Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!! If you're planning to partake in the consumption of alcohol this New Year's, be sure to designate a driver or take a cab. Whatever you do, please stay off the roads. May 2014 be a wonderful year for us all!

Harvest Season

Apples, apples, apples! Although available around the country, I was introduced to the Pink Lady apple for the first time when I moved to North Carolina. Now, there is no other apple for me. I have been spoiled by its sweet, crisp taste. It costs a little more than the standard apple, but well worth it. To see the full North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Chart for "What's in Season", click here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vespertine / This & That

VESPERTINE and THIS & THAT are two fun gift shops that share an entryway in Carrboro. 

Each store has its own vibe, both are worth a visit. You can find local artists and crafters represented here. The staff is friendly and a great source of information about the neighborhood. Vespertine (above) and This and That (below).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Harvest Season

Spinach and Bok Choy are in abundance at the Farmers' Market this time of year. Christmas trees are making their appearance as well. To see the full North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Chart for "What's in Season", click here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Weaver Street Market

CARRBORO, NC ~ Weaver Street Market is certainly the hub of activity on the weekend when families with kids, and students with laptops all meet under the huge oak tree for a quick bite. The organic/natural food store is community-owned (with more than 14,000 owners in fact) and supports a slew of local growers and suppliers. Picnic tables and bike racks fill up pretty quickly on a nice day. This is what community should look like!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Southern Rail

CARRBORO  ~ I had my first fish taco sitting inside this vintage rail car on Main Street in Carrboro. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lake Crabtree, Morrisville

MORRISVILLE: I caught the tail end of Autumn colors at Lake Crabtree in Morrisville, NC this past weekend.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Harvest Season

Indian Corn (or Ornamental Corn) is mostly that - for decorative use only. To see the full North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Chart for "What's in Season", click here

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Day In New Bern

North Carolina locals insisted that I take a day to explore the town of NEW BERN. So at the end of September I did. Here are a few highlights from my day.

Baron Christopher de Graffenried, or the man above with the wig, founded New Bern back in 1710. He wasn't the first to step in the region though — Tuscarora Indians had settled here first.  

Elvis was silent and motionless, but the young woman playing a ukulele just past  Bear Plaza was not. She had the attention of a few pedestrians and dog. She was actually quite good.

Captian Ratty's Seafood Restaurant with rooftop dining.

Having lived in Newport, Rhode Island (a few blocks from Narragansett Bay and a mile from the Atlantic Ocean), I grew accustomed to living by the water. I didn't think I had missed it as much as I had until I stumbled upon the Northwest Creek Marina in New Bern.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Birthplace of Pepsi

NEW BERN is the birth place of Pepsi. I felt a bit like a traitor walking in being a loyal Diet Coke girl myself, but it was fun to see where that "other" drink was first concocted. (www.pepsistore.com/)

A Place for Reflection

One of the other landmarks of historical downtown NEW BERN, besides City Hall next door, is the Christ Episcopal Church founded in 1715. I can't say I've personally visited an outdoor chapel before, but I found it quite peaceful and inviting. The Spanish moss hanging overhead provided a buffer of sorts from the harsh midday sun. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Bern's Bears

NEW BERN is crazy about bears! Walking around town, I thought they were just adopting another public arts project like every other town in America. I've seen pigs and horses elsewhere, but these were my first bear sightings. When I stumbled on Bear Plaza in the historic downtown, I quickly realized this was more to this bear connection... apparently "Bern" in German means bear. Mystery solved. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

SARAH P. DUKE GARDENS [ Durham, North Carolina ]

I took a weekday morning off back in April to visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. I parked the car in the lot and headed passed the visitor center, fountain, gift shop and cafe to the garden's entrance. A volunteer was sitting on a bench outside the front gate greeting visitors and handing out maps, there to answer any questions. She knew the 55 acres of gardens inside and out and was more than happy to offer advice on where to head based on the season and how much time you had to spend.

I meandered along five miles of trails. I passed stacked turtles basking in the glow of the mid-day sun, and faceless photographers with their macro lenses buried in new blooms. I traveled on dirt paths through the woods and up the steps of manicured flower beds. I avoided the group of photographers standing guard with tripods, all pointed towards a single bird feeder, clearly waiting for that rare photo or species to drop in. If I were to guess, they were going to be there a long time. I rounded the corner to find a sprawling open lawn where Duke students were catching a few z's and meeting up with friends before their next class.

On the lake nearby there were some ducks congregating, so I thought I'd stick around for a few minutes. I took a seat on a rock at the waters' edge waiting to see if anything would drop in worth shooting (with my pocket camera, that is). Sure enough a beautiful Blue Heron swooped in from the other side of the lake and landed there right in front of me, posing as it had probably done so many times before. I looked around as if to say "Really? What are the chances?" I wondered if they were having such luck back at the bird feeder.

There's no doubt why weddings are photographed here on a weekly basis ~ the gardens are considered among the top ten public gardens in the country. It's a good thing that the original plans for this space back in the early 1920's fell apart. It was intended to be a lake. Sarah P. Duke was later persuaded to fund the the gardens and by 1935 there were 100 flower beds planted. Unfortunately, that summer a flood wiped them out. Sarah died the next year. The gardens of today are dedicated to her memory.

There's no fee to enjoy this place and it's open 365 days a year, a true gift to the folks of North Carolina. Be sure to visit in late spring or summer.

Resources #1

1. Several times a year, the Raleigh Parks & Recreation Department publishes an impressive course guide called the Leisure Ledger. The catalogue is over 100 pages and includes an endless list of course offerings — from pottery classes and Bridge meet-ups to tennis instruction and sailing lessons — appealing to all age groups and abilities. 2. Yelp (app) is used everywhere, but I couldn't have survived without it when I first moved here. It's great for finding that tasty Thai restaurant, dependable dry cleaner or recommended hair salon. 3. Bands-In-Town (app) lets you know what bands are currently in town and when tickets go on sale for acts coming down the pike. It provides ticketing information, directions to the venue and best of all, provides a play button to listen to their music. What a great way to learn about new bands and expand your play lists. 4. Our State is THE official magazine of North Carolina.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Harvest Season

North Carolina

I picked these tomatoes and basil from my patio this weekend. You have to love NC sun. Everything grows in abundance. To see the full North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Chart for "What's in Season", click here

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pullen Park

Pullen Park [ Raleigh, NC ]

When I first arrived in Raleigh, Pullen Park was undergoing a massive renovation. It was a big ol’ pile of dirt, fenced in, boarded up, and bulldozers were the only sign of life. It reopened in November 2011. It wasn’t until the following spring on April 26, 2012 that I finally drove into the parking lot to explore by foot.

What a sweet place (the first public park in North Carolina). Frankly, I think parents use their children as an excuse to visit. There are winding paved trails and a playground, but it has so much more. A working miniature train carries ticketed passengers of all ages around the park, whistle tooting along the way; a vintage, indoor carousel (relocated from a park in the Five-Points section of Raleigh) with 52 hand-carved animals spins at the sound of a Wurlitzer organ; a bright red, Norfolk Southern Railway caboose stands proudly as folks climb in and out; and a lake beckons boats which can be rented.

There’s a statue of Andy and Opie, from the Andy Griffith Show, in the park. But shhhh, don’t tell the folks of Mount Airy, NC, the fictional town that Mayberry was based upon. Apparently, the residents aren’t happy this statue found its home in Raleigh instead. 

I visited the park early in the morning, so I did not have a chance to check out the Café. I went online later to discover the gem that is was, offering the basics (hot dogs, hamburgers and popcorn) that you would find at any amusement park, but also a few unexpected treats. It’s not everyday you find hummus, baked sweet potato topped with cinnamon spice butter, chai tea, s’mores and carrot muffins on a menu…in the middle of the woods! Citing the café’s website, ““At Pullen Place, we believe everyone should have access to affordable, local, healthy, and most importantly, delicious food”. The prices are more than reasonable. Picnic tables or the shade of a nice oak tree provide great places to chow down. I look forward to returning, bringing with me an appetite.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Market Imports

Market Imports [ Raleigh, NC ]

I'm ready to pack my bags and just move in. I fell in love the moment I walked through its doors. This place is both a furniture and accessory shop as well as an outdoor space (two acres in total) with row-after-row of garden pots and planters in ever shape, size and color.

The furniture is from all over the world. There are antiques here, along with vintage pieces and reproductions, covering all price points. The furniture is rustic and comfortable. No need to worry about putting your feet up on that coffee table you bought here. It just gets better with age and abuse.

Inside the rooms are decorated with farm tables and accent furniture; mirrors, signage and giant clocks hang on the walls; scattered among it all are candle holders, lanterns, old medicine bottles, copper pans, wooden trays, drawer pulls and ceramic vases to name just a few of the items available here.

The stone work outside is diverse and not going anywhere without the assistance of a forklift or four of your muscle-head friends. There are benches, buddhas and birdbaths, gargoyles and garden urns. Whimsical metal work in the shape of farm animals keeps Market Imports from taking itself too seriously, despite being surrounded by "mansion" garden decor.

If you've been to the State Farmers' Market in Raleigh, you know where this place is. It's right across the lot. Be sure to build in some time; this could take a while. Here's a link to their website: http://www.market-imports.com/

Welcome Center


I always make a point to stop at the North Carolina Welcome Center on my trips home from CT. It's a short distance south of the NC/VA state line on Route I-85. There's a wealth of information here from city catalogues, town brochures, event calendars, coupon books, magazines and maps. I pile up at least two to three times a year.