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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
TIME 2 Hours TOOLS
12×16 sheet pan
large mixer bowl
small mixing bowl
large mesh sieve
dry measuring cup
liquid measuring cup
12×16 linen towel
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
METHOD To Make the Pumpkin Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line your sheet tray with parchment. Spray and flour.
Beat the eggs and sugar on high speed until they turn light in color and the mixture thickens slightly. 5-10 minutes.
Add pumpkin purée and lemon juice. Mix on medium speed until combined.
Sift dry ingredients together and fold into wet mixture until combined.
Spread the batter evenly over the prepared sheet pan.
Bake 12-15 minutes, turning half way.
Let the cake cool slightly.
Lay the towel out on a flat surface. Use a fine mesh sieve to cover the towel with confectioners’ sugar.
Turn the cake out onto the sugar coated towel. Remove the parchment from the cake if necessary.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with more confectioners’ sugar.
Gently, but snugly, roll the cake over itself, starting with a short end.
Refrigerate the cake for one hour to allow it to cool.
To Make the Maple Cream Cheese:
Beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice as needed.
Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar on low speed until combined, scraping the bowl as once or twice as needed.
Add the maple syrup, also on low speed, until combined, scraping the bowl as once or twice as needed.
Beat on medium speed until moderately fluffy and smooth. About 3 minutes.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Assemble the Cake:
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.
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.
Use a chef’s knife to slice off the edges, which may be more well-done than the center.
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.
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.
Roll one strip starting with the short end. Continue rolling it onto the second strip, and so on.
Use a spatula to place your cake on a serving plate.
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.
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.”
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?
This past Saturday like millions of other women I participated in the Women’s March alongside my husband, my daughter, some friends and their young daughters. I marched here in Raleigh (a sister march to the larger one in Washington DC and the thousands of others happening around the world) and the crowd here in Raleigh was about 20,000 strong. It was the largest protest in American history and 1 in 100 Americans participated in some way. I walked in solidarity and it was affirming, powerful and beautiful. I may not have agreed with everyone around me 100%, but that is the point, that I walked alongside those who feel morally challenged in some way, like myself, and support that they have the right to be heard.
I was hesitant to go at first because I don’t like crowds and I was worried about counter protests. I thought ‘I have other ways of making my voice heard that don’t involve picketing’. Living here in the capital city of North Carolina we have been in the midst of a contentious political climate for the past few years. I am sure you have heard of the bathroom bill, not to mention many other challenging policies that have limited public schools among other things. I have watched dozens of teachers leave my daughter’s elementary school because classroom size limits were lifted causing already stretched resources and underpaid teachers to just move on to more supportive opportunities.
I’ve watched as many of my friends protested and picketed and created noise to protest, and thought ‘I don’t agree with these policies, but protesting is intense’. Then, as if all the other frustrating things weren’t enough, the then voted out (in a very tight race) Governor called secret midnight sessions to strip the incoming Governor of his power to make change and citizens the power to vote more fairly through redistricting, despite the general public having voted for this change. I know that that is somewhat typical but the values are atypical and I don’t share them. The politics obviously go much deeper than just this paragraph touches on but it feels like the ushering in of something much larger and more disturbing for democracy. It feels like a pivotal time, that just sitting idly by and voting for change isn’t enough and it took seeing this at a local level to recognize the need on a national level.
The very founding of our country is based on the right to peacefully express yourself. I believe it is our country’s duty and our duty as humans to walk beside others whose views may or may not be the same but accepting that they have rights and their own unique set of challenges. Brene Brown, whose words move me greatly had a great piece that you can see on her facebook page about her thoughts on the march. She, like me, is an introvert who was so moved to action she couldn’t not participate. She also shared this quote by Theodore Roosevelt “To stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public” meaning if we disagree with certain policies or values, it is our duty to make them known, especially if there is significant resistance to them. To those that felt resistance to the march, I hear you as well. I respectfully disagree that this was a negative blight or stain on our country more so than the tenor of the new administration. It is not at all about “an eye for an eye” instead an opposition to the priority and presentation of the values being ushered in.
I was so moved by the many expressions of love and encouragement. Here’s to a more positive and supportive environment and to being the change that you wish to see in the world.