Mother’s Day Gift Guide

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed the radio silence on the blog but it’s been inaccessible to me for a bit and I finally have access again. Regardless, I’ve been missing it and as someone who has been blogging since early days (even if sporadically) it is a big part of the way I express myself through my business and I’m glad to be back.

Mother’s Day is next weekend and I’ve pulled together a gift guide. In general, Gather Goods Co is always a cozy, “treat yourself” kind of space with lots of feminine energy so basically everything in the shop would be a good choice to gift the mother in your life. And while it is by no means a monolithic concept these are some things I recommend.

Also, since I’ve last posted, the space has transitioned from online and open by appointment only to having regular shop hours of Wednesday-Saturday 11am-5pm. Gather Goods Co is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27511. We are in a standalone white house nestled between a handful of residences and a large new under construction building. Everything is also available online 24/7 at

Mother’s Day Gift Picks:

  1. Books about creating a cozy, sensory forward home: The Sensory Home, Home Therapy, My Hygge Home
  2. A gingham crossbody bag handmade in France
  3. A casual but sweet everyday bracelet featuring gold beads
  4. An elegant spa-like candle
  5. Colorful taper candles to make at home meals more special
  6. Whimsical paper butterflies that are an unexpected but super fun treat
  7. A brass face ring that is funky and elegant
  8. “I Simply Adore You” Gather Goods Co card (designed by me) featuring blooms from a butterfly bush
  9. “Empowered Women Empower the World” tshirt. Enough said.
  10. Pretty ceramic dinnerware to mix and match and make serving cookies or salads even more elevated
  11. A Gather Goods Co gift certificate so she can pick out whatever she wants
  12. Turmeric powder for making healthy and tasty golden lattes at home
  13. A gorgeous embroidery kit for relaxing away from the phone

Also, this Saturday, local massage therapists AriaVida will be offering FREE chair massages from 12-4pm (we’re open from 11am-5pm), and I’ll be offering 20% off all gifts in the Gather Goods Co shop (this does not include flowers from the florist in the space or books from the pop-up bookshop) and non-alcoholic mimosas. If you are local, hope to see you there!

Candle Gift Ideas for A Cozy Home

Candles make a great gift for the fall and winter season because who doesn’t want to have a cozier home? When the nights get darker earlier having a variety of light sources makes a big difference in the ambiance of your space and in turn your own well being.

If, like me, you are deeply affected by your environment, then taking control of your lighting can make a big difference in not only your mood but your physical health too. I have a sensory processing disorder which makes sense in retrospect, but is something I wasn’t fully aware of (I just noticed the symptoms but didn’t know it was a thing), and wasn’t diagnosed, until about a year ago. This means that I am hyper affected by bright lights and sounds, smells and environments. This makes sense as to why I would create a coworking space like Gather Goods Co that is a “soft” space and not filled with harsh surfaces, sounds or lighting. There are probably a lot of us that are suffering from the effects of feeling overwhelmed in certain environments but not knowing exactly why.

One of the results of this keen attention to environments is that I work hard to create cozy and nurturing spaces in general but particularly at home. There are many ways to achieve softer and cozier feelings in a space but lighting is really at the top of my personal list. Candlelight in particular with it’s soft flickering glow is a multi-sensory experience that makes us feel comforted and safe and there are so many types of candles that can be used in different ways throughout the home.

Here are some great candles that I have for sale in the Gather Goods Co online shop, all made with beeswax, coconut wax, or some combination that is naturally derived and clean burning, meaning good for you and good for the earth.

Scented Candles

Scented candles make your home smell amazing and set a mood within the space, especially if you have guests coming over and you want your home to feel extra inviting. In the Gather Goods Co online shop, I carry a line that is locally made just down the street from our studio space in Cary, North Carolina. These candles smell amazing, are packaged in the most beautiful gift boxes, poured in recycled glass vessels, feature a crackling wooden wick and are non-toxic and clean burning. These types of candles make excellent housewarming gifts. The four scents I carry are: Cabana (with notes of coconut, sandalwood and cedar), Black Willow (with notes of cardamom, amber and vanilla), Amalfi Grove (with notes of orange, balsam and vanilla) and Vanille Santal (with notes of nutmeg, tonka bean and honey). You can find all of them for sale in the Gather Goods Co online shop in the “house and home” section here.

In addition to these I actually produce a line of candles for Gather Goods Co as well. These are made with a coconut soy wax blend that is clean burning with non-toxic phthalate free scents that are meant to evoke sense memories of nature. The scents I create are Citrus & Grapefruit, Green Grass & Bamboo, White Pine, Green Tea & Lemongrass and Balsam Fir. You can shop for all of them in the Gather Goods Co online shop here.

Taper Candles

Taper candles are the long skinny ones that you put in a candlestick and you see on fireplace mantles or on an elegant dining room table. In the Gather Goods Co online shop I have a variety of different colored ones that are unscented in black, pink, pale peach and cream. These are hand-poured in Massachusetts. Taper candles come in a set of 2 and you can buy a pair in the “house & home” section of the online shop here. Taper candles make a great stocking stuffer or gift for someone who loves to host dinner parties and entertain.

Beeswax Pillar Candles

Beeswax candles create the prettiest golden glow and emit a subtle honey scent. I keep some in hurricane glasses on my screen porch for evening bookclub and friend hangs and they help to create a wonderful mood as the lights go down. These are available in a large 3×6″ size and a slightly smaller 3×4″ size. Beeswax candles in general make great gifts for homebodies who love making a cozy nest at home.

Beeswax Tea Light Candles

Just like the pillar candles, these beeswax tea light candles emit a beautiful golden glow. They look especially good in glass jars along a mantle or on a table. See the white speckles on top? Those spots actually show that the candles are made of 100% beeswax because over time when the soft oils rise to the surface they speckle like this – you can easily remove just by wiping with a cloth. Beeswax is a renewable resource and also burns longer than regular candles. You can find the beeswax tea light candles in the Gather Goods Co online shop here. Just like the taper candles, these beeswax tea light candles make a wonderful gift for people who like to entertain and cook meals for friends and family because who doesn’t like to make their shared tablescape extra pretty?

You can find all of these candles and many more gorgeous gift items in the Gather Goods Co online shop and if you are local you can arrange for pickup at our downtown Cary, North Carolina studio or free delivery within 5 miles of our space. In addition, if you’d prefer to shop in-person you can make an appointment to shop our space anytime.

Open Shop Day Tomorrow, Sat Oct 15 from 11am-4pm

Tomorrow, Saturday October 15th the Gather Goods Co shop will have another “Open Shop” day from 11am-4pm (we are typically only open by appointment or online only). There are so many beautiful gift items in the shop at the moment, clean burning candles, jewelry, food gifts, ceramics, craft kits, apparel and lots more.

I love seeing new and familiar faces and it is so fun to see what people purchase for others (or themselves) and why. I had to snap this photo of Santana because her outfit matched the shop so well. She snagged this gorgeous hand ring and some other glassware as well: a pitcher and two glasses – for margaritas of course.

Another customer stocked up on mugs, sustainable gifts like glass straws and linen napkins to send to people as gifts. Yet another bought North Carolina made food and gift items to send as themed gift baskets, someone else purchased a puzzle that they had been eyeing for personal relaxation time. There are so many different combinations of things in the shop that go well together and everything speaks to each of us differently. That’s why these open shop days are nice because you can peruse in person and let things speak to you in a different way.

I hope to see you tomorrow. Bring a friend, make an outing out of it. I’ll have warm spiced cider again and apple cider doughnut muffins too. The shop will be open from 11am-4pm. Gather Goods Co is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road in downtown Cary, NC.

The Best Food Gifts to Give and Send at the Holidays and Anytime

I am partial to giving and sending food gifts both at the holidays but also year round. They are a great item to have on hand for a housewarming present, a simple thank you, a birthday, a coworker gift, a boss, a white elephant, it goes on and on. They are also nice to have on hand in case you forgot someone or something they can easily be plucked from the spot where you keep them and given in a pinch and hopefully the person receiving is none the wiser. 😉

If, like me, you have a large family that participates in gift exchanging every year this is a good way to save on costs but also to mix and match a present that everyone is sure to enjoy. Who doesn’t like snacks and delicious food? I prefer curating and finding items that are delicious, beautifully packaged and made from really high quality products from talented food makers and in the Gather Goods Co online shop I’ve done the work for you by carrying the best of what’s out there. None of these gifts feel like the typical food basket that you could find in the mall or from a mail in catalog.

Here, I’ve rounded up the food gifts that I stock in the Gather Goods Co online shop that are perfect for gifting in-person or mailing to loved ones farther away and that all taste incredible. Many of these food items come packaged in sets of 3 so they can be divided between recipients if you prefer or just sent directly as a full set if you know someone who really loves peanut butter for instance. Highly recommend the peanut butter by the way!

And of course my husband Ben makes his seasonal peppermint bark which I cannot recommend enough. He makes it from the end of October-January and it is hands-down a customer favorite and our best selling product by far year round even though we only sell it for a few short months. People love getting it, stocking it up in the freezer (if you can resist saving it) and giving it. This is a popular corporate gift too.

If you know someone who enjoys cooking and DIYing things, I also carry DIY cooking kits which are always fun to get and make, especially for a family or a young couple that is still interested in trying new recipes vs reheating Trader Joe’s food in the whirlwind of a busy life. 😉

If you are looking for larger quantities of any of the food products than what you see on the website, get in touch. I can make it happen and even curate a ready-made assorted gift box with many of these items if you would prefer.

And, if you like giving locally made gifts, many of these food gifts are made here in North Carolina. Find all of these delicious food gifts in the Gather Goods Co online shop here.

And of course, you can always shop in-person at our downtown Cary space by appointment or on open shopping days and there happens to be one this Saturday October 15th from 11am-4pm. Gather Studios is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road in downtown Cary, North Carolina.

Shop In-Person This Saturday

Do you prefer to shop in person versus online? Well I have great news for you. I’ve been remerchandising the Gather Goods Co gift shop area in our coworking space in downtown Cary adding in all the new products that I’ve gotten in.

We will be open for you to shop in-person THIS SATURDAY September 24th from 11am-4pm as well as some additional upcoming dates. So mark your calendars and see you soon!

In-Person Shopping Days at Gather Goods Co in Downtown Cary:

  • This Saturday September 24, 11am-4pm
  • Saturday October 15, 11am-4pm
  • Saturday November 5, 11am-4pm
  • Saturday December 3, 11am-4pm

Gather Goods Co is located at 417 Kildaire Farm Road in downtown Cary, North Carolina. There is space for about 5 cars in the parking lot but the better bet is parking in the FREE parking deck adjacent to the new library and downtown Cary park and walking a block and a half to our space. That deck is located at 315 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary, NC 27511. There is also free parking in the lot across the street at the Cary Arts Center and along Academy Street, Faculty Avenue and Park Street. Downtown Cary is extremely walkable and fun to peruse so make a day of it and I’ll be happy to pass along additional recommendations for nearby things to do while you’re here!

Beautiful Handmade Ceramic Mugs in the Shop

Ceramic mugs are one of those things I can just never get enough of. They are such a beautiful object and really balance the form and function concept well. I am always in awe that such a small, functional, everyday object can take on such variety in presentation and yet still at its core be essentially the same thing by the hundreds of thousands of makers who have made them over thousands of years, actually many more thousands than that since the first ones (without handles) were discovered in 10,000 B.C.!

Below I’ve rounded up the collection of mugs I have pulled together and are now available in the Gather Goods Co online shop perfect for your morning coffee or tea and the cozy seasons upon us.

I love these creamy stoneware mugs with their reactive glaze and rim that looks like a perfectly over toasted marshmallow in a fire pit. These are the mugs to bring out and fill to the brim with creamy frothed milk or whipped cream while you sit around with a blanket wrapped around you.

Next up are these elegant green fluted stoneware mugs that remind me of sitting in a European cafe and people watching. This mug is both dainty and solid at the same time. I’m a sucker for anything in shades of green blue and this glaze has that perfect sea green quality to it.

And speaking of beautiful shades of green these chunky mint green mugs have a shiny glaze enhanced by light brown speckling.

And lastly, a classic black mug that is striking and simple, a minimalist anchor piece. I love the long swooping handle on these mugs.

Are you a ceramic mug person like me? I think they make the perfect gift. You can find all of these mugs and purchase them individually or as a set in the Gather Goods Co online shop.

Groovy Glasses and Beautiful Vases

Summer is the time of the year when I sit back and enjoy the fruits of my prior months gardening labors of planting seeds and building up the beds and installing drip irrigation, of planting, of weeding and just let whatever happens, happen. Not only is it too hot to actively do anything but it is also the time when my daughter is home from school and the schedule in general is looser. With a puppy at home too, my schedule overall has been limited for awhile before that and so I put away my active sitting in front of the computer time and just be more present in the moment: cooking, reading, sitting with the dog, carpooling to whatever camp or activity my teen has, whatever is required in the day to day.

It is not glamorous, the weeds have certainly overtaken, but it is a conscious choice to focus on more simplicity, to allow this moment to be good enough, to just watch the bunnies in the yard as the multiply and eat the fruit from my trees, to pick the tomatoes I can before the squirrels get to them, to walk the dog, to be available when my daughter wants a listening ear, to be present in what is versus what could be achieved instead in regards to a productivity output and measurement. To allow what might look to others as visible neglect but instead a more conscious choice to focus on other things and give those things the space they need. We can’t do it all after all. If we choose everything, we choose nothing. Every action requires a sacrifice of something else. I am acutely aware of the privilege of being able to carve out a business where I can have this flexibility even if it feels difficult to manage my own needs at times with my child’s as well. This balancing act of self vs others is I know, the common parenting plight for everyone, regardless of circumstance.

I do greatly value this presence at this time in my daughter’s life though I also know it comes with a short timeframe, only a handful more years before she is off to college. This looming timeframe allows this liminal, lazy, challenging but quieter time to be more acceptable, even if it is hard to know I could be doing and accomplishing other things too. These challenging teenage years remind me of those early newborn years where life shifts and you just have to accept it, there is a tension, but also a beauty in how fragile it is.

One thing that I love doing to fill my days with more beauty and focus on the season I’m in is to create flower arrangements from the flowers that are blooming in my yard. Like my mother before me, I have a cabinet dedicated to table linens and vases and hosting supplies and I enjoy pulling out the right vase for the right arrangement, sometimes an old jam jar, sometimes something a little fancier.

In that spirit I wanted to highlight these beautiful colorful glass vases that I have recently added to the Gather Goods Co online shop. They are on the smaller side, meaning perfect for a few stems versus a larger arrangement but come in a variety of colors and shapes and are great to have on hand to make a table or just your entryway more beautiful as you walk through it each day on your way out the door.

I love how these glass vases come in such unusual shapes and feel both retro and modern at the same time.

What are your days looking like these days? What are you choosing to fill them with and what are you letting go? What small acts of intention are bringing more presence and beauty to each of these choices you are making?

Daytrip to Winston-Salem from Raleigh, NC Area

We are a family of homebodies who are perfectly content to stay home almost all the time reading, working in the garden, cooking, playing games. We live in a location where we can walk to almost everything and we really appreciate that. Still, we love to explore the larger world around us whether that is through nature walks or taking in new places that are less nearby. Now that we are 2/3rd’s fully vaccinated (my daughter is almost fully vaccinated herself), we are starting to embark on day-trips where we don’t necessarily have to spend the night but can still see new things. I had been wanting to check out a variety of gardens in Winston-Salem, NC, which is a little under two hours from us in the Raleigh, NC area so on a day that was overcast and temperate we jumped on the chance to take a daytrip/road trip.

Our first stop was the Paul J Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville, NC a few miles outside of Winston-Salem. It is a garden that is still developing but already has a significant amount of plantings on their 7 acres of land located right in the downtown. The sidewalk leading into the garden is landscaped with an abundance of plants and the parking lot is surrounded by a wall of espaliered ginkgo trees which creates the effect of picture frames looking into the grounds.

I loved this combination of evergreen huecera and grasses in repurposed shipping pallets.

Next, we stopped for lunch in the Reynolda Village Shops & Gardens which is an enclave of shops that were once part of the estate of the R.J. Reynolds family. While there we got a hot, made to order doughnut from Dough Joe’s which was decorated like a cozy home with leather couches and perfectly karate chopped pillows (perhaps a nod to their name), gallery walls of vintage art and lots of pendants overhead and natural light streaming in from their windows. We just happened upon it and I think the best trips are the ones where you uncover naturally unique finds just through exploring the place and asking locals if you get the opportunity.

Because we were unaware at the time that the shops connected to the museum and grounds that we were planning to see later we got in our car and drove next to SECCA (The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) which is just up the road. Next time, we will just walk from the shops (if we go there again for lunch) to the Reynolda gardens and museum that are all on the same property which is also part of the Wake Forest University campus. At SECCA we walked through a surrealist exhibit that mimicked being underwater alongside moveable swimming puppets.

Also at SECCA were a couple of Art-O-Mats. Art-O-Mat’s were started about thirty years ago by Winston-Salem native Clark Whittington who takes decommissioned cigarette vending machines and collaborates with artists to create tiny pieces of art that you can purchase from the machine. There are currently over 100 machines at locations around the country.

Just beyond SECCA is the Reynolda House Museum of American Art and Reynolda Gardens. The “house” is a sprawling mansion that was the former home of tobacco magnate RJ Reynolds and his wife Katharine Smith Reynolds and later one of their grown children. The house was built in 1917 around the dawn of the Arts & Craft Movement / Art Deco period so there are lots of beautiful light fixtures, pieces of furniture and wallpaper evocative of that era. When I was in design school I fell in love with that time period and it’s usage of poster design, wallpapers, fonts, beautiful ornate objects, feminine muses, and the philosophies and patterns of William Morris (he famously said “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”) so I especially loved seeing them in a period appropriate home. My own style is heavily influenced by this time period.

Because the owners were obviously obscenely wealthy in the roaring twenties when cigarette smoking was especially glamorous there are quite a few ostentatious touches, especially the game rooms and bar in the basement. Apparently, guests would roller skate between the bowling alley, the shooting gallery, the billiards room, the bar, etc. and on particularly wild parties the indoor pool would have macaws on display inside bird cages at the edge of the pool. Today the estate houses a collection of modern art inside and in a newly created gallery attached to the house.

On the grounds just beyond the house is Reynolda Gardens a 134 acre garden currently filled with blooming roses and punctuated by dark painted structures and supports and a greenhouse (which was currently closed).

Since I made the trek to Winston-Salem for the gardens there were still more that I wanted to check out. In Bethabara Park you can see the ruins of one of the first European settlements of North Carolina. On the grounds is also the Bethabara Community Gardens which was started in 1759 and is the oldest known and documented community garden in the country and beside that is the first medicinal garden ever planted in America as well.

There are lots of fun things to check out in downtown Winston Salem but on this trip we were only able to check out the bookstore Bookmarks (which was recommended by Jennings of Parker & Otis in Durham who I just happened to run into while she was on her own away trip here). I love this cute little alley behind the shop and like how it brings multiple businesses together with an outdoor gathering spot.

Last stop before driving home for the evening was the gardens at Old Salem. Typically, the buildings here are filled with reenactors but we were able to walk around free of that and the added tourists by going after hours. We walked around looking at old buildings and trudging through the garden spaces we could find.

It is worth nothing that Old Salem participates in the International Coalition of Sites of Conscious. As per their website: “A Site of Conscience is a place of memory – such as a historic site, place-based museum or memorial – that prevents erasure from happening in order to ensure a more just and humane future. Not only do Sites of Conscience provide safe spaces to remember and preserve even the most traumatic memories, but they enable their visitors to make connections between the past and related contemporary human rights issues.”

In a few hours we were back home and ready for sleeping in our own beds.

Photos by Michelle Smith Creative for Gather Goods Co

Introducing Gather Voices, The Podcast

After many years of having one-on-one conversations with others that I’ve wanted to share, I’ve finally started a podcast. You might remember a few years back I recorded one conversation from a talk I had with another business owner, well this time there will be more than that.

I aim to release these once a month though sometimes there may be more content than that. You can listen anywhere you stream podcasts just search for “Gather Voices“.⁠⁠

The first episode is a zoom conversation (so there may be blips and some noises here and there!) with Preeti Waas of Cheeni Raleigh. I hope you enjoy it! ⁠⁠You can listen to it below (or wherever you find podcasts).

I’d love it if you subscribe, rate and review and share with your friends so that others can find it too.