Goods & Things

Don’t you just love these gold, minimalist geometric earrings in the Gather shop? They are simple and modern. Hand made gifts make the best gifts don’t you think?

Join me and instructor Lucy Kagan for an evening of cozy crafting on Thursday December 12th at 6:30pm. Put away your holiday to-do list for a few hours, bask in the season by taking some time for yourself. We’ll have holiday tunes and warm drinks and be making DIY pom pom earrings and garlands. Hope to see you there! Register for the class here.

I think in this age of always-engaged-with-technology, it’s helpful to remember that working with our hands, getting them dirty, making things, cooking, using them as a tool is an important part of being human and a great physical release too. I love that this handsome ring in the Gather shop is a reminder of that, a totem to wear to inspire more active uses of our bodies and selves.

Do you have a library nearby? I frequent mine a few times a week. What is more inspiring than being surrounded by all those ideas, bound and collected, for free and to share? The new Cary library just opened downtown and it has a great view overlooking the park and fountain and Cary Arts Center. Gather is just a crosswalk away to the left of this photo and the library. If you’re coming to the Shop Local Holiday Market at Gather on Saturday December 7th from 11am-3pm, you could check it out then. I recommend parking in the deck, walking to Gather, then meandering around downtown for the day.

A sign of a well-designed and pulled together house is the attention to details. It’s something that is a constant work in progress for me. While I have a lot of in-progress, half-finished projects around the house, it’s important to me that my space always feels cozy and welcoming, it’s my retreat after all and that of my family as well. Good quality Turkish towels are a step toward those “finished” details. I love how they look in a bathroom hung on a hook, slung over the back of a sofa or as a dish towel in the kitchen. I just got unpacked a lot of them in a variety of sizes and added them online and to the shop showroom so you can use them in your own home. You can shop for them here.

Are you coming to the Shop Local Holiday Market at Gather on Saturday December 7th from 11am-4pm? It’s going to be really fun. I’ve been working on a holiday playlist all week and I keep adding vendors to the line-up. There will be an amazing group of makers selling their wares, hot chocolate and an abundance of those holiday hygge vibes and who couldn’t use more of that in the winter time? 😉

While I enjoy pulling flowers together and making arrangements with them, a really simple way to bring impact to an everyday or holiday table is to create a grouping of the same type of flowers in their own vases and to collect and arrange them all together along the center of the table. When picking out flowers that go well together on a table or in an arrangement I first look to their color palette (are they in the same color family? are the colors contrasting? – both can be great looks but different effects), then their shape and texture. You could do the same thing with just foliage and greenery to great effect. Do you set your table for a holiday meal or just keep it super casual?

The JC Raulston Arboretum, On A Morning in Late November

I’d be happy at any arboretum, anytime, but I especially love having free and easy access to NC State’s JC Raulston Arboretum just a few miles from my house. It’s a gem of a garden filled with rich biodiversity and an abundance of plants tested and tended to with care.

JC Raulston Arboretum | Photo by Michelle Smith, Gather Goods Co

It’s easy to see the appeal of the expansive gardens in the spring and summer when many plants are in bloom but if you really want to see the space in all it’s splendor head over on a brisk and clear early morning in late November. This is when textures and form shine and steal the show with a juxtaposition of glorious decay alongside signs of life. You can expect to see seed pods in the sun, smell the rich resinous smell of grasses and wet earth, maple leaves glowing amber and orange in the intense morning sun, with your breath fogging before you.

To me, it is awe-inspiring and magnificent. It makes me believe that God is no doubt a gardener before all else. Here you can commune with a hawk, his spotted feather wingspan set alight as you come near and then watch him glide into a thicket of brush, protected by branches and brambles.

I feel most myself here and engrossed in nature and I imagine anyone would if they took the time to be still and present here. In the garden it’s less about being the most and instead about being the least. It’s about blending in to become one with everything around you in concert, and that’s that. It just is.

What a breathless and beautiful experience. Aren’t we lucky then to have it in our own backyard?

Photos by Michelle Smith Creative, Gather Goods Co

Shop Local Holiday Market at Gather, Makers at the Event

I wanted to give more details about each of the makers that will be popped up at our Shop Local Holiday Market at Gather on Saturday December 7th from 11am-3pm. It’s sure to be an amazing time. Not only are the makers participating really talented with great gift-able products but downtown Cary itself which is always charming is even more so at the holidays.

Academy Street will be lined with Christmas trees decorated by local citizens (the winner gets $500 donated to the charity of their choice), many local businesses will have gingerbread houses decorated by citizens that you can vote for as well, the light poles are festooned with wreaths and there is even a mailbox for letters to Santa (that get responded to on Santa stationary) for the little ones.

So bundle up, and prepare to get your dose of holiday hygge on with us. We are located just a crosswalk away from the new library and adjacent parking deck at the downtown park. I recommend parking there and walking over to Gather. We are located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27511.

Now on to the makers that will be at the event:

Jordan Grace Owens work incorporates graphic shapes, illustration and portraiture and somehow feels both retro and modern at the same time. Jordan will be at our holiday market selling prints, posters and other work. You can pictures from a visit to her home studio a few years back on my old blog here.

Wonderpuff is a 100% local vegan and organic cotton candy made by Jackie Morin with delicious flavors such as chocolate and peach tea. I can tell you the first booth my daughter will be begging to visit at the market…

Wendy Varr Burgess is a Raleigh based artist whose nature inspired work is made with alcohol inks and a variety of different media. She will have art and other pieces for sale at the Gather market. I love the way her work is textural and looks like it belongs underwater.

Unpredictable Jewelry is a line of contemporary jewelry that feels like sculpture made by local artist Vivian Blanco.

Paige Puckett Pottery is made by local maker Paige in her home garage studio. A passionate gardener she uses pottery as another creative outlet for expressing her ideas using materials straight from the earth. Paige will have an assortment of pottery for sale at the market.

YoungbloodMade is an art and illustration company based in Raleigh by Heather Youngblood. She’ll have cards, prints and temporary tattoos for sale at the market. Fun fact: Heather wrote about art for us on our blog indieNC way back in the day!

Fly Honey Oils is a locally made line of handcrafted, essential oil based products designed for holistic self care by Bri Hart. She’ll have essential oil roll on blends, and oils for your face and body for sale at the market.

In addition to curating wares from other makers, I am a product designer as well. At the market you’ll find my own Gather Goods Co goods featuring my pattern design and art on note cards, coasters, apparel and more in addition to the new line of soy based candles I just launched.

Heir Raleigh is a jewelry company based in Raleigh made by Sophie Wiseman-Floyd. Her work is minimal and dainty. She’ll be at the market selling her earrings, bracelets and necklaces at the market.

Plastic Flame Press is a line of silk-screened art and music posters by Chris Williams based in Durham.

The Apothecary’s Kitchen is a line of peppermint bark made by my husband Ben Smith. He creates it seasonally exclusively for the holiday season. It makes an amazing gift and is made with fair trade dark chocolate, a thin layer or white chocolate and organic candy canes.

& a few more makers as well.

The Shop Local Holiday Market at Gather takes place on Saturday December 7th from 11am-3pm. Gather is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27511. Everything inside from the Gather shop will be 20% off. There will be holiday tunes and hot chocolate and everyone who comes will be entered to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Gather class of their choice for you and a friend, one of our new candles, AND A BOX OF PEPPERMINT BARK. Please spread the word and hope to see you there!

Going Vegan

I’ve long had a health goal of trying to integrate a more vegan based diet into my day to day. While my family eats a lot of vegetables and not that much meat as it is, I can’t deny how good I feel and how yummy just eating vegetables is to me. Plus it just makes a lot of intuitive sense. Still, the idea of giving up creams and cheeses and milks seems cumbersome and daunting since they have been programmed into our diet for so long. I have huge binders full of recipes I’ve been collecting since I was a teenager and changing it all up seems like a hassle.

I had been hearing a number of health-minded fitness friends mention The Game Changers documentary so I watched it. The premise of the movie is to bust typically masculine stigmas of strength and power by showing high performing athletes eschewing meat and instead relying on vegetable protein. Unless you are fascinated by watching said athletes talk about these things for an hour or so, I would say you can take my summary above and apply it as you see fit.

Regardless, it spurred a discussion between my husband and I and a goal to try out a completely vegan diet for a month which would give us time to try out soy based alternatives and really dig in properly more than say a week would. Our goal isn’t to become 100% vegan, but instead to be more comfortable with the plant based alternatives that are out there so we can make healthier choices in our everyday cooking and eating. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re waiting until the holidays pass to make it easier but I’m armed with a stack of cookbooks from the library and I can’t wait to dig in.

Do you have any go-to vegan recipes? I’ll be sure to report back with cookbook and recipe recommendations.

A Chart Explaining How I Got From Here to There.

Sometimes it can feel like all of the internet is leading us to believe that everyone is an overnight success and has “made it” more than ourselves. This illusion also makes it seem that success comes easily and is all about “faking it till we make it” or that the secret isn’t really just about a lot of hard work, baby steps, brave leaps and pivots, big mistakes, heaps of self doubt and a lot of forging ahead with a belief in something bigger than yourself. Certainly none of it is a linear or an immediately logical path, or at least it hasn’t been for me.

Since I’ve personally had to take a lot of steps to get from there to here – and it’s still very much a work in progress – I thought I would share, in a chart, some of that elbow grease and meandering that over many years has lead me from there to here in the past twenty years or so. It makes me hopeful for the next leg of my journey, however long that may be, knowing that it will be full of rich experiences, many of which I can’t even imagine at this point.

Read if you dare, print out if you want, make your own version with your own markings and choices. Most of all I hope this inspires to give yourself more grace on your own path to wherever you are headed. I hope it allows you to enjoy your journey with more perspective that the dips and swells are all part of a life well lived. Because really, it’s not about the place where we end up, but how we got there that has the most value to our lives. I’ve made two versions, one with my personal path, the second a more humorous perspective. You can click on either image to see them larger and to open in their own window and print out at home. Enjoy.

Lastly, if you do decide to make your own version, I’d love to see. 🙂

Shop Local Holiday Market, Saturday December 7th, 11am-3pm

Shop local this holiday season from over a dozen emerging local makers selling their wares on Saturday December 7th from 11am-4pm in the big backyard and front parking lot of Gather Goods Co in downtown Cary. Over 12 emerging local makers will be selling their work, the Gather shop will be open for it’s once a year open house and everything from the Gather shop will be 20% off. Everyone who comes will be entered to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Gather class of their choice for you and a friend, one of our new candles, AND A BOX OF PEPPERMINT BARK. Please spread the word and hope to see you there!

Featured Makers:

+ Jordan Grace Owens
+ Wonderpuff
+ Heir Jewelry
+ The Apothecary’s Kitchen
+ Gather Goods Co
+ Unpredictable Jewelry
+ Wendy Burgess Art
+ Cool & Brown Shop
+ Cottonbook
+ Plastic Flame Press
+ Fly Honey Oils
+ Paige Puckett Pottery
+ Youngblood Made
+ & More

There will be holiday tunes and hot chocolate at this festive celebration. Downtown Cary itself is hosting their annual holiday celebration throughout the downtown as well, so it’s sure to be a fun day of holiday merriment. Parking is available at the new deck by the fountain.

Please tell your friends and I hope to see you there. Gather is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road in downtown Cary, NC.