Graduation Gift Ideas

I’ve pulled together some graduation gift ideas from the Gather Goods Co shop. Whether you are shopping for a recent high school graduate who will soon be decorating their dorm or a college graduate who has completed their school and is off to pursue a professional path, these items are sure to be a hit.

The Gather Goods Co online shop is open 24/7 and we ship everywhere. If you want to shop in person the Gather Goods Co gift shop is open Wed-Sun 11am-5pm at 417 Kildaire Farm Road in downtown Cary, North Carolina.

Basic Embroidery Class at Gather Goods Co

This past Monday and Tuesday night’s I taught a beginner embroidery class at Gather Goods Co. Students got to pick one of four of my designs that I assembled into kits for them. I assembled 26 kits over a few days. Kits included a #5 embroidery needle, a 3″ wooden hoop, a pre-printed piece of fabric with the design of their choice on it (either a hydrangea, zinnia or butterfly bush flower), the accompanying embroidery floss in the colors they would need for their design and a card with the corresponding embroidery floss numbers on them in case they need more – though they shouldn’t. I also included a take home guide with instructions and a picture guide with illustrations of a few additional stitches beyond the basic ones we learned in class: the satin and running stitches.

For all the classes I teach I am for them to be laid-back and accessible, relaxing and conversational but still walking away with a new project to grow into. What’s cool about embroidery is you can keep it as simple or make it as complicated as you want learning a myriad of complicated stitches if you chose to. I just enjoy it as a relaxing craft that keeps me off my phone in the evenings and allows my brain to relax and get into a flow state.

Because the gift shop is small and the front room that is usually merchandised with gift products also functions as the classroom I have to take down all the merchandise on the front table and bring in folding chairs and additional tables for the class. For each class I provide light snacks and drinks. At the beginning of each class we go around and share recommended books, shows and podcasts as an icebreaker and to get to know one another better. It feels wonderful to connect with others and have authentic conversations around a variety of topics, plus everyone leaves with new things to discover as well. At the end of the class everyone is able to shop the gift shop and they get 10% off items in the store if they purchase them at that time.

Here are some additional stitches that are good to know and practice for embroidery, though again, it doesn’t have to be complicated:

And some additional items I recommend for embroidery projects:

A needle minder which is essentially a magnet that helps you to not lose your needle
Embroidery scissors to help you trim your thread ends
A pouch to keep your projects nearby
A clip on light for making things easier on your eyes
Extra needles because they are easy to lose
An embroidery floss kit and case with so many colors

Sign up for a class

If you’re local and live in the Raleigh, Cary, Durham, North Carolina areas you can sign up for another class at Gather Goods Co on the website here including this Beginner Embroidery Class but also other craft and flower arranging, business and photography classes here. If you’re not local you can sign up for the free beginner embroidery guide PDF that I created for the class and get added to the waitlist for the online class at the bottom of this post.

Last but not least, I’ll leave you with this pretty embroidery by Cristin Morgan. I love the organic squiggle shapes and the colors in this piece. It’s a perfect illustration of how a simple pattern with bold color can really make a stunning statement.

Easter Basket Ideas for Teens & Young Adults

I’ve pulled together some Easter basket ideas for teens and young adults from the Gather Goods Co online shop:

If you live near downtown Cary, NC the Gather Goods Co gift shop is open every Wed-Sat 11am-5pm, otherwise, everything is available in the online shop and we ship everywhere!

Galentine’s Day Maker’s Market, Tues Feb 13 6-8pm at The Mayton in Downtown Cary, NC

On Tuesday February 13th I am hosting a small maker’s market inside The Mayton Inn from 6-8pm in downtown Cary, North Carolina. You’ll be able to meet and shop from local makers selling their wares. There will be jewelry (including permanent jewelry), art, ceramics, leather bags, candles, gifts and more. Below are the Triangle area local makers that will be there:

Daniella Cho of Bezalel and Company who makes jewelry from a variety of materials and also will be doing permanent jewelry at this event (think dainty bracelets that are forged together so it stays on).

KangJiahn Studio is the creative art studio from artist Jiahn Kang. She will have nature inspired fine art.

Ware Ware is the whimsical and functional line of ceramics made by Katy Petrisin in her Raleigh studio.

Weather and Story is a line of handcrafted leather bags made by Lainey Wright a newcomer to the area.

Jessie Jellicorse is a Raleigh based fine artist whose work is often created with frayed textile edges.

I met Melissa of postmodernform when she attended a Vision Board class at Gather Goods Co a few weeks ago. At the end of the class she casually dropped that she also made candles and left me some samples. I was impressed by the packaing and the depth of scent profile in her candles. She recently moved to Durham from San Francisco.

While You’re Up is a sourdough based micro bakery from Oona O’Toole. Her baked goods are outstanding and a must have. My husband may have bought out all her liege waffles at the last pop event she participated in with us. Oona moved here during the pandemic from L.A.

Lastly, I’ll have a table with my nature-inspired art and cards as well as gift goods from the shop.

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The Mayton Inn is located at 301 S Academy Street in downtown Cary, NC. The Galentine’s Maker’s Market will be held on Tuesday February 13th from 6-8pm. Hope to see you there!

Set A Beautiful Table: A Gift Guide with Table Design Ideas from Gather Goods Co

As a consummate homebody I believe that making everyday experiences at home makes for a more relaxing, cozy and special space to retreat and live. Setting a nice table and creating a pretty table design whether that is for an everyday meal or a special occasion like Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, New Years, a birthday, or having friends over makes things feel a little more festive and special. In my household every person has a birthday between Halloween and just after New Year’s including my parents as well. It also happens to be the busiest time of year for my business and my husband’s who makes peppermint bark which is a family affair where we are breaking up bark, boxing and labeling and shipping and participating in more markets too.

So when it comes time to celebrate, my favorite way is just a nice home cooked meal with a fancier than usual table. And while I appreciate beautiful things I also like things to be accessible and laid-back too. I’ve rounded up a handful of items from the Gather Goods Co online shop that make setting a beautiful table easy. All of these items are designed to be mixed and matched whether you want something colorful or a little more subdued and because this is one of my favorite things you’ll find lots of items to shop from not just what I’ve included here.

You can find all of these items online at or in-person at our downtown Cary, NC gift shop Wednesday-Saturday 11am-5pm (or anytime by appointment). Gather Goods Co is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27511 and you can park right in front of the shop in our parking lot.

Shoppe Object at High Point Market

Many retail stores use trade shows as a way to discover new products, get a sense for what an item looks like in-person and of course to further relationships with makers. Since these shows usually occur at certain times each year and in major cities like New York, San Francisco and Atlanta I often don’t go to them because as much as I love the sense of discovery, I don’t love big cities, the hustle and bustle of quick travel, schmoozing, or the cold, and I enjoy finding things in a variety of different ways. That said, I was excited when Shoppe Object, a highly curated makers market for retailers that typically sets up in NYC was coming to High Point Market, just a few hours down the road from me.

My favorite parts of the event were of course seeing inspiring wares in-person, meeting new makers, but also in running into maker friends, other business owners and design heroes from the many years I’ve been running a business. Here are some photos that I took of makers whose goods I especially enjoyed seeing in-person:

Decorative wall hangings by MQuan

A beautiful display of colorful glassware at the sir | madame booth

Hanging block-printed textiles from soil to studio

The most beautiful, sculptural ceramic lights and vases by Cym Warkov Ceramics

Colorful tableware from MoMA and a skateboard collaboration with artist Faith Ringgold

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Ceramic wall shapes by Lauren HB Studio

I am always impressed by the quality of goods, the perseverance of marketing ones products and the effort that goes into setting up and selling at a trade show of this caliber. Though many of the companies exhibiting had sales reps and employees who were present, a good amount were manned and set-up by the makers themselves. It’s no small effort and it’s inspiring to see the work that goes into making a business like this succeed at just one of many touch-points that the maker has in place to sell their wares.

Interior Inspiration: Bathrooms Designed by Heidi Caillier

I’ve been on the Heidi Caillier train for awhile so it’s exciting to see that she has a book out with many of her gorgeous interiors inside. While all of her work is beautiful, I especially love to see her signature style applied to bathrooms. Maybe it is because I live in a small eighty-year old house with only one bathroom that I dream of updating one day that I am so drawn to her inventive applications in such a small but important space. I appreciate the way she brings moody colors and tiles, decorative wallpaper and traditional elements like bead board and brass sconces together in a way that feels old fashioned and classic without feeling fusty and also modern without feeling like something I’ve seen everywhere. The design is executed impeccably as well.

I’m fantasizing about reglazing the early 90’s beige stone tiles in my bathroom. The most obvious choice is white or my favorite green gray blue color but with the trends headed towards roses, burgundy’s and greens those look gorgeous too and would make a big impact. I always did like my Grandmother’s pink tiled bathroom and the other’s light blue velvet upholstery. The avocado kitchen appliances I could do without.

These bathrooms by Heidi Caillier inspire me to go outside of my typical traditional box towards something that is both classic, cool and fun even though I know in thirty years (or sooner) those things will look “of an era” too. Still, with all white everything being so popular then the modern farmhouse style, this aesthetic feels like a more natural combination of the two combining antiques and vintage designs with new ones too which I appreciate. More than that, this look feels authentic and lived in and like it has been there for centuries versus faux new farmhouse which was always a little kitschy to me.

Images via Heidi Caillier’s instagram. You can see more of her work on her portfolio site here.

Artist Inspiration: Kat Kristof and Her Paintings of Fragmented Women’s Faces

Kat Kristof is a Hungarian artist based in the UK. Her evocative work features flat painted colors and fragmented portraits of women with the idea that we are always in flux as humans. She has an upcoming exhibit called ‘Her and the Self’ at Beers Gallery in London. You can purchase prints of her work on her website and follow her on instagram here.

Images via Kat Kristof’s instagram and website.

Check Out This Colorful Glassware Collection in the Gather Goods Co Shop. Aesthetic Glass Drinkware That is Modern, Versatile and Beautiful

There is so much gorgeous colored glassware in the shop right now. I love how versatile these handmade glasses are: from drinkware, to votive candle holders (with one of our beeswax tea lights naturally), to a desk side catch-all for pens, or keys, or sunglasses, or toothbrushes, and lastly as a vase for just picked flowers. Which color is your favorite?

Green Glass Drinking Glass, Amber Stemless Wineglass, Tortoise Shell Drinking Glass, Frosted Green Glass Drinking Glass, White Frosted Spotted Drinking Glass, Frosted Coral Drinking Glass, Irridecent Pink Colored Drinking Glass, Stemless Tortoise Shell Glass

Some of the Best Books I’ve Read Over the Past Few Months

I am a voracious reader. Owning a business with multiple threads and arms is a lot to manage, not to mention taking care of my own self care needs and that of my teenager, so I use reading as a way to disengage from that world and tune into something else. Because of my ADHD it can often be hard to change focus too so reading helps me with that. It also keeps me off of devices which is another thing I like. I enjoy the tactile sensation of a book in my hand, and winding down with a fiction book, no screen in sight. Here are some of the books I’ve enjoyed the most over the past few months:

  • Hello, Beautiful – This was one of my favorites and if you read just one from this list I would make it this one. The book is an epic multi-generational story about family, ourselves, our choices, loss and redemption. It also delves pretty heavily into mental health in a way that I hadn’t read before, sharing different perspectives from different personalities, the ways in which people who struggle with mental health live in order to care for themselves, without judgement. I highly recommend.
  • The Half Moon – Another good one about a couple who owns a failing bar and the complexities of marriage and the complicated choices we make (or that are thrust upon us) and the results of those actions. The book delves into deep topics but in a way that still feels accessible and an easy and enjoyable read.
  • House of Roots and Ruin – This is a gothic YA fantasy (and the second in a series, though you don’t need to read the first to understand or enjoy this one) filled with ghosts, castles and manipulation, a fun read for the fall to get you in the Halloween mood.
  • Fourth Wing – the newest spicy fantasy favorite that everyone is talking about. It’s like The Hunger Games meets A Court of Thorn & Roses series except the protagonists are on dragons and saving the world. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series that comes out in a few months.
  • Thief, Liar, Lady – A reimagining of the Cinderalla trope but the story takes place after the ball. It is based on about what happens next if Cinderella (named Ash here) is a tough feminist who is out to make the world a better place and rescue a different prince. It’s like a grown up version of Enola Holmes but maybe not quite as good. 😉 Still enjoyable though.
  • Banyan Moon – Another book about three generations of women and how their past affects their futures and their own children. The book is about reconciling past circumstances and traumas and then liberating yourself from them. It is also about Vietnamese women and their immigrant story.
  • The Rachel Incident – This was my other favorite out of the books that I read here. It is not for everyone as it’s very gritty but it’s about that messy stage of twenties/thirties when one is still finding themselves between school/proper adulthood/settling down. It’s about the drama/heartbreak of it all when complicated things happen and everything is harder than it should be. It’s so evocative of that particular time in life and coming into ones own sexuality/self and honoring past mistakes and realizing that they aren’t always your fault and there is often so much more going on behind the scenes than most people are aware of.
  • The Diamond Eye – A historical fiction about a Ukrainian female sniper in World War II that is based on a true story.
  • The Seven Year Slip – This book was cheesy in that you know exactly what is going to happen but in that pleasant way of watching a rom-com too. Not perfect, in fact corny at most times, but enjoyable nonetheless, if you’re in the right mood for it.
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My top picks from this list are: Hello, Beautiful, The Half Moon, Fourth Wing and The Rachel Incident.