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


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. 

  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

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

Roasted Beet Salad: A Recipe that will Wow Guests

Updated July 2021: A lot changes through the years when you have a blog, but the best way to roast beets has not.  I still use Jimmy Reale's method for roasting beets. Chef Reale's beets still are in my top spot for a beet salad recipe. Chef Reale has since departed from the Carolina Inn's restaurant but remains in the Chapel Hill area specializing in food distribution to area restaurants. Enjoy this recipe.  

This roasted beet salad will please even the non-beet fan at your kitchen table.

Executive Chef Jimmy Reale
Carolina Crossroads Restaurant in 2012

As you read on Wednesday, I attended a special dinner to preview the new Spring Menu for Carolina Crossroads Restaurant and Bar.  The Forbes Four-star-ranked restaurant, under the leadership of Executive Chef Jimmy Reale, is located inside the beautiful, charming, and historic Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

My husband and I loved every dish Chef Reale put in front of us.  I am especially fond of beets, so I was particularly excited to see a roasted beet salad on the menu.  If I see beets on a fine dining menu, you can pretty much bet that I will order them because I rarely do anything with the root vegetable at home.  Will is not really a fan of beets, or at least that is what he thought until he tasted Chef Reale’s Roasted Beet Salad, which is currently being offered as an appetizer on the spring menu.  

Several times a week, you will find Executive Chef Jimmy Reale at the local farmer’s market. His menus reflect his desire to provide light, fresh, flavorful dishes in which he can access and use local products. He also aspires to infuse Southern dishes with his Lebanese-Italian heritage, describing them as “distinctly Southern with Mediterranean undertones.”

 Roasted Baby Beets, Blood Orange, Grilled Lavash, Local Micros,
Hillsborough Goat Cheese, Broken Vinaigrette

Executive Chef Jimmy Reale
From the Kitchen of Carolina Crossroads
Serves 4
4ea        Baby Red Beets
4ea        Baby Yellow Beets
15ea      Sprigs of fresh thyme
1ea        Blood Oranges, Peeled and cut into segments
1ea        5x5 piece of Lavash
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 ½ c     Micro Greens
2 oz       Goat Cheese

Broken Vinaigrette
1c             Balsamic Vinegar
1/4c       Sugar
1 c         Fresh Basil
¾ c        Neutral Oil

1.     Place thyme in two separate small pans and place the red beets in one and yellow beets in the other. Drizzle the beets with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and salt& pepper. Roast in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Once they have cooled off, remove the skins and cut into pieces being sure to keep red and yellow beets separate.

2.     Cut the lavash into four pieces, soak in extra virgin olive oil then remove as much oil as possible. Place lavash on grill and cook until crisp on both sides.

3.     Place balsamic vinegar and sugar in small pan and bring to a slow simmer.  Reduce vinegar by half, remove from heat and cool completely

4.     Place basil and oil in a blender and puree for 2 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer.
5.     Pour the oil and balsamic syrup together in the same bowl

1.     In a large bowl mix the microgreens, beets, and blood oranges with two tablespoons of the broken vinaigrette and salt & pepper to taste. Be sure to stir the broken vinaigrette with a spoon before putting it on the salad.
2.     Divide the salad and lavash between the four plates. Top the salads with the goat cheese and drizzle the broken vinaigrette around the plate.

Carolina Crossroads Restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere.  If you ever travel to the Tar Heel State, I hope you visit the Carolina Inn.   In the meantime, you can enjoy a little taste of The Carolina Inn at home.

Related Posts:
Pack Your Bags: We're Heading to the Carolina Inn

5 Easy Pasta Recipes Using Alfredo Sauce

Updated: May 2021. As I update my blog archives, it is easy to notice a pattern in my parenting. I was always looking for something to make for dinner that my kids would eat.  It's odd.  When they were younger, they were more daring at the dinner table than they are now.  They would at least try something that I put in front of them to taste. That five-year-old pictured below will soon be a sophomore in high school. It pains me to admit that he absolutely hates my cooking in 2021, aside from a few things.  

One thing that has not changed, though, is his taste for alfredo sauce.  If I serve alfredo "something," then I know he will eat it.  Meanwhile, my soon-to-be-middle schooler will not eat alfredo sauce at all these days.  When it comes to this updated 2021 Garden Chicken Alfredo Recipe

Garden alfredo recipe that will have your kids eating the rainbow and asking for more.

I saute her chicken with souvlaki seasoning and butter.  She gets plain pasta while the rest of us eats this classic Alfredo chicken recipe that I can prepare in less than twenty minutes. One item you need in your kitchen, though, is an Epicure Steamer. And it will change dinnertime for the better, especially if you have little ones like I did in 2011.  I really wish I had that silicone cookware item in my kitchen back then.  

Do you ever come home and say, “What can I cook tonight?” Do you then dig into your pantry or freezer to see what you can find to cook? Or are you a meal planner that has a calendar with that night’s meal listed on it?  I prefer to plan meals, but I must confess I have an unusual way of going about it.  Most people probably wouldn’t opt for my plan.  Let’s look at last week as a typical example of how meal planning goes in my house.

On this particular day, I was about ten minutes away from needing to leave my house to arrive at my massage appointment on time. The massage was a much-needed gift from my husband and children. Coincidentally, the appointment happened to be next to the Trader Joes in my area. Since this would be my opportunity to go grocery shopping child-free, I put on my coat and scarf, grabbed a pencil, paper, and started writing down the items I needed to make one or two meals that I’ve made so frequently that I know exactly what I need off the top of my head.  I also picked out three cookbooks from my very crowded recipe book cupboard and opened the books I picked on the kitchen counter.  I flipped through the pages and waited for recipes to say, “Make me!”

a rainbow of bell peppers which are great in alfredo sauce

This haphazard menu planning is my way of trying new recipes, and it is also why my husband says that he rarely sees the same thing twice on our table unless it becomes part of the coveted “What can I fix quickly” menu file.  Those are my "Go-To" recipes that I can recite by heart.  With just six minutes to spare before I needed to leave, I came across a recipe my friend, Betty Crocker, had given me when I got married but never made.

I thought, “This is perfect! I can find all of these items at Trader Joe's.  And I’m going to add this and that."

kid-friendly foods

If you have ever read any parenting food websites or even nutritional sites, it will tell you that you need to try to eat a rainbow color of fruits and vegetables daily. I’m really optimistic and all, but it’s hard for me to see a rainbow daily on our table.  At one given time, I may have blueberries, bananas, apples, frozen green beans, kiwi, broccoli, carrots, and some corn in my house, but I certainly don’t serve them all in one day. We tend to eat two or maybe three colors in a rainbow a day, and sometimes, some colors are totally left out weeks at a time. I feel as if I"m denying my family a whole rainbow.   Shame on me!

I’ll be the first to tell you, I love fruits and vegetables.  My Grandma Powell, whom you heard about earlier this week, had a large garden.  She would cook about eight to ten vegetables a day. No joke!  Her spread of turnips, turnip greens, eggplant, sweet corn, field peas, green peas, and carrots daily created a table rainbow-like something in the "Wizard of Oz."

I don't cook like a grandma, so you can imagine my excitement when I found the idea for a “rainbow connected” meal. Since I created this meal by taking ingredients from several sources,  I  renamed this colorful dish “Rainbow Inspired Capellini with Alfredo Sauce. ” Isn’t that chic?  It’s basically my version of pasta primavera with alfredo sauce bought from Trader Joe's, but those who know me well know that I like to name things from my daughter’s baby dolls to random stray cats see on my travels. Hence, renaming a recipe is only natural in this case. 

kids like the creaminess of alfredo sauce

I must warn you now that when I put my new culinary rainbow in front of my five-year-old, he said, “That looks YUCKY!” Sometimes you just want to put tape over a food critic’s mouth!!

However, I quickly said, “Well, it is Kermit the Frog’s favorite meal.”  If you’re old enough to remember the Muppets, then you may just be humming his little famous song.  Am I right?

My strength may not be in food presentation, but this pasta dish tasted good.  JH ate most of it, and my daughter liked it, too. The Alfredo sauce may have been a little rich for her, but I bought a lighter version with about 90 calories per ¼ cup. Since it came from Trader Joe's, it was free of preservatives and healthier than some other processed versions, but you can use any store-bought sauce of your choosing.  (In 2021, I now use Epicure's gluten-free Alfredo Sauce  Mix. You can control the sodium with this sauce mix, and there are NO preservatives at all.)

If your kids eat Alfredo Sauce, then the meal choices are endless.  Here are a few of my family favorites: 

stuffed carbonara chicken alfredo shells

garden vegetables with alfredo pasta

      I use frozen salmon fillets that I buy from Whole Foods. 

bow-tie alfredo salmon


This is a very simple Betty Crocker Recipe, and of course, in 2021, now that I have discovered            Epicure, I use its jarred taco seasoning.  It is more economical than the packets in the grocery store and better for your health with less sodium. This seasoning has some heat to it which works great when you pair it with the alfredo sauce. 

Add some heat to alfredo sauce with a taco pasta mix.

Denise Austin's Alfredo Pasta tossed with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil. 

This recipe is a take on the Garden Pasta recipe from above, but even more simple.  Add halved cherry tomatoes to the alfredo sauce and toss with pasta and basil.  It is delicious. This is a Denise Austin recipe I've been making for years. 

Classic Fettucine Alfredo tossed with basils and tomatoes

5 Easy Pasta Recipes Using Alfredo Sauce

Post contains affiliate links. 

Chip and Joanna Gaines Worthy: North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale Event Held Every June

Updated May 2021.  The 301 Endless Yard Sale in NC is back after a COVID hiatus. This story originally ran in 2016. The 2021 Endless Yard Sale will be held on June 18 and June 19 on a 100 mile stretch of highway. 

Ashby Brame, Director of Marketing for the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, mentioned, “Historically, the 301 Endless Yard Sale attracts people from all over the country and as far away as Canada. If the sale had happened last year, then this year would mark year 10… a decade of deals, unique finds, treasures, and more!”

Whether people are looking for something particular or they’re just looking for an Americana road trip full of vintage shopping, local restaurants, and interesting attractions, the 100+ miles of the 301 Endless Yard Sale has something for everyone. Explore Halifax, Nash, Wilson, Johnston, and Harnett county; shop north to south, south to north, or start in the middle and pick a direction. 

Are you a fan of Fixer Upper?  Seeing one show was all it took, and I'm obsessed with the couple like the rest of the country. In one of the episodes, I saw Chip and Joanna Gaines go to a yard sale and search for unwanted treasures. What Joanna does to her unique finds is utterly amazing. 

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June.

North Carolina may be too far for the Gaines to travel to find some used treasures to repurpose, but others are certainly heading our way in a couple of weeks for North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale. It is held in five counties down Highway 301 for a 100-mile stretch on Friday and Saturday in June. 

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June.

In some ways, this highway is like the iconic Route 66 minus the teepee hotels and instead replaced with a giant snowcone building that serves us some great snowballs. 

Cute, Snowball place off of 301 in Smithfield, N.C.
Hills of Snow is located off of Highway 301 in Smithfield. 

Highway 301 used to be the main route to Florida before I-95 was built. When that busy Interstate was built, travelers could get where they wanted much quicker. Still, at the same time, travelers had to say goodbye to passing through quaint Southern towns like Roanoke Rapids, Wilson, Rocky Mount, Selma, Smithfield, Benson, and Dunn. 

Four years ago, Johnston County started this sale because Selma, North Carolina, is known for its antiques, and it was a great way to get traffic back to these small, rural towns with charm and charisma.  

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June 17-18.

The first-yard sale was a success and snowballed, so to speak. It now stretches across five North Carolina counties and 100 miles. Vendors across the country come out to share their finds, and people with talent like the Gaines are coming to North Carolina to repurpose these rare finds. 

I find this repurposing interesting. I turned to a couple who have the blog The Navage Patch to ask them how pros go about events like this. I really wouldn't know where to begin, but they do it with a mission in mind as a couple, just like the Gaines. 

Greg and Handan of the Navage Patch

Greg is a woodworker, and his wife, Handan, is a crafter and painter.  They each look for different things at yard sales, flea markets, garage sales, and antique shops. 

Greg says, "Since Handan is the crafter and the painter, she is interested in all things, big and small. She looks for pieces with beautiful lines and curves, and ornate embellishments. For her, material and finish are not as important as shape. A piece made from junky wood is as compelling as one made from something nicer, as she would anyway fix the imperfections and hide everything under a few coats of chalk paint. She also looks beyond a piece’s intended purpose (chair, dresser, bowl, etc.) to see new possibilities (a tiered stand made from a table leg, a jewelry carousel made from a cabinet door, etc.). 

Repurposing antiques
See how Handan took an old toolbox and turned it into a planter. 

Meanwhile, Greg has his eye on different pieces when he goes to events like the 301 Endless Yard Sale,  "I’m looking for pieces with interesting wood grain or exotic veneers. Whenever possible, I like to preserve the wood – clean it, stain it (or leave it alone), and finish it with polyurethane. I generally focus on furniture and larger pieces. Often a piece will have excellent wood on some part, say the top of a table, but the legs might be ho-hum. In that case, I would paint the legs but preserve the wooden top. I love to mix painted and natural wood – the effect can be striking. Occasionally I will re-imagine the piece. I am currently working on an antique maple dresser that I’m turning into a wine bar. Though it is an antique, nothing special about it – nothing to make me want to restore it. It was made from good solid maple, but it was a plain and utilitarian piece of furniture. None of the wood is interesting enough to showcase, so that whole piece will be painted, except for a mahogany bar top I made from the remains of another antique dining table."

Repurposing furniture
You will not believe what this desk looked like before Greg worked his magic as well as Handan
Greg and Handan have a unique story behind their blog, and who knows,.....HGTV may come calling one day just like they did with the Gaines. After I post this story, they may put North Carolina on their list to visit next June. 

Here's a Quick #OutaboutNC Guide to Help You Navigate the 301 Endless Yard Sale 

Starting Point  or Ending Point on Highway 301: Halifax County

Begin or end your adventure at Riverside Mill in Weldon. You will find over one-half acres of gleaming Antiques.  Vendors will be set up in their parking lot and down the road on the banks of the Roanoke River at River Falls Park.

North Carolina's 301 Endless Yard Sale will stretch 100 miles and five counties in June.

Keep heading south on 301, and you will arrive in Enfield. There you will find several vendors, and the locals recommend Jennie’s Beans & Buns as a great place to grab a cool drink or lunch. 

Nash County (Rocky Mount, N.C.)

Vintage Signs are popular at the 301 Endless Yard Sale
Vintage signs are also popular finds on the 301 Endless Yard Sale. Photo from Tar Heel Flea Market. 

In Rocky Mount, N.C., you can stop at the Purple Petal and Tar Heel Flea Market. If hungry, stop at this historic staple, The Central Cafe on Church Street. I've eaten here, and it's classic grilled cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, and cheap breakfast—a greasy spoon at its best. 

Wilson County (Wilson, N.C )

Wilson is known for Whirligigs
A Whirligigs. A lot can be found in Wilson.

Wilson is known for the large kinetic sculptures that move with the wind called "Whirligigs" - a park is being built in historic downtown Wilson which currently houses 16, and 31 will be in place by June 2017 for the completion of the park.  

Like fried chicken and BBQ? You are in luck. Wilson has Parker's Barbecue on Highway 301, almost across from the County Fairgrounds, where many of the 301 Endless Yard  Sale Vendors will be set up while in town. 

The Beefmaster Inn in Wilson is known for its steaks.
The Beefmaster Inn in Wilson, N.C. 

Antique dealers are located up and down the 301 area of Wilson. Boone's Antiques, Boykin Antiques, Church Street Galleries, and Langston Antiques are a few well-known establishments.  In the mood for a steak, then you'll be in for a treat at the Beefmaster Inn located on Highway 301.  The place is tiny. It will be hard to get a table.  It's not fancy, but you can bet it will be a steak just like my Daddy grilled. It's a Wilson staple. 

 Johnston County (Selma, Smithfield, and Benson)

The 301 Endless Yard Sale began in Johnston County four years ago. Selma, N.C. is in the heart of the sale and is considered the halfway point for many visitors.  Johnston County will have 30 miles of pure yard sale goodness from Kenly to Benson. 

I think one thing is for sure in the South, no one will go hungry. Here.  As for local places with flair, Kenly has Stormin' Norman's BBQ.  Hills of Snow is a must-stop to cool off.  Holt's Lake is between Smithfield and Four Oaks - is another well-known BBQ restaurant in the area. Four Oaks, N.C is known for Stanfield's General Store; it's a vintage general store with glass soda bottles sold out of a cooler and snacks.  They also sell local arts and crafts.  In Benson, you will not want to miss Glenda's Sweet Shop, a local ice cream place, and they will be serving treats to cool off and welcoming vendors into their parking lot.

Ending Point or Starting Point: Harnett County (Dunn, N.C.)

It will take you three to four hours to go the entire route.  This Endless Yard Sale shopper FAQ can answer any questions you may have about the event. 

Sherry's Bakery, Homemade Doughnuts in Dunn.
Homemade Doughnuts and  Antiques A Good Combo.  Sherry's Bakery in Dunn. 

 Broadstreet Deli and Market and Sherry's Bakery are two local, well-recommended places to grab a bite. Sherry is known for her homemade doughnuts. She also has fried okra as a side on her lunch and dinner menu. She's a woman after my own heart. I'm taking a field trip to Dunn this summer just for the fried okra. 

Visit the 301 Endless Yard Sale Website for more vendor information. 

Antiques and Treasures Found in the 301 Endless Yard Sale in NC

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