Raleigh Rose Garden in the time of Covid

My daughter and I attempted to get out of the house and take in some nature earlier in the week by visiting Raleigh’s Rose Garden which is currently in full bloom. We were greeted by lots of construction fencing and machines, though the garden is open despite that, it was closed when we came because they had just sprayed pesticides on the blooms. Here are some of the images that I captured from that short trip:

Photos by Michelle Smith Creative for Gather Goods Co

Art Inspiration: Michelle Morin

I recently started following artist Michelle Morin on instagram. Her work is lush and detailed featuring tropical plants, landscapes and other textured nature-inspired patterns. Her work is multi-layered and busy but somehow still subdued. I really love it. She began her work as an artist while working as a private gardener in Cape Cod. Inspired by the plants around her she began sketching and painting during work breaks in the garden. Since then she has been painting and creating surface pattern designs for over 16 years. You can purchase her work on etsy, follow her on instagram or check out her website for more information.

Images via Michelle Morin’s instagram

Shop Local Downtown Cary Apparel Fundraiser for Dorcas Food Pantry

I created a “Shop Local Downtown Cary” line of shirts for men, women, and kids, (plus hoodies and stickers) to show support for all of our local business neighbors and the Dorcas Ministries Food Pantry, also located here in downtown Cary, NC. 100% of the profits from these items will go to the Dorcas Food Pantry which provides free, emergency food assistance. These items are currently available via pre-order meaning I will contact you after your order is placed to let you know when your item has been made and is ready for contact free, curbside pickup.

You can find all of the items here: https://shop.gathergoodsco.com/collections/shop-local-downtown-cary.

Please help me to spread the word and show your local love/pride. 💗

Finding Comfort in Children’s Graphic Novels of Quiet Adventure. For Adults, Teens and Kids Alike

Cari is one of the studio tenants at Gather. She has an MFA in poetry and teaches comic book classes at NC State as well as in her studio office at Gather through her business Bee Loud Comic Studio. Though she really loves doing this work in person, and has created special accommodations to make sure the experience is super cozy and comfortable for people of all stripes (she has a passion for helping those on the spectrum), she is currently doing remote classes until we can be back to the space.

At Gather, she has created a little library outside her office door where she leaves out graphic novels to lend out to readers. My daughter has benefited from this as well as countless others. I asked her to recommend some comforting choices for people to check out at home. Here is her response:

“Michelle recently asked me to recommend a few graphic novels that we can find comfort in during our current time. I thought this was a great idea, and there are so many amazing books! And, honestly, so many different ways to find comfort. 

Books directed at children are in some ways predictable: there won’t be a surprise amount of violence, but they are, also like children themselves, unpredictable in their boundless imagination, sense of wonder, penchant for wild adventure and curiosity in the face of beauty. 

These books are balm for uncertainty. They are reminders of community, family, friendship, and that part of your heart that can always grow to hold more love. In this time where we are all becoming more aware of neighbors, strangers, even our friends, our relatives, and their lives, these stories grow even more warm, delightful, and relevant. 

Anything and Everything by Katie O’Neill @strangelykatie : Aquicorn Cove, The Tea Dragon Festival Series.  

The stories are all inclusive, featuring a wide cast of characters representing and normalizing differences in race, physical abilities, and LGBTQ+ families. I cannot think of another author of gentle adventures for all ages that includes casual depictions of wheelchair use and sign-language. I love these books. I feel seen reading these books. I can imagine myself as a character in these pages, which is a rare comfort itself.

Want some more gentle adventures? Try Hilda, Sea Sirens, Anne of Green Gables, The Prince and the Dressmaker.


Moomin has been a phenomenon in the Scandinavian countries for decades, but was only recently translated into English. There are parks dedicated to the characters, and toys, and lines of home goods. There is good reason for all this love. These characters are mischievous, but also cozy, kind and human. They are the embodiment of Hygge (hoo-gah, the mood of being cozy), and perfect imperfection. Reading this collection of comic strips, you’ll laugh and you’ll sigh, but you’ll also find yourself asking big questions of philosophy and life.  

Want some more thoughtful laughs from comic strips? Try Pippi Longstocking: The Strongest in the World, Anna and Frogga: Completely Bubu, Calvin and Hobbes. 

This Was Our Pact 

Friendship is a journey, not an object one owns, and this book reminds me of all the journeys with all the friends I’ve grown alongside over the years. This adventurous book that starts with young friends riding bikes is filled with beautifully illustrated night skies, gorgeous water, fish made of stars, unexpected reflections, and of course, talking bears. The story is at once fanciful and realistic, and the journey unfolds like a daydream – a daydream I find myself revisiting over and over again with time.

Want more fantastical journeys? Try Poppy and the Lost Lagoon, Pilu of the Woods, Amulet.