Gather Gift Guide

Just in case you are still looking for gifts and you are a visual person like me, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite items from the Gather Goods Co online shop for holiday shopping. There are of course a lot more on the site.

Pink Dots Ceramic Coastersbecause they last forever, Stylish Sunglasses, the hardest working accessory, Be Kind Sweatshirtwe could all use the reminder, Goat’s Milk Hand Soap smells amazing and is made on a solar powered farm outside of Nashville, Copper Chimes with Airplanta pretty way to nurture your green thumb, Palo Santo Sticks – perfect for new homeowners or someone looking to get rid of bad juju, Triangle Earringsjust the right amount of edginess, White Speckled Ceramic Mug – because it looks like you’re drinking from a cloud.

North Carolina Long Sleeve Pulloverbecause winter equals cozy clothes, Black & White Palm Print a simple but striking statement for your walls, High Five Cardbecause we all deserve one every once in awhile, Find Me Under the Stars Enamel Pin because dreaming is everything, Black Bar Necklacestylish and sweet, Activated Charcoal Detox Scrub because winter skin needs a boost, Things Will Work Out Print – a good reminder, Maidenhair Fern & Hand Print – to make your world a little lovelier.

Take A Hike Sweatshirt because bundling up and heading outdoors makes winter shine, A Hanging Succulent Kokedama Ball – perfect for all the crazy plant ladies (and men) in your life, Artisanal Ceramic Serving Platter – elevate your dinner table, Cactus Cards because it’s “Thank You” season, Sage Feather Ceramic Coasters your grown-up furniture will appreciate it, Petite Fern Necklacefor your favorite naturalist, Dried Eucalyptus Wreathfor an elegant door display.

Honey Apricot Snack Bars Recipe

Recipe & Post by Megan Crist,
Photography and Styling by Michelle Smith

I bet you were expecting an elaborate holiday dessert this month, but how about something you actually need at this time of year: delicious breakfasts for your busy life that includes no time for breakfast. Yeah. I definitely need that. I enjoy a decadent breakfast probably more than the average person, but… the holidays are coming, ready or not, and it’s time to get real. All the shopping, party-going, and traveling (or getting ready for travelers)… If you double this recipe, you have breakfast or snack every weekday for the month. How’s that for a life hack?

Honey Apricot Snack Bars Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

TIME 1 Hour (15 minutes active)

TOOLS

    9×12” pan

parchment paper

    large mixing bowl

    2 small pots

    rubber spatula

    kitchen scale

    measuring spoons

    liquid measuring cup

    chef’s knife

    ruler

oven mitts

INGREDIENTS

6 oz dried apricots, chopped

6 oz sugar

6 oz water

2 tablespoons honey

8 oz butter, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla

8 oz all-purpose flour

8 oz rolled oats

8 oz brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 325F.
  2. Spray the pan with cooking spray and line with parchment and set aside. I like the parchment to extend over the edges so I can easily lift the bars when they’re ready to cut.
  3. Stir together the apricots, granulated sugar, water, and honey in one small pot. Let simmer over medium heat until the apricots plump and the liquid becomes syrup consistency. Allow to cool slightly.
  4. Melt the butter over low heat in another small pot with the vanilla. Meanwhile mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt into the large mixing bowl until evenly combined.
  5. When the butter has melted, pour it into the mixing bowl with the oats and work the mixture until evenly combined. Pour half of the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly to form the base of the bars.
  6. Pour the cooled apricot syrup over the base of the bars and spread evenly with a spatula.
  7. Crumble the rest of the oat mixture over the apricots and bake for 25 minutes, turning halfway.
  8. Allow to cool before cutting with a sharp knife.

These bars are great individually wrapped and stored in the fridge or freezer. I don’t recommend leaving them in a container on the counter (although that would be fine as far as food safety) because you will probably just want to eat them. Stow individually wrapped bars in your bag for an afternoon snack or breakfast on the go to make your life a little easier.

October Playlist

I am a summer girl through and through, still, there is something magical about the Fall isn’t there? Our heat is out at home and it is the first really cold day here. And truth be told, I am loving this excuse to sit curled up by the fire with my wool socks on, my warm tea beside me and a good movie on in the background while I crank out emails that have gone neglected over the past few weeks. Why is it that in the summer months I don’t make time for such indulgences but here in the cool temperatures it feels just right? Either way, I am embracing it as I’m long overdue for some “me” time. Here are some images that have been inspiring me and a playlist I created that I have been listening to on repeat these past few weeks.

Images: Field photo via Instagram-vagabondanse, Gratitude quote via Instagram-wetheurban, Autumn style via Instgram-caro_linebiene, Dried wreath via Rose Golden

vagabondanse

Terracotta Textures

I’m really feeling these terracotta colors and textures these days.

Images: Top Left to R: Terracotta tassel earrings online at Gather Goods Co, Chunghi Lee fabric assemblage 1999 (raw hemp, cloth, stitched) from the collection of jack lenor larsen photo scanned from the book: jack lenor larsen, creator and collector, Willow Leaf Semi Flush Mount Light at Anthropologie, Tablescape photographed by Amy Batog for Anthropologie discovered via Lonny, State Fair flowers photographed by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co., painted swatches via Natasha Marie, Flowers by soil & stem, photographed by Jaqualine Hayward, Short Sleeve Linen Shirt by Rachel Harrah

State Fair Flowers & Phone Wallpaper



Every year in Raleigh the State Fair comes to the Fairgrounds and everyone you know is there eating fried foods, riding the rides, scoring Rasta banana dolls and watching pigs race. It’s a bit of a madhouse and my family likes to go early on a weekday to avoid the crowds – even still it is a lot to take in.



The food staples that we’ve come to count on are hot mini doughnuts (cinnamon of course), roasted corn, kettle corn, BBQ and this year I found a hot baked potato vendor. My husband has a lifetime goal of getting a blue ribbon for biscuits (he’s already won one for his scones).



But my most favorite part (and the only thing I really go for) is the prize winning plants and flowers. It is an oasis amidst the chaos. How charming is it to see all the cuttings of basil and single stems of flowers lined up in a row? I love thinking of the thousands of gardens these came from and the people who nurtured them





If you are like me and can’t get enough of pictures of flowers, you can right click on the photos above or press on the photo and press save photo and save them as your phone wallpaper.

Are you a Fair fanatic? What are your favorite things to do and eat there?

Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co.

Baby Steps

I am trying to get back into the habit of blogging, something I love but always gets put on the back burner. I’d like to do it daily but not making any promises or expectations to myself in this busy season. I’m thinking I might just start with snippets. Little pieces of my day, shared here. Like today, my friend Kaylee modeled for me. I took a lot of photos of her wearing jewelry and other products that are hard to photograph without another person. I hung up some makeshift backdrops and put my vision to action, something that always feels good when you have a lot of ideas and less time to implement them. I am excited to get these newly photographed items on the website before the holidays. There are some really beautiful pieces by a lot of different makers.

Also today around the studio: discussions about raising a strong-willed child and mother daughter conflicts as they get older. Also, the idea of having a lot of goals but being constantly pulled in a million directions and when finally getting that precious time to work, having no focus or energy to do so. And on the value of being grateful, and creating your dream life right now, with what you have and where you are, because once you “arrive” you’ll have a new set of challenges and expectations thrust upon yourself, by yourself. And on the value of taking stock of your accomplishments, no matter how small, instead of just always plowing ahead and not savoring them when they happen or reflecting on what has already happened. That was today. Tonight I’ll be editing these photos. Tomorrow, another day.

Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Megan is back with another delicious recipe for us, a pumpkin cake, just in time for fall. Here’s the recipe from her:

“Pumpkin roll has been my favorite cake for years. I used to request for my mom to make it on my birthday when I was a teenager. I just love the whimsical swirl and decadent cream cheese filling wrapped up in a deliciously moist and lightly spiced pumpkin-y cake.

This cake is inspired by my favorite pumpkin roll. It is a fun cake to bring to events because it looks like a basic little cake, but when you slice it, the layers are vertical and everyone has a little oooh and ahhh over the surprise. There are many cakes out there with various creative interiors, but they take a lot of time. I love that this cake is a little bit different, but not really that labor intensive.”

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

TIME 2 Hours
TOOLS

  • 12×16 sheet pan
  • large mixer bowl
  • small mixing bowl
  • whisk attachment
  • rubber spatula
  • large mesh sieve
  • measuring spoons
  • dry measuring cup
  • liquid measuring cup
  • can opener
  • chef’s knife
  • ruler
  • oven mitts
  • 12×16 linen towel
  • offset spatula
  • cake plate

INGREDIENTS

PUMPKIN CAKE:

  • 3 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of canned -or freshly roasted (ideal, but not necessary)- pumpkin purée
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

MAPLE CREAM CHEESE:

  • 1 pound cream cheese
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1-¾ + cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

METHOD
To Make the Pumpkin Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line your sheet tray with parchment. Spray and flour.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar on high speed until they turn light in color and the mixture thickens slightly. 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add pumpkin purée and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until combined.
  5. Sift dry ingredients together and fold into wet mixture until combined.
  6. Spread the batter evenly over the prepared sheet pan.
  7. Bake 12-15 minutes, turning half way.
  8. Let the cake cool slightly.
  9. Lay the towel out on a flat surface. Use a fine mesh sieve to cover the towel with confectioners’ sugar.
  10. Turn the cake out onto the sugar coated towel. Remove the parchment from the cake if necessary.
  11. Sprinkle the top of the cake with more confectioners’ sugar.
  12. Gently, but snugly, roll the cake over itself, starting with a short end.
  13. Refrigerate the cake for one hour to allow it to cool.

To Make the Maple Cream Cheese:

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice as needed.
  2. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed until combined, scraping the bowl as once or twice as needed.
  3. Add the maple syrup, also on low speed, until combined, scraping the bowl as once or twice as needed.
  4. Beat on medium speed until moderately fluffy and smooth. About 3 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble the Cake:

  1. Before you begin the assembly, note that the important thing here is that your icing is not too soft because it needs to support the layers. So make sure your icing is cool. It is okay to leave the cake in the fridge a bit longer until the icing is ready, but if you plan to leave it for an extended period of time, wrap it in plastic after it has cooled so it doesn’t dry out.
  2. Very carefully unroll the cake. It will retain some of it’s curvy structure, so when you handle it, it will be delicate. While you don’t want it to completely fall apart, don’t worry about a little crack because it’s all going to be covered up with icing.
  3. Use a chef’s knife to slice off the edges, which may be more well-done than the center.
  4. Use a ruler to evenly divide the cake into four equal strips. This should give you strips 2-½ to 3 inches wide and 15 or so inches long.
  5. Use the offset spatula to coat each strip with a generous but not excessive amount of icing. You will need enough icing leftover to cover a 6-inch cake generously.
  6. Roll one strip starting with the short end. Continue rolling it onto the second strip, and so on.
  7. Use a spatula to place your cake on a serving plate.
  8. Lightly coat the cake with icing -this is a crumb coat- and put it in the freezer for about a half an hour. This makes it easier to do a nice job with the rest of the icing.
  9. Apply remaining icing as you see fit. Note: There may be some leftover and it is delicious swirled into or on top of my favorite brownies. Keep it in the freezer. You’ll be glad you did.

This fully assembled cake keeps well in the freezer if you need to make it in advance. Thaw overnight in the fridge.”

Pumpkin Cake Recipe by Triangle Pastry Co, Food Photography by Michelle Smith for Gather Goods Co

Pumpkin Cake 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.

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?