girlfriend getaway for a spa weekend. Blowing Rock is known for its adorable shops, great food, and add a visit to this spa and resort, then you will have a perfect getaway. 


On-Site Chetola Resort Recreation


Archery lessons at the Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC



The Chetola Resort offers many fun activities for the family, such as campfire s'mores, paddleboat rides, archery lessons, disc golf, tennis, pickleball, lake fishing, and hiking. My family loved the archery lessons. While the girls toured all the accommodations on the property with marketing, Will and my son got in a game of disc golf.  That was also great exercise because the course took them throughout the resort's sprawling condominium area. 


The premier condo area at the Chetola Resort in Blue Ridge Mountains


Chetola Sporting Reserve


The sporting reserve within the Chetola Resort
The Chetola Resort Sporting Reserve is off-site of the main property and is about a 30-minute drive away from the resort. 

The Chetola Resort operates a state-of-the-art sporting reserve about thirty minutes away from the resort. To get there, you basically go up a mountain then back down a steep cliff. I did not visit the reserve, but Will and my son decided to reserve a spot for shooting. They loved the experience. Will thought there was a lot of value for the approximate $200 cost for the two of them. I think this activity was a highlight for some father and son bonding. Meanwhile, Andy, my daughter, and I tried the paddle boats and kayaking. 


Recreational activities at Chetola Resort


The Sporting Reserve features clay shooting, rifle and pistol range,  archery, Orvis endorsed fly fishing and special events. The sporting reserve also coordinates snow skiing, tubing, zip-lining, golf at Hound Ears Club and white water rafting. 


Timberlake's Restaurant at the Chetola Resort 

Chetola Resort Timberlake's Restaurant serving casual, comfort-style food.



I like to save the best for last when I write about hotel stays. Guests need to eat, and when a resort restaurant is good, that makes a hotel stay even better, especially in this post-COVID travel time.  For us, dining at Timberlake's was an easy choice, especially because Andy was with us on this trip.


Patio dining with a dog in Blowing Rock at Chetola Resort


 As sweet and cute as he may be, Andy is, unfortunately, a high-maintenance traveler and barks when he is left alone in a room. So we had no choice but to take him with us wherever we dined.  


Under the culinary leadership of Matt Rivers, Timberlake's restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has a very casual, comfort-food style, and Bob Timberlake, a foodie, gave his seal of approval before putting his name behind any menu item.  We ate two dinners and one lunch at the restaurant. One last dinner at the resort was a carry-out meal that we ate on our porch. 





I was extremely impressed with the food, and that's nothing new for me because when I visited the resort years ago, I felt the food was very memorable then.  I plan to share one of Matt River's recipes on this blog soon for the home chef. 


The special lunch order request for the delicious Korean BBQ short ribs


The Korean BBQ short ribs were a clear family favorite entree.  I had it with delicious collards and golden roasted potatoes. After tasting my entree, my youngest child loved the short ribs so much that we had to ask if they would make a lunch portion for her.  It's also important to note that our waitress had no idea that I was there working with the resort for an editorial review. She immediately asked the chef if that was possible. He had not even met me yet, but Chef Rivers was so thrilled that some child would want his Korean BBQ shortribs for lunch that he gave her a huge portion.


I personally think the gesture speaks volumes about the resort's customer service. Staff from housekeeping to the front desk make this resort so special. Resorts can have the most beautiful views and facilities, but a guest's stay is off if customer service is off. I feel 100 percent confident in recommending this resort to vacationers.  The  Chetola Resort is a family-owned resort, and by its customer service, it shows.  They treat their staff like family, and the attitude is passed on to its guests. 


The sesame ginger dressing was divine. It was so good that I almost licked the bowl. 


I must point out that this area of the North Carolina mountains has great food in general. Some of the meals I had at other area restaurants are some of my best-tasting meals in 2020.  Be sure to watch my live interview with Chef Matt Kelly on Timberlake's patio. He shares some hints about how he makes his Korean BBQ and the sesame dressing I adored. 


Resort Packages at the Chetola Resort 

Many resort packages are bundled together for travel savings. We experienced the resort's doggone-friendly package. At the front desk, there was a welcome sign for all the guests with four paws. Typically, pet owners are assigned to the first floor of the lodge for easy access. 




The pet fee is waived when the doggone-friendly package is active (it goes in and out on the calendar and is a popular summer package). Dogs get a complimentary bandana, leash, doggie treats, and pup bags in a cute fire hydrant dispenser. 


Dogs and humans have plenty of places to walk on the resort



Whether you escape for two nights or a week, you will fall in love with the Chetola Resort. I did. 


The Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, NC, a Western NC mountain town on the Blue  Ridge Parkway, is pet-friendly




Read some of my older Blowing Rock area posts when my kids were a lot younger. 


Check out more recent  posts about this beautiful area in the NC Mountains from my friends at NC Tripping.com

13 Wonderful Hikes Near Blowing Rock, Boone, and Banner Elk

17 Beautiful Waterfalls near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk

Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock

A Weekend in Blowing Rock: 25 Things To Do, Hotels, and More


We visited the Chetola Resort in July 2020. My editorial writing is funded through my Beautycounter affiliate website. Join my new VIP group on Facebook for Deals and Sales. It pays to shop clean. 


Fall in love with two of my favorite Beautycounter products: Vitamin C-Serum and The Overnight Resurfacing Peel


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