Monday, October 21, 2013

My neck of the woods...literally!

Today my post will be a little different from what you might usually find coming from me. I have a guest I would like to introduce to you! Several weeks ago, I received an email from a lovely young woman named Kendra Thornton. I had no knowledge of who she was, although I very well may have seen her on television as she makes her rounds on several major networks speaking about travel tips, destinations, etc. You can read about Kendra below and see her lovely face. It's quite possible you may recognize her! 


Kendra Thornton
Kendra Thornton

Travel advocate, TV spokesperson, PR businesswoman, proud wife and mama of 3. I am a long time travel expert who has been packing my bags and traveling the world since I was 3 months old! I’ve found my utmost desire in life is right here in my own home. I have taken my excitement for travel and brought it to you with some of my favorite travel tips and tricks. Enjoy! 
(Bio provided by Kendra Thornton)  

Kendra is an expert on travel, having been the Director of Corporate Communications at Orbitz prior to founding Thornton Public Relations in 2005. You can find Kendra on Twitter.

This came as quite a surprise—quite shocking, actually—that Kendra somehow came across my humble little blog and, well...I'll let her tell you how it came about.  
Hello all! My name is Kendra Thornton, and while my career has led me all over the world, there is one city I cannot help coming back to: Chicago. Whether you live in a smaller town or a big city like Chicago, we all have so many aspects of home that we love. When I came across Debby's blog, My Favorite Things, I could tell right away she was one to appreciate the beauty in everyday life in Mebane. I then reached out to her, and together we created this piece discussing what it is that we love about home., I'll start it out by sharing a little about the place that I call home.

 Mebane, North Carolina: My Favorite Things

I am not a southerner by birth. I was born and raised in Medway, Ohio, a very small community about 20 miles north of Dayton. My family and I started moving south in 1981 due to my husband being transferred within the company where he was employed. Our journey southward began in Kentucky. Some folks don’t actually consider Kentucky “the south” but in my humble opinion, if it’s below the Mason-Dixon Line, it’s the south! There, we made the small town of Mount Sterling our home for eleven years. We began our southbound migration with our two year old son in tow and our second son was born there a year later. As they grew in stature, that “twang” in their little voices became more and more apparent. I think they were just being prepared for their future. We didn’t know it then, but several years later we would relocate even further south to yet another small town, Mebane, North Carolina, where my husband and I and our oldest son currently make our homes.  

If you look at a map of North Carolina and visualize a dot right in the middle, from east to west and north to south, you’ll find it! You can easily plan a weekend getaway to the mountains or one of my favorite places, Carolina Beach. It’s so convenient to be able to get in the car and within a few hours be at your destination. Not only is this a great place to live—with its mild climate (mostly) and beautiful scenery—Mebane is also centrally located between some of the finest educational and medical institutions in this country. Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are about a forty-five minute drive west to Winston-Salem. Heading east approximately thirty miles is the University of North Carolina and UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill and Duke University and Duke Medical Center in Durham. These universities and medical facilities are known nationwide—even worldwide—as some of the finest teaching and research hospitals. Now that I have put Mebane on the map for you, I will get on to what I like best about living here.

I am not a city girl at all…even if it’s a small city. Fortunately, we found our home in a subdivision quite a ways outside of the city limits in a rural setting. The population of Mebane as of 2012 was approximately 13,000. It is a lovely little town with a very active railroad that goes right through the middle of it, running parallel with Center Street, or what some would call “the main drag”.  If you spend much time downtown, you will surely get stopped by the trains at one point in your day. If it’s the Amtrak, you won’t have a long wait—it flies through town at about 70 miles per hour. If you blink, you might just miss it! On the other hand, you may want to have a snack with you in case you have to wait on a freight train!  My home is probably about seven miles or so from the center of town but late at night, I can hear the train whistle blow in the distance. It’s a lovely, calming sound that I love hearing.

In the twenty-one years that I have called Mebane my home, most of my daily activities have been spent in the outskirts of the downtown area…other than going to and from work or occasionally dining at one of the few restaurants. Shortly after we moved here, we discovered a little piece of heaven right outside of town but still considered within the city limits. Lake Michael Park is located on 200 acres that includes the 59 acre lake named after it. The park is a picturesque and serene place to get off by yourself, go hiking on one of the trails or bring the family for a picnic and some paddle boat fun. I love it there…it’s a great place to bring your camera if you love photographing nature like I do!

The first Friday in December is always a special time in Mebane as it hosts one the most spectacular Christmas parades I have ever seen in a small town. The floats just seem to go on and on forever...or maybe it's just because the evenings when they are held are usually the coldest evenings of the entire winter! I remember spending many December evenings...all bundled up, standing and shivering with my boys when they were young so we would not miss this parade!

Bringing the Tanger Outlets to Mebane has also given our little town quite a bit of attention over the past few years. Many area residents flock to this shopping center along with those who are just passing through the area, traveling the I-85/40 corridor. It's kind of  funny actually...for some folks, all you have to do is say the word "outlet" and watch them come!

I guess you could say that Mebane is not unlike many other small towns in America. It’s the kind of town where you can walk into the local hardware store and find folks who would still rather buy what they need there—at a more expensive price—rather than drive a few miles down the road to Lowe’s and get it for less.  It’s the kind of town where everybody knows everybody and if you are new in town, they know that you are! Many of those whose careers take them into the big cities—whether it be the Greensboro or the Raleigh-Durham areas—choose Mebane as the place where they want to make their homes. Even a forty-five minute to one hour commute back and forth can be tolerated if you know that when you get home, you can just kick back and enjoy the quiet and peaceful atmosphere that comes with small town living. It isn’t quite Mayberry, but it’s pretty close to it! As for me, I am perfectly satisfied living on the outskirts. Give me a camera in my hand and a country road before me (of which there are many) and I’m good to go!


Some of My Favorite Attractions: Chicago
by Kendra Thornton

As a resident of Chicago, I understand the dilemma faced by visitors when it comes to choosing what attractions to squeeze into their all-too-brief time in this wonderful area. Having lived in the city, I have a few favorite places that I think everyone will enjoy for their thrill and their unique qualities.

The Magnificent Mile This mile-long strip of shopping centers is a luxury shopper’s dream. Located on N. Michigan Ave between Oak Street and the Chicago River, the strip contains some of the world’s finest high-end stores. New York’s Fifth Avenue and Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive cannot even begin to compare to this shopping center. The Magnificent Mile contains as many stores as you will find in any other place in the world. If you don’t believe me, come on over and see for yourself! 

Navy Pier  Navy Pier is one of my favorite places to take my kids. It is a 3,300-foot long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. The area sports a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel that is modeled after the very first Ferris wheel built in 1893! There are many other rides as well, including a hand-painted carousel. Navy Pier is right on the water and provides an awesome view of Chicago, especially from the top of the Ferris wheel. This park is sure to be fun for the entire family.

The Peninsula Hotel The Peninsula Chicago is one of my all-time favorite spots to go enjoy a day with my friends at the spa. The hotel boasts one of the best spas in the area, as well as spectacular food. The Peninsula is a located on East Superior Street, another great place in the city of Chicago. I used the site gogobot to find the Peninsula and other hotels in Chicago, because it offers reviews and great write ups. I find the area so relaxing that I often take one day of the weekend a couple times a month to come here and unwind. What with the European-style food and that outstanding spa, it is a Chicago favorite! 

Famous Pizza Chicago is known as the home of the delicious deep-dish pizza. Uno Chicago Grill invented this hearty meal. Uno Chicago Grill, commonly called Pizzeria Uno, has taken its tastes nationwide, but the best location still resides in Chicago. If you are coming to Chicago, you must try this tasty dish. You won’t find a more delectable meal! 

Now that I have told you my favorite places to visit, come and check them out for yourself! Whether you are a luxury shopper or someone who likes to eat and explore, trust me: these areas will surpass your expectations in the most surprising ways.

So...there you have it.  I have to admit that when Kendra first contacted me, I was somewhat uneasy with the whole thing. My main concern was what others would think...that maybe I was boasting or tooting my own horn, so to speak. Kendra understood  my concerns and she has graciously agreed to letting me bring this post together in my own way so it makes sense to anyone who reads my posts. I still don't know why or how she came upon my blog but I am quite humbled by it. I also appreciate her for finding something in it that she felt would appeal to her followers as well.

So, from my neck of the woods, yours....thank you, has been a pleasure!


  1. I also love your blog. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for leaving your sweet comment!

  2. What a great experience for you both!

    1. Anita...I'm not sure why she sought me out...still trying to put it in perspective :)

  3. Yeah, Don't forget our other Bloggers when you write your book!!
    If you respond to this you must email me LOL
    I love your Blog! I wanted to use one of your Fall pictures for my Blogs sidebar last week. But I didn't know if it was proper etiquette for blogs. Of course not with your logo on it, but I did Pin them :)
    Blessings, Roxy

    1. Roxy...I emailed you from my other email address since I am at work :)

  4. Well it doesn't surprise me at all that someone has discovered your genius!! You, my friend, are so very talented.....but I don't know if I want to share you with the Great job!!!

    1. Oh don't know how I struggled with this decision. I still can't figure out why someone like her would contact was such a fluke. It was really tough putting it all together and try to look like I wasn't bragging. Thank you for your sweet compliment but a genius, I'm not...don't even come close. You are sweet to say it though :)

  5. Whoooa! I was snooping around and reading old post! You are a STAR girl! Fun! How neat!


Thank you for stopping by today! Your sweet comments are such an encouragement to me.

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