Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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October 9, 2016

Local Charlotte author releases book for middle schoolers & up (moms, too!)

Kim Love Stump, a local Charlotte author is releasing her debut fantasy novel, A Clearing in the Forest, targeted for sixth grade reading level and up. We haven’t yet had a chance to read this yet, but can’t wait to get our hands on it. We are hearing fabulous things, and if your child likes Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, this should be on par with that. We’ve also been told there is nothing inappropriate for younger readers. Yay! Always what a mom wants to hear – especially if you have one that reads above grade level :-). img_3595

Kim is the ultimate Smarty mama. Originally from Asheboro, NC, she and her husband of 30-plus years and their family live in Charlotte. I met Kim years ago when she was speaking at a bible study that I was attending. She was the key note speaker and sharing some valuable truths with our group. I immediately could tell this lady was very special. She shared form the heart, but backed up everything she spoke with multiple biblical references. She knew exactly what she was talking about. I later learned Kim had her MBA and worked in finance for many years, but always had a huge love for writing and reading. I am so thrilled to see Kim pursue her love of writing in her new book, A Clearing in the Forest, the First in the Journeys from Ayrden Series. I can’t wait to read this myself although I might have to fight my 4th grader over who reads it first! Read More →

September 30, 2016

From our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library:

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Did you know that Charlotte Mecklenburg Library offers account holders free access to’s library of instructional videos? Normally, using requires a paid subscription, but Library cardholders can access content with just their library card number or ONE Access account and password.
What’s available with Over 4,000 courses in Business, Technology and Creative Skills taught by industry experts. Most tutorials last several hours but are broken into multiple chapters. Read More →

September 15, 2016

From our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: Community Read in October offers Frankenstein-themed activities for all ages

From our friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Each year, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library hosts a Community Read, in which librarians select a book to be read and discussed by everyone in the community. This year, the Community Read takes place in October, and the Library recently announced that the book adults will be reading and talking about during this spooky month will be Frankenstein, the classic novel by Mary Shelley. But it’s not just about grown-ups! Librarians have also picked age-appropriate companion titles to become the focus of fun teen and children’s activities—everyone is invited to Community Read!

The companion titles for younger readers this year are: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (for teens), The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (for children) and Frankencrayon by Michael Hall (a picture book for young readers). We’ve provided book summaries and links to the titles below. Read More →

August 28, 2016

From our friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: Reinvent yourself with your library card and Universal Class

August blog post photo

By the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Have you always wanted to learn more about aromatherapy? Need to improve your Excel skills? Want to present your best professional face at a job interview?

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library offers many free online resources to assist you in self-guided learning throughout your lifetime. If you have a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library card, you have access to Universal Class’ lifelong learning courses in over 30 subject areas, many of which offer continuing education units (CEUs). More than 500 courses are available, and all are designed and led by professional instructors to build deeper understanding and mastery of subject matter. Universal Class includes video, assignments, quizzes, tests and options for social media interaction with other learners. Students may take multiple classes and learn at their own pace.

From technical courses on computer software to digital photography to babysitting 101, a huge range of topics is available. Universal Class offers courses in Exercise and Fitness, Entrepreneurship, Arts and Music, Home and Garden care, Cooking, Computers and Technology, Health and Medicine, Homeschooling, Job Assistance, Law and Legal, Parenting and Family, Pet and Animal Care, plus hundreds more.

The classes are both self-guided and instructor-led, meaning that you can progress at your own pace, but an instructor is always available to answer questions and offer guidance. Read More →

August 13, 2016

Smarty Dad: Chic Cariaga

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
~Victor Frankl ~

You probably already know this Smarty if you frequent one of my fave coffee stops in south Charlotte. I am putting a twist on Smarty Mom Saturday today and introducing you to Chic.0810161942c

Yep, Chic.

I first met Chic earlier this year. My youngest, Grace, introduced us. Grace’s BFF’s parents tutor at Starbucks and I was dropping said BFF off after a playdate. Grace was so excited for me to meet her new buddy Chic and later asked me in secret if that was really his name. I told her that I didn’t think so and he probably doesn’t want anyone to know his real name. I was wrong, he is Chic and he holds a fascinating story.

The first thing that I loved about meeting my new friend was that he held a genuine smile. A smile that was not false, a smile that came from within, a smile that spread to others. Smiles are contagious.

He told me how he had written a book and it was about to be published. Cool. But then he told me about this book. I have always said, things happen for a reason, people are put in front of you for a reason and follow your heart.

The book: Molly the Manatee, my oldest first name, Molly, and I have been fascinated with the Manatee for many many years.

The story: A manatee’s quest for self-discovery. Molly’s adventure leads her away from her family along waterways and seaways. She interacts with all sorts of animals and eventually, she meets a wise fishing captain that helps her understand her true identity.

Over many visits for our after school “Chic Specials”, I got to know Chic better and we shared stories about one another in passing. We are far apart in age, but have a lot in common. Both from Charlotte, both attended ECU, both had connections with the Phil Hughston story.

One afternoon Grace became a little impatient while we conversed and declared to Chic, “My Mom is an artist!” He got a twinkle in his eye and proceeded to tell me about his next book about a flamingo. A flamingo, the favorite bird of my favorite 5 year old, Evie. Evie has had flamingo themed birthday parties for the past 2 years and last year I even painted Evie a flamingo to hang in her room, but I do not consider myself an “artist”. Chic wanted to see some of my work, and after a few weeks of his hounding I shared. That is how our story started…… Read More →

July 27, 2016

Smarty Giveaway and Interview: Jennifer Close’s ‘The Hopefuls’

CSP team note: This giveaway is held through Smarty Kimmery’s Web site, where she posts book reviews and author interviews. Make sure to subscribe to her newsletter to get all the latest (subscribe at the bottom of her web site). Thanks, Kimmery, for sharing the giveaway with CSP readers!

You gotta love our civil, logical political system. Wait, no! I have that exactly backwards. But here’s an unanticipated benefit to our national dysfunction: it provides for some interesting behind-the-scenes reading. Exhibit A: Jennifer Close’s fresh, smart, realistic portrayal of two young Washington couples is a must read for West Wing junkies. In the aftermath of Obama’s first campaign, newlywed Beth is reluctantly uprooted to D.C., where her husband lands an administration job. But when Beth and Matt meet a charismatic Texan couple with intense political aspirations, everything is suddenly at risk: their marriage, their careers, their friendships.The Hopefuls

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Close about her book, one of the buzziest new novels of the summer. If you’d like a FREE copy from the publisher, Penguin Random House, please visit and leave a comment at the bottom of the review of The Hopefuls. Three winners will be chosen on July 30th.

KM—Like your protagonist, you moved from New York City to Washington, D.C. resulting in an unsought exposure to the world of politics. How did your characters emerge in your imagination, and was there any concern that your acquaintances might attribute them to real people? Have you had any feedback from politicians?

JC—When my first book—Girls in White Dresses— came out, everyone assumed (as they often do about debut novelists) that it was based on me. And like most debut novelists, I had to reassure everyone: it’s fiction, it’s fiction. Because the beginning of this novel mirrored my own experience —the switch from New York to D.C., the proximity to a political campaign—I knew the same questions would come up, but the temptation to write this story was too great to ignore. I thought people would find the intricacies and backstories of D.C. to be interesting, and there’s an inherent drama in political campaigns that was too good to pass up. The novel is inspired by my move to DC, but completely fictionalized. I haven’t yet run across anyone who thinks it was about them. Read More →

July 19, 2016

From our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: You can get that at the Library?

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

You love the library. You enjoy taking your children to storytimes, appreciate the convenience of checking out materials for your entire family in one trip, and are constantly using our new website to place holds and check our updated catalog for your next favorite read. Man using a tablet computer while his girlfriend is listening to music

But, did you know that the Library also has an extensive collection of FREE digital downloads for e-readers and smartphones, including e-books, audiobooks, e-magazines, music and movies?

Here is a run-down of some of our most popular digital services and what they offer – all available for FREE with your library card:

Overdrive offers e-books, audiobooks, music and e-flicks. There are also reading rooms within Overdrive for Kids and Teen collections.

Freading  offers no waiting! This service allows for multi-user downloads so they are always available; you never have to wait for a title. Cardholders receive three downloads per week. Read More →

June 22, 2016

Smarty Steal: Half off enrollment fee through the end of June

2016JUN_JoinInJune_Friend (1)

Is it just me or are the “lazy days of summer” a complete fabrication? We’re just a couple of weeks into summer, and not only am I completely harried by the crazy schedule my kids insist on keeping :-), but I’m finding it hard to eek out the time to make it to the grocery store, let alone the farmer’s market. My kids are snacking me to death, but having fresh produce around is seriously hard to do when schedules are tight. Who has time to hit a bunch of stores? BUT, who wants to miss out on the best time of year EVER for fruits and vegetables?!

Enter the Produce Box. If you haven’t tried this home delivery produce service yet, it’s the perfect time. Not only will you have a bounty of deliciousness at your footsteps with zero effort, but you’ll be supporting 70 North Carolina farmers and getting the freshest fruits, veggies and more (local meats, chicken, cheese, bread!) – all while saving half off the annual enrollment fee through June 31, 2015. Plus, you choose what you order and you can skip a week anytime – perfect for vacation schedules.

I mean, check out this pic of what could be at your doorstep this month. Beautiful!
20150714_123747_resized Read More →

June 12, 2016

Smarty Book Review: Five Best Books of the Summer/Fall

CSP team note: We are SO proud of our very own Smarty Kimmery – she is on her way to becoming a PUBLISHED AUTHOR. Yep, her novel, Trauma Queen, is scheduled for an early 2018 release from Penguin Random House. She’s also started her very own web site,, where she posts book reviews and author interviews. Make sure to subscribe to her newsletter to get all the latest (subscribe at the bottom of her web site). The reviews in this post of yet-to-be-released books are also on her web site, and we thank her for allowing us to share it here. Kimmery – we couldn’t be prouder of you! Can’t wait to read Trauma Queen!

I won the dork lottery this year: my beloved local library system asked me to accompany them to this May’s BEA conference, held in Chicago. In case you aren’t familiar with it, BEA stands for BookExpo America, and it defines itself as the leading book and author event for the North American publishing industry. This is where you go to mingle with rock star authors, listen to the country’s best editors rhapsodize about their selections for upcoming bestsellers, and load up your suitcase with as many free ARCs (advance reader copies) of pre-release books as you can tote. (In my case, I overestimated my ability to tote them and had to borrow a warehouse cart to wheel down the street to a FedEx.) The conference takes place in a giant convention center festooned with two-story mock-ups of book covers dangling from the ceiling. Heaven.

As a reader, I loved it. As a writer, I developed a giant inferiority complex, because most of the authors who spoke were mesmerizing and self-assured to the point of seeming superhuman. I mean, didn’t we become writers in order to AVOID people? Where were the elbow-patched blazers, the spectacles, the shy, stammering nerds? These people all sounded like a cross between Stephen Colbert and Stephen Hawking. Also, many of them were quite beautiful too. I think I found my tribe.

Anyway, I loaded up with dozens of ARCs, and while I haven’t read them all yet, I started with the ones I think will be the hottest books of the year. Stay tuned next month for another list of great summer reads, and an interview with Kim Wright, author of acclaimed new release Last Ride to Graceland. Read More →

June 11, 2016

Smarty Mom: Lisa Leake

Lisa Leake Fam Cooking
Photocreds: The Beautiful Mess Photography / Dan and Candice Lanning

Smarties, it is my high honor to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Mom, Lisa Leake. Lisa is the biggest Charlotte celeb I know with over 1.6 million (that’s right, MILLION) facebook followers, 90K instagram followers, 108,000 Pinterest followers, and 25K twitter followers on her super popular food blog, She is basically a blogging and social media legend that I am proud to say “I knew her when…” I know it’s crazy to think of life before social media, but before it all happened, Lisa was happily making the cutest super hero capes for kids that I had ever seen (Lisa, my boys LOVED their “fliggity” monogrammed capes back in the day:-) Now Lisa is a social media icon, a food industry influencer, change-maker and soon-to-be two time published author of delicious and healthy cookbooks. Trust me, you’re going to want to buy these for everyone you know after you read the first chapter. And throw everything out of your fridge and start over!

What started as a 100-day pledge for Lisa’s family to eat healthy and most importantly, understand what is in the food her family put in their mouths, turned into a movement that is making amazing changes in the food served to millions of people today. Yep, Lisa is that kind of Smarty. Determined, influential, powerful, passionate – Lisa is a gem and we are so lucky and proud to have her with us here in the Queen City.

Let’s get to know the one and only, amazing Lisa Leake! Read More →

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