S’more Bars Recipe

Smores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Collaboration is a key element to my business that not only makes it fun and interesting but also rewarding. I love learning about other people and discovering and bouncing ideas around to create something that doesn’t yet exist. Now that the dust is starting to settle from making Gather Studios into a beautiful, functional space, I’ve been thinking of ways I could collaborate even further with the other studio tenants that are here alongside me, and in ways we can share those collaborations with you.

S'mores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

There are so many talented people in this shared office building doing really interesting things, Megan of Triangle Pastry Company is just one of them. She specializes in no-frills, seasonally inspired menu of sweet and savory treats. She sells them locally at the Apex Farmers Market as well as the Wake Med Farmers Market. She also delivers throughout the Triangle and her items are available to pickup by appointment here at Gather as well.

Megan Crist, Triangle Pastry Co | Photography by Michelle Smith, Gather Goods Co
I had asked Megan if she would make some treats for our Grand Opening celebration a few weeks ago and she showed up with among other things, a pan full of a creation she had invented called a S’mores Bar. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. Seriously, if you are local, you need to get some of her foods, they are that good.

S'mores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Meanwhile, the two of us will be sharing a recipe here once a month with me photographing and styling it and her writing and sharing the recipe.

Michelle Smith, Food Stylist, Raleigh, NC, Gather Goods Co

I’ve got more fun collaborations coming up here too in the future so keep your eyes out for that. I’ll let Megan take it away from here:

S'mores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Here’s Megan:

Summertime nights in the South are the stuff of nostalgia… full of barefoot potluck BBQs, glittering with lightning bugs, tiki torches, local beer, and backyard games. I grew up playing badminton, croquet, baseball, and volleyball while my dad ran the grill and my mom… well, basically did everything else (you know how that goes). After dinner, my brother and I hunted for the perfect marshmallow skewer sticks in the woods, and my dad carved the ends into little points with a pocket knife. Roasting those gelatinous, sugary jet puffs over an open flame, then peeling off that one blackened side, was the highlight of warm weather cuisine for me. When we got out the Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers and a couple of Hershey’s chocolate bars, I was a happy camper.

S'mores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Then I grew up, learned how to bake, and (sadly) couldn’t have a grill on my apartment patio. Enter S’more Bars. These are the perfect potluck dessert… they’re easily transportable and can be cut to almost any size to serve as many people as you need. Bonus: they’re a little bit gooey, without having to be kept warm.

I’m just going to channel Ina Garten right here and say, if you can’t be bothered to make your own graham crackers, store-bought is fine. If you do want to make your own honey grahams, though, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

TIME: 1 Hour

TOOLS:

  • kitchen scale
  • food processor
  • s-blade
  • stand mixer
  • whisk attachment
  • mixer bowl with handle
  • small pot
  • medium pot
  • small aluminum bowl
  • fine mesh sieve
  • chef’s torch
  • 12”x16” sheet pan (x2)
  • parchment paper
  • large (12”) whisk
  • silicone spatula
  • offset spatula
  • measuring spoons
  • liquid measuring cup
  • paring knife

INGREDIENTS

BASE:

  • 12 ounces graham crackers
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 ounces butter, melted

FILLING:

  • 1 pound chocolate (Note: dark chocolate flavor comes through stronger than milk chocolate.)
  • 4 ounces heavy cream

MARSHMALLOW TOPPING:

  • 7 egg whites
  • 14 ounces sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

METHOD

To Make the Graham Cracker Base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 12×18 sheet pan with parchment paper. DO NOT USE A SILPAT! I REPEAT, DO NOT USE A SILPAT if you will be cutting the bars in the pan (which is what I recommend).
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Grind together the graham crackers, sugar, salt, and cinnamon, in a food processor as finely as possible. Stream in the melted butter.
  5. Turn the mixture out onto the sheet pan and spread it evenly over the surface. Press firmly into place so that there are no loose crumbs. Pressing another pan of the same size on top of the mixture helps to ensure a level crust.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time.
  7. Remove from oven, and immediately press the crust firmly into the pan again with another sheet pan. It will be hot, so take care to keep your fingers insulated with a dry towel or potholder.
  8. Set aside to cool while you make the chocolate filling.

S'mores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

To Make the Chocolate Filling:

  1. Place chocolate and cream in a double boiler over a pot of simmering water. If you don’t have an actual double boiler, just use a small aluminum bowl set over the top of a small saucepan. This is what I use, because… convenience.
  2. Stir gently as the chocolate melts.
  3. Once you have a uniform consistency, hold the fine mesh sieve over the graham cracker crust and pour the chocolate filling through the sieve onto the base.
  4. Spread the chocolate evenly over the surface of the base with the offset spatula.
  5. Rinse the spatula (you will use it for the marshmallow topping) and allow the chocolate to set while you make the marshmallow topping.

Making Whipped Cream Topping

To Make the Marshmallow Topping:

This is a basic Swiss meringue. If you’re into cakes, you might have your own recipe that I’m sure would work just fine. You can also swap other flavors in place of or in addition to the vanilla. Orange zest, cardamom, anise, chili powder, mint, espresso powder, you name it.

  1. Fill a medium pot with about one or two inches of water, and bring to a simmer.
  2. Mix the cream of tartar, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of the stand mixer. This bowl must be completely clean and dry for optimal development.
  3. Add the egg whites to the sugar mixture, and whisk to incorporate.
  4. Set the mixer bowl over the medium pot of simmering water and whisk continuously.

*I recommend a bowl with a handle, because it makes it easy to keep the bowl from spinning obnoxiously in this step, without steam-burning your fingers.

  1. After a couple minutes, when the mixture starts to thicken and begins to turn opaque versus translucent, use the back of a spoon to extract a tiny amount. Feel the texture. If the sugar is not dissolved, keep whisking for another minute. It should feel silky-smooth, with no sandy sugar bits remaining.
  2. When your sugar is dissolved, turn off the burner, remove the mixer bowl from the pot, and lock it onto the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You may want to use a towel or potholder, because the bowl will be hot.
  3. Whip the whites on medium-high (KitchenAid Speed 7 or 8) until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch, about ten minutes. At this point, there should be nice firm peaks when you remove the whisk from the bowl and it should make a distinctive smacking sound. Add the vanilla bean paste and incorporate.
  4. Check to make sure the chocolate is set before you start plopping the marshmallow on top. If it is firm to a gentle touch, go ahead and dump the meringue out of the bowl.
  5. Use swooping motions to spread the meringue over the entire surface of the bar. It is pretty forgiving, so you can push it around a bit until you get a look that you like. You could also use a pastry bag with fancy tips to pipe designs, if that’s your style.
  6. The last step is torching the meringue. You’ll get that nice toasted marshmallow effect. Follow the manufacturer instructions on your kitchen torch, but four to six inches between the meringue and the torch is generally a reliable distance for me.

Slice into 24 bars and use a square spatula to lift and serve.These should store well in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days, but I have to be honest, they have never stayed around longer than a potluck dinner for me to tell.

S'mores Bar Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Recipe by Megan Crist, Triangle Pastry Co. Food Photography & Styling by Michelle Smith, Gather Goods Co.

Piet Oudolf, Four Season Gardener of The High Line

The other day I was able to catch the documentary Five Seasons on legendary gardener Piet Oudolf, who notably envisioned the meadow-like plantings on NYC’s The Highline and who owns Future Plants, a perennial plant nursery and breeder in the Netherlands.

What was very apparent from the documentary was how intentional and planned his work is, but also his deep reverence for seeing how that design plan compliments and goes hand in hand with nature’s own process. His color palettes are notable with deep burgundy’s, grays and beige punctuated with pops of brighter color, and as the title suggests, beautiful in all four seasons. His gardens have a focus on structural plants that are sturdy throughout weather changes, use a lot of repetition, and a diverse array of plants that give the impression of a wild meadow but would never actually be found together in the wild.

Piet Oudoulf Garden | Gather Goods Co

Piet Oudoulf Garden | Gather Goods Co

I am personally inspired by the intersection of landscape design with man-made architecture and environments and always head straight to the parks of every city I visit. I have been to Lurie Garden, one of his projects in Chicago, and especially loved the way the plantings there lead your eyes right to the modern building behind it.

Piet Oudoulf Garden | Gather Goods Co

Piet Oudoulf Garden | Gather Goods Co

Below is the trailer for the documentary. What are some of the most inspiring gardens you have visited?

Daytrip to Pittsboro, North Carolina

One of my favorite things to do is to take a drive to a place a little off the beaten path and just see where I land. Recognizing that my tween daughter didn’t have camp for the next few weeks and trying to prevent us from both going stir-crazy (library books and staying at home were only going to go so far) I started thinking of things we could do together that were outside of our usual routine and not just the typical museums that we often turn to on these occasions. My daughter has grown up traveling and really enjoys these sort of exploratory outings just as much as my husband and I.

Even now that she is probably getting too old to use this phrase, I still tell her we are putting on our “explorer hats” which means I really don’t know what we’ll discover and find, it’s new to me too, and we are just checking it out. That seems to appease her for the most part generally and she stops whining as much about “where are we going”.

On this particular outing we landed in downtown Pittsboro, NC about a half-an-hour by car away from where we live in downtown Cary.

Screaming for Vintage, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

I knew the downtown had just one main street with a few small shops on it so that’s where I headed. About five minutes before we got to the downtown it started pouring rain and I wondered if it wasn’t the best day to go out, but when we pulled into the one open parking spot the rain had turned into a slow drizzle and the sun came out. We ducked our way to the end of the street at the first place that looked interesting: a vintage shop called Screaming For Vintage. Immediately I was transported to the town I grew up in where I used to scour antique stores on the regular and admire the old storefronts. Screaming for Vintage has high ceilings and beautiful brick walls and glass windows. My daughter loved checking out all the sparkly vintage dresses, the hats and the creepy mannequins. I loved feeling like I was in high school again.

Screaming for Vintage, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Usually when I go to a new place I ask them for recommendations on where to go. The shop owner at Screaming for Vintage said that Pittsboro is really a weekend town and mentioned the Carolina Tiger Rescue Center (we’d save that for another day) and just checking out the shops on the street we were on. She also mentioned two spots for lunch, one that she said closed at 2pm, but the food was amazing, and a bakery, also with amazing food. We decided to pocket those recommendations for after we checked out the other shops on the street.

Antique Store in Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

On our walk we went inside a hippie-dippy gift shop called New Horizons Trading Co complete with Dansko shoes, linen apparel and quirky joke gifts. Here my daughter found some lego contact lens cases that she thought would be perfect for her dad and also decided that at some future date she wanted a pair of clogs.

The next stop was an antique store called Reclamation Home Furnishings where, as with all antique stores, I had to look at every item and contemplate its origins, its design, its usefulness, where it lived before it came to live in this antique shop, and so on. I’m glad I’ve found a willing accomplice in my daughter because it’s not for everyone (ahem, my husband). I found a vintage blue metal toolbox that I was *this* close to buying for organizing assorted tool sundries, but then I remembered we live in a tiny house and just don’t have room for extra things these days. This is actually a good problem to have when you are a magpie and it’s really helped me to clarify and edit down to the things I really love.

After that shop we popped our heads into the Pittsboro Youth Theater where we were enthusiastically greeted and given a quick tour and shown their “pirate camp” in action, as well as their two (pretty professional) recording studios and the ship that campers created for their upcoming Peter Pan production.

Then we stumbled into Circle City Books & Music, the dreamiest used book/music store complete with a lush sidewalk garden overflowing with blooming annuals and Leonard Cohen playing on the speakers – talk about high school reminiscing and all the feels. My daughter was just as smitten as we went from room to room eyeing books from floor to ceiling. We each walked away with a few treasures: her a Dork Diaries book and the coveted next Harry Potter book in the series, and me with a Scandinavian baking cookbook.

Used Book Display in Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Circle City Books, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Past that and a block away we landed at French Connections, a shop with a yard full of tin animal sculptures, a porch overflowing with African market baskets and an interior where every square inch is covered with imported fabrics, drums, African masks and other accessories in an eclectic and completely unique assortment.

French Connection, Baksets on Wall, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

French Connections, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

French Connections, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

We made our way down the other side of the street and popped into the country-music loving Deep River Mercantile and I snapped a picture of this corner moment, while my (getting hungry at this point) daughter quickly ushered me out.

Totes | Gather Goods Co

We wanted to take these stairs that seemed to go nowhere but in actuality went to the SG Music Co Violin and Fiddle Shop. Ultimately, we decided that it might be awkward inside with just us, so we admired the stairs as a novelty and moved on.

Stairs to Nowhere, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

We spotted a woodworking / tool sharing shop called The Woodwright School. And then being about 1:30pm it was lunch time.

The Woodwright Shop, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co
This is the part of the trip where despite already reveling in the quaintness of small town living, our minds were really blown. We decided to go to the “Small B&B Cafe” that was recommended and as we pulled in, I knew we had made the very best decision. Driving into the driveway I felt like we weren’t in the Triangle area anymore but somewhere we had traveled to as a destination spot on a vacation somewhere more exotic. There was a patio filled with outdoor tables, a trio of small buildings made from salvaged materials, which you can actually rent out as a vacation stay, and a “Small Museum of Folk Art” inside another. There is something so amazing about discovering a place that feels special and spectacular and not having heard about it before.

Small Museum of Folk Art, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Small Museum of Folk Art, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Naturally, we decided to check out the tiny folk art museum first and it didn’t disappoint. A friendly, little white cat followed us up the walkway and into the building which was bright and light-filled and covered floor to ceiling in inspiring and colorful folk art pieces. The walls themselves had their own unique pattern to them and embedded in the back wall were the words “Folk Museum” in wood as well, but all painted in white so it was a subtle touch.

Small Museum of Folk Art, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Small Museum of Folk Art, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

Small Museum of Folk Art, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

I am still in awe and can’t wait to go back with my husband and others. This place is truly a hidden gem and worth the drive if you are in the Triangle area, a must visit, that again, I can’t believe I had never heard of before.

The Small Folk Art Museum, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co

The Small Folk Art Museum, Pittsboro, NC | Gather Goods Co
After the museum we grabbed a bite at their Small B&B Cafe, a farm to table restaurant where the owners are there taking your order. I had a perfect-at-this-season BLT and my daughter had a custardy french toast which she declared as delicious. Across the street I spotted this tin roofed beauty of a house and then we headed back home.

Country Home | Gather Goods Co
Other recommended spots that we didn’t get a chance to check out this go-round were: The Phoenix Bakery, S&T Soda Shoppe (for their banana splits, sundaes and Coke floats) & Oakmoss Attic. I have also gotten a massage a few years ago at The Spa at Bell House and I remember it as having a roaring fire and warmed blankets – I must have gone near my birthday in the late Fall. Also worth noting if you are headed this way from the Triangle, NC area is one of the Jordan Lake access points that boasts a beautiful rocky beach. I can’t remember which access point it is, only that it is off of highway 64 on the way to and very near to Pittsboro but not the sandy beach that most people are familiar with.

This is definitely a trip I will be taking again soon with some friends and family. Is there anything I missed? What else would you recommend in or around Pittsboro?

Gather Studios, Grand Opening, Maker Pop Up in Garden

I am happy to say that all seven offices in the new Gather Studios space are filled with a wonderful mix of tenants, each of which are business owners. I will hopefully post more about that (and them) at a later date but for now wanted to share about the grand opening and some of the makers that I will have popped up in the back garden.

I have been spending the past few months upfitting the space and getting it geared up to host classes, events and to function as the showroom of the relaunching soon online shop. One of the key differences I was seeking out the most compared to the other Gather spaces was a private office for myself, outdoor and bigger classroom space again, a focus again on community and shared spaces, and a showroom versus an open all the time retail store. I have achieved that with the new space and it feels like I’ve landed on the winning solution after years of editing and refining and of course a year long break to figure out what I really wanted. I also adore being in what feels like a small town where I can walk from my home to here and be a part of a close-knit community but also very close to Raleigh as well.

Gather Goods Co Grand Opening

It feels like now is as good a time as any to host a grand opening event to celebrate this special space, and it lights a fire under me to wrap up a lot of the open ended projects that I’ve been working on non-stop in getting a space up and running again. There are so.many.details. and I seem to always forget that, rose colored glasses and all, but the effort is always worth it in the end, when the space comes to life and functions as I’ve envisioned it and feels like a cozy, serene and inspiring spot for myself and others to interact with and work out of.

To celebrate on Thursday July 19th from 7-9pm I am hosting a maker pop up in the back garden featuring a handful of talented makers, The Humble Pig food truck will be here, Pharmacy Bottle & Beverage will be serving beer and wine, there will be live music and everything in the showroom (lots of new items for the relaunching that day online shop) will be 20% off. Fun!

The new space is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road, downtown Cary, NC 27511. There is a big parking lot across the street for the Cary Arts Center as well as Cary Elementary and this is where I would encourage you to park. You can find more information at the facebook invitation here.

Below are highlights from the makers who will be in the back garden selling their wares (and there may be a few others joining in as well)

Derek Keller, 440 Gentleman Supply, Leathercraft, Raleigh, NC - Gather Goods Co

Derek Keller of 440 Gentleman Supply makes handmade leather goods like bags, wallets and other accessories from his garage studio in Raleigh. Everything he makes is hand cut, sewn and produced by him and is inspired by modern architecture and vintage motorcycles and gear. He learned how to craft from his parents and recently took his craft full-time.

440 Gentleman Supply Leather Bag, Raleigh, NC, Maker - Gather Goods Co

Liz Esser, Haden Designs - Raleigh, NC Maker - Gather Goods Co

Liz Esser of Haden Designs in Raleigh specializes in brass and leather jewelry and seeks to create pieces that give that feeling of unique beauty to their wearer. Some of her newest pieces combine intricate metal patterns and textile weaving and all are in lovely muted shades that are reminiscent of autumn.

Haden Designs, Brass & Leather Earrings, Raleigh, NC Maker | Gather Goods Co

Erica Gimson, Textile Designer, Raleigh, NC | Gather Goods Co

Erica Gimson is a textile designer with 20 years of experience creating home accessories for multiple Fortune 500 companies. She now makes her home in Raleigh where she designs her own pieces which start from hand drawn sketches. She is inspired by the idea of giving people the tools to create a life that they love.

Erica Gimson Textile Design, Raleigh, NC Maker | Gather Goods Co

Matt Booty, Enkle Designs, Raleigh, NC Maker | Gather Goods Co

Raleigh, NC based furniture maker Matt Booty of Enkle Designs has lived in South Africa, Seattle, Greensboro and Raleigh and brings that well-traveled perspective to his work, drawing particular inspiration from Scandinavia. Specializing in handmade furniture and home accessories, Enkle Designs makes each piece by hand and places a high value on sustainable materials.

Wooden Pendant by Matt Booty, Enkle Designs, Raleigh, NC Maker | Gather Goods Co

Liz Kelly Pottery, Ceramics Maker, Raleigh, NC | Gather Goods Co

Raleigh, NC potter Liz Kelly’s ceramic work is inspired by traditional craft and contemporary design. She makes functional home goods that are both earthy and elegant. Her time studying at NC State’s College of Design has given her a unique perspective rooted in the craft origins of design.

Liz Kelly Pottery, Raleigh, NC Ceramics | Gather Goods Co

Adam Davis Furniture specializes in handmade wooden furniture and unique wooden accessories and is based in Raleigh.

Adam Davis Furniture, Raleigh, NC | Gather Goods Co

Hope to see you there meeting these makers in person and supporting their craft (and of course just checking out the space), and if you can, please help me spread the word! 🙂

The Power of a Peony

You guys: have you ever felt that slow, bubbling excitement that creeps upon you unexpectedly and alerts you to impending positive energy and creativity – to something beautiful and exciting on the horizon?

I know I wax on about creativity and burn out and sabbaticals and my non-linear entrepreneurial journey a lot, but that’s because I thrive on reflection and that is what I’m doing constantly. For me things sometimes move slow like honey pouring out of a jar – but they are still moving even if it feels like they are not. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of dramatic reveals and epiphanies – mine come slowly, a lot like honey, but also like this peony bloom.

Beautiful Pale Pink Blooming Peony Flower | Gather Goods Co

 

I know that something lovely is coming, and I watch it with eager anticipation over weeks, thinking when will it bloom – and then on the day that it does, it unfurls slowly, and even more beautifully than I could have imagined, over still, a period of days. It’s an exercise in meditation and patience.

This peony inspired me to get out my camera and take a legit tabletop photo – something I adore doing but had to put aside for awhile. Something beautiful is reemerging in this season, like it always does after a period of dormancy. Nature is beautiful in its consistency and yet it always feels unexpectedly breathtaking at the sight of new growth and returning blossoms.

Gather-Studios

I am embarking on a new phase of Gather, one that I had intended to start from the beginning but along the way, it became other things – wonderful, beautiful things, but diversions from my ultimate goals. I love nothing more than driving down a winding back road and am grateful for each of the opportunities that have lead me here and all the things I wouldn’t have been able to see had I not explored other directions.

In stepping back for the past year and refining and editing what I really wanted to pursue and in looking for shared office space for my husband’s peppermint bark business as well as a place to house the goods from my online shop, we recognized the need for a space like what we had created with the original Gather: a cozy space that encourages community, is collaborative and feels like a home, filled with plants and light and like-minded individuals who are able to put their heads down and work when they need to but also to pop up and chat when they want to.

Gather-Studios, Downtown Cary, North Carolina

This really hit home after doing a year and a half of accidental research, when looking for our own small office we kept seeing the same thing: soulless spaces that weren’t resonating, none of them were Gather. We actually didn’t intend to embark on another big venture, instead we were planning on just ramping Gather up quietly behind the scenes but in all that looking for space we happened upon one that was only a few blocks from our own home and in the walkable downtown core of Cary, a community that we had truly fallen in love with after the first Gather shop here 4 or 5 years ago, and where we had moved just eight months prior.

Gather-Studios, Downtown Cary, North Carolina

My husband and I, despite all appearances, are actually quite risk-averse, and after extensive pro-con lists, deliberating, manifesting, praying and every other way you can think of decision making, recognized that this space was really a great option for us if we could get past the initial hesitation of jumping back into a new thing.

Gather-Studios, Downtown Cary, North Carolina

To me, the heart of my business has always been in facilitating and helping others, and in creating community and conversations that spotlight others, ideas and design. The shop, while a portion, was only a piece of it. In addition, I recognized a strong need to be more behind the scenes and less of a day to day retail shop but more of a private space that is only public facing occasionally and a space where I could continue to host classes and events but also a place where we could work out of quietly.

Gather-Studios, Downtown Cary, North Carolina

This new space, which we are calling Gather-Studios is only a few blocks from our home and right in the walkable core of downtown Cary and like the original Gather space it also has a back garden area (and also like the original it needs to be spruced up). I would love to offer this back garden space to an emerging flower farmer. I have other plans too, but for now it will be office space, an occasional showroom and classroom space.

Gather-Studios, Downtown Cary, North Carolina

There are a handful of office spaces available in the building and I have already leased out a few. If you are looking for a private office/studio space to rent, please get in touch. I am looking to get these filled asap and once they are gone, they won’t be available again for at least a year.

Here are more details about the space:

Gather-Studios, a new private work space in downtown Cary is currently looking for tenants. There are a limited amount of private offices available for 1 year lease terms. Ideal tenants are creative professionals who are looking for a quiet, collaborative community environment, curated by Michelle Smith of Gather Goods Co, who alongside her husband The Apothecary’s Kitchen will also have office space there. Photographers, Wellness Practitioners, Makers and Artists, and Design Professionals are a great fit, but you aren’t required to be one to lease space. In addition, Michelle will be hosting classes and private events in the front space as well as in the back garden patio. For more information please visit https://shop.gathergoodsco.com/pages/studios and email Michelle at info@gathernc.com.

Henrietta Red, Nashville

Henrietta Red is a beautiful Nashville, TN eatery specializing in seasonal cooking and oysters. The name comes from chef Julia Sullivan’s grandparents and is an homage to them. In addition to the restaurant they have a private event space next door for intimate gatherings and corporate events.

The combination here of concrete floors (a surface I’ve only recently become smitten with), wooden farm house table paired with white chairs and the warm touches brought in by the fabric pendant and textiles hanging from the wall, are perfect. I want to sit here and gather with friends.

I am really into restaurant interiors that have beautiful and special details. I think because of my own experience in event planning and my love of interior design, seeing how these spaces both function and flow, in well designed ways is really inspiring to me.

What a nice treatment of tile and grays and whites here on this wood oven, even the slight arch of the oven door mirrors the organic shape of the wood stacked above. My husband wants to build a pizza oven in our backyard, woudn’t something like this be lovely?

How cool is this type treatment and sign inside the restaurant. The cute dog sitting there doesn’t hurt either.

I love potted trees and this olive tree looks so good potted in this galvanized olive basket.

Image Credits: 3. Andrew Thomas Lee for Vogue Magazine 4. Edward The Bull Terrier  5. Violetta Nashville 6. Sarah Bartholomew Design 7. Nashville Guru 8. Sam Angel

Interior Details by Photographer, Anson Smart

I work part-time as a food, prop & interior stylist so I always look at the names of the photographers in the magazines I read. I am endlessly inspired by their talent. Recently, I happened upon the work of Anson Smart, an Australian lifestyle photographer in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Denim Blue Fabric Covered Inspiration Board and a collection of Ceramic Vessels, photo by Anson Smart | Gather Goods Co

One of the biggest perks of this line of work is getting to see so many cool interiors and meeting really interesting people.

I love this blue denim fabric covered inspiration board covered in photos that Anson captured in someone’s home here. I actually also have a few denim covered pin boards in my house too. I like how they are just a little different than the traditional linen covered ones (or standard cork board) but still almost a neutral. I’m a sucker for a beautiful collection of ceramics too.

One of the things I do in my own home and the spaces that I design is use a lot of mirrors. Mirrors instantly bring brightness to a room by bouncing light and creating the illusion of bigger spaces and more rooms. They are especially lovely when placed in front of a light source or across from a window, or in front of plants, doubling your effect. I’ve also hopped on the white walls and gray trim trend that is on display here, though I haven’t really settled on it 100% in my home – half the trim in my house is painted gray and the other half isn’t while I’m still deciding…it’s been about three months…

I love this whimsical hand-lettered sign around this brass doorbell. I am always impressed by clever signage especially when businesses use them. I think smart and handsome signage can make a really nice finishing design touch.

Who doesn’t love a collection of straw hats and bags all in a row? This is a pretty display and is functional too. A secret of styling is that things always make a big impression when they are grouped together.

Bougainvillea is one of my favorite vining flowers and in parts of California and Mexico and other more tropical locales it is a perennial and blooms year-round. Here in the Piedmont area of North Carolina it is considered an annual but will bloom all the way from Spring until Fall. I have heard of some people who have brought theirs indoors to overwinter them, (though they don’t bloom during that time) and then they bring them outside again when it warms up. The thing to note about bougainvillea are their thick thorns that you have to watch out for. Regardless, whether you have your own or just admire them in a picture, they instantly transport you to a breezier state of mind.

I like a Windsor chair in small doses, I tend to like them when they are black and more rustic and organic looking. I like how these look alongside these textural abstract paintings.

I appreciate so much the ability to see things through someone else’s eyes, such as these photos by Anson Smart. His website features a vast array of work including food photography, lifestyle photography and portraits too.

Guiding Thoughts

I made this graphic a few years back and it serves as guiding principles to what my business, Gather, represents. These are the things that I think are important:

  • Shop Local: Neighborhood mom & pop shops used to be the norm. There is something amazing about knowing the person behind the counter and them knowing the community that you live in. Their product assortment reflects local trends and buying patterns versus what someone forecasts from afar as a national perspective. The goods local shops stock and sell tell a lot about your neighbors and the community you actually live in and their tastes and values – that’s fascinating. When you support your local businesses you are creating dynamic neighborhoods which help raise the quality of life across the board. Thriving shops create thriving communities. Also, shop owners are the unseen/under praised cog in an important economic wheel, they need your shopping dollars to stay afloat and pay their grocery and mortgage bills. They can’t do it without you. Lastly the dollars you spend at your local shops goes back to your local government and infrastructure and community so you are investing in where you live.
  • Support Local Makers: Many of the same things above are true here. Your neighbors are talented, oftentimes making high quality goods for less than the labor hours they are charging. You can find more unique gifts that enrich the lives of the recipient and the maker by purchasing locally made goods. You are also enabling and encouraging someone’s dream and that’s pretty amazing.
  • Inspire & Create Community: This is a big one for me. I do believe in the “be the change you wish to see in the world” mentality and for me spotlighting and showing others the incredible, not-yet-seen or less talked about facets of the people & spaces around me is my passion. Spotlighting others so that they can then become more successful and then helping them find other like-minded individuals and connect them to others, is a privilege and a natural extension of who I am.
  • Work With Your Hands: There is something so deeply cathartic and fulfilling in working with your hands, something that, as many of us head toward lives that are dominated by technology, often gets neglected. I believe it is good for our souls and mind to use our hands to create things, whether that is food, stories, art, flower arrangements, fixing things and on and on. Our bodies were meant to be used and when you start using your hands more your mind becomes soothed as well.
  • Never Stop Learning: There are so many cool things in the world, from researching a type of furniture to a new skill, learning makes others more compassionate towards others and also just interesting (and interested) people.
  • Love Your Neighbors: I believe strongly in being kind to everyone, to choosing to include and listen to others and their struggles and triumphs. It’s easy to stay in our own lanes and heads, but when we love and reach out toward our neighbors incredible community is created. This one goes in tandem with the above as many of the other points do.
  • Elevate the Everyday: This is about appreciating what-is, and the simplicity and grace of our everyday lives. There is so much beauty surrounding us, how can we make the lens through which we see the world be more positive, hopeful and beautiful? It’s not about making magic out of thin air or being overly and impractically optimistic, it is about recognizing that diamonds come from coal and seeing the beauty in the life that you have and the world that you live in, it’s about creating and living a beautiful life, wherever you are and with whatever you have and striving to maintain that perspective.

How about you? Are you a business that has guiding principles? Do you have any as an individual? What are they and why?

Port of Raleigh – Modern Home & Design Store in Raleigh

I first met Ana Maria Munoz at my Gather shop in downtown Cary three or four years ago. I was behind the counter slinging coffee and she was a customer, it was Small Business Saturday and she carried one of the totes that we were handing out free in honor of the event. And while Ana Maria was warm and engaging, the thing I noticed most about her was her sense of personal style. She had an “otherness” about her wardrobe that didn’t feel like it was native to the area. It felt more European and urban than things I was used to seeing around here – in a good way.

Flash forward to now and Ana Maria is just about to celebrate the second anniversary of her own store, Port of Raleigh in downtown Raleigh. This Saturday too is Small Business Saturday so it seems fitting to post about her shop now, though I’ve been wanting to do so for a long time. The thing that sets her shop apart is the same thing that I noticed with her wardrobe, it is impeccably curated with a modern, European/traveled flair that is literally unlike anything in the Triangle area.

Located in a new construction building in downtown Raleigh with big glass windows, pops of her signature industrial yellow on the walls, and polished concrete floors, Port of Raleigh is steps away from Poole’s (the best mac and cheese you’ll ever try) and the convention center. Inside you’ll find modern home goods, most of which are imported, think Japanese paper products and Danish metal accessories, but also goods from right here. She fosters and sells the work of a local furniture design company Flitch Furniture, and regularly features the work of local makers and NC State design school students in her First Friday events, all within the lens of modern home goods.

Recently her shop was featured on the very popular design blog, designmilk, and rightfully so. I have been fortunate to travel abroad to many countries as well as cities around the U.S. and my favorite pastime is exploring the shops. I am fascinated by how others merchandise their goods, the products they feature, the trends and patterns, the colors and layout of the shop. It is an absolute passion, nay obsession, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Ana Maria’s point of view is dictated by having lived in multiple countries herself and also having been well traveled and that perspective comes through in her merchandise mix and is her brand’s “north star”. In my opinion, Port of Raleigh is just as good as the best that I have seen, that it is here in the Triangle, NC area portends good things for this region. Lucky as that makes us, if we are even luckier she will find a way to share her perspective on apparel and fashion as well in the future – but understanding shop ownership the way I do, that is a big ask and a lot of pressure for an already overworked shop owner. 😉

You can shop in person at Port of Raleigh Wed-Sat from 11am-7pm& Sun 12pm-5pm, at her online shop, and you can follow her on instagram. Expect to see her adorable daughter Hazel sweeping the front entry, her husband, towering above them both, adjusting window displays and of course Ana Maria and her merchandise picks.

Port of Raleigh is located at 416 S McDowell Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co.