web analytics

Snow From Winters Past

North Carolina experienced its first blast of winter weather Friday in the form of snow and ice. We’ve enjoyed nesting, celebrated power coming back on to warm our homes, and have tried not to fall into holiday habits that we’ve been ignoring — such as excessive carbohydrates and sugar.

As Mount Mitchell digs out from 66 inches of snow, we thought we’d take a look back into North Carolina snowstorms of the past and share images of winter weather.

Snow looks much more elegant draping across vintage cars and downtown streets.

Snow in Raleigh, NC

From the Charles A. Farrell Photo Collection, PhC.9, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. No known copyright restrictions.

Snow in the Carolinas

Intersection of Cannon Avenue (no longer in existence, present day vicinity of Dorothea Drive) and Saunders Street. Snow is seen on roadways, houses are seen lining the street 2-3 April 1915. From Carolina Power and Light (CP&L) Photograph Collection (PhC.68), North Carolina State Archives. No Known Copyright Restrictions

Can you imagine waking up to see the power lines down like this? We remember it during Hurricane Hugo, but not sure we’ve ever known snow to cause this type of damage.

Snow in Raleigh, NC

Pictured is Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, NC looking east from approximately present day Horne Street. The landscape is covered in deep snow, power lines are seen toppled over. NC State campus is seen in background with Tompkins Hall, Winston Hall, 1911 Building, and Syme Residence Hall also seen. 2-3 April 1915 From Carolina Power and Light (CP&L) Photograph Collection (PhC.68), North Carolina State Archive No Known Copyright Restrictions

Snow in Raleigh, NC

From the Charles A. Farrell Photo Collection, PhC.9, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. No Known Copyright Restrictions

The Grove Park Inn is one of our favorite spots and this photo of the Inn makes us wish we were sitting in a rocking chair in front of their roaring fireplaces.

Snow at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC

E. M. Ball Photographic Collection (1918-1969), D. H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville 28804

The 2015 N.C. State Fair “Nothing Could Be Finer” and the “Homegrown North Carolina” Concert Series for 2015

After this long hot summer we’ve been having in North Carolina, we are all ready for the N.C. State Fair. Counting down the days to the fair means cooler weather, fun foods, games that challenge our skills, exhibitions, as well as a great concert line up. The North Carolina State Fair is the largest 11-day event in North Carolina, attracting more than 800,000 attendees. Managed and produced by the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, it is consistently ranked among the top 25 fairs in North America.

The 2015 N.C. State Fair will be held this year on October 15-25 with the theme is “Nothing Could Be Finer.” Started in 1853, the N.C. State Fair has become a traditional fall-time event that aims to educate all North Carolinians about the importance of agriculture to our heritage and our economy. Their mission is to showcase and promote the state’s agriculture, agribusiness, arts, crafts and culture through the annual agricultural fair. (Ilina and I have a mutual friend who is a multiple Blue Ribbon winner in the baked goods category at the Iowa State Fair. We’re hoping she will visit one day and bring us some of her award-winning cinnamon rolls.)
2015 NC State Fair "Nothing Could Be Finer"
The State Fair is a a great event for families, groups of friends, or a fun first date. One of my personal favorite things to do is check out the display featuring the largest pumpkin and watermelon in the Expo Center. It’s always a great photo-op and makes a fun photo for your photo albums and Instagram.
Bumper Crop of Fun

Fun things to do at the N.C. State Fair:

  • Try to name as many crops, animals, pieces of machinery and crafts as you can in alphabetical order
  • Check out the 21-foot-tall Smokey Bear display and learn about healthy forests and how to prevent forest fires
  • Find out what the “buzz” is about at the Bee and Honey competition area in the Expo Center. Beekeepers are on hand to talk about beekeeping and the critical role bees play in producing our food. (The exhibit features a screened cage with an active beehive.)
  • See a Milking Demonstration and answer that age old question: Does chocolate milk come from brown cows? (Held between the Graham Building and Expo Center. Check out the daily schedule for times.)
  • Feeling Patriotic? Visit the WWI exhibit in the north-side lobby of Dorton Arena. A partnership between the Department of Cultural Resources, the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina National Guard, this exhibit explains the plight of the American soldier during WWI, and even the role the North Carolina State Fairgrounds played in the victory!
  • Head over to the Expo Center and check out the unusual shaped vegetables
  • Decide which agricultural heritage activity you found most interesting at the Village of Yesteryear on the fairgrounds (blacksmith, boat making, craft-making, growing large horticulture crops, cutting flowers, raising and showing livestock, making clothes etc.) and then Instagram a photo with the hashtag #NCStateFair

Sights from the Expo Building
Take the kids to check out the kids who participate in the fair:

  • Livestock barns and shows. Many youngsters participate in livestock shows, some barely taller than the animals they are showing. In the Expo Center, students can even milk a cow at the N.C. State University Animal Science Club’s Milking Booth.
  • Folk Festival. This event features kids of all ages competing in dance and singing.
  • Arts and Crafts. School work for grades K-12 are on display in the Kerr Scott Building.
  • 4-H Displays in the Education Building features scenes created by 4-H groups in the state.
  • County Fair Best of Show Exhibit (Commercial & Education Building), where adult and junior Best of Show winning entries from fairs across the state are displayed.

Sights from the Flower ShowFirst Weekend: Oct. 13-16

I’m looking at heading over to the fair on October 15th to see an old favorite band from my youth, Firehouse. I might even break out my very old, err, vintage rocker gear to wear to the show! Wait, I think it’s time for a NC Handmade Trivia Question: What was the original name of Firehouse? The answer will be at the end of the post.

NC State Fair Homegrown Concert Series

Oct. 15 — Firehouse with The Fifth

Oct. 16 — The Summit Church featuring Kaimy Masse, Hank Murphy and Summit Worship

Oct. 17 — Jason Michael Carroll, Luke Combs, Stephanie Quayle

Oct. 18 — Orquesta GarDel

Oct. 19 — Nuv Yug Presents Bollywood Night

Oct. 20 — Black Sheep with Shadina

Oct. 21 — Band of Oz and The Embers

Oct. 22 — Wake Chapel Choir, Instrument of Praise Gospel Concert Chrale, Watts Chapel Gospel Choir

Oct. 23 — The Love Language

Oct. 24 — Charlie Daniels Band and Kasey Tyndall

Oct. 25 — Nantucket and Sidewinder

All concerts are free, but floor seating (closest to the stage) will require a ticket, which can be picked up beginning at 9 a.m. the day of the show at the Dorton Arena Box Office. There is a limit of six tickets per person and tickets will only be available for that day’s show. First-come, first-served seating will be available in the arena’s permanent seating section.

Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., with shows starting at 7:30.

INFO:

The N.C. State Fair runs Oct. 15-25. For more information, go to www.ncstatefair.org.

Discount tickets to the 2015 N.C. State Fair go on sale on Monday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m.

Trivia Question Answer: Firehouse used to be called “White Heat.” I saw them play when I was a freshman in high school at the local community college.

Jane’s Walk Returns to Raleigh

Jane's Walk -- Mitchell Silver -- HandmadeNC.com

I live near downtown Raleigh, as I have for 13 years. I love to see how the city has evolved and I am particularly enthralled with the history that peppers each street. We’re lucky to live in a place that’s walkable. There’s a friendly smile, neighborly wave, giggles of school children, and clip of runners as I make my way through my neighborhood on my daily dog walks. It’s pretty marvelous to live with such a palpable sense of place. I’m pleased to bring you the words of Lauren Pritchett today. Lauren is co-organizer of Jane’s Walk Raleigh.

Cities all over the world, including Raleigh, are gearing up to honor the late urban activist Jane Jacobs’ birthday through Jane’s Walk the weekend of May 2-3, 2015. Jane’s Walk offers a way for passionate citizens to lead free conversational walking tours about their home city. Anyone can plan and lead a tour – the only requirement is to have fun!

In 2014, Raleigh hosted its inaugural Jane’s Walk, which captivated nearly 500 people through different walking tours about history, architecture, urban development, and parks.

Jane's Walk, Raleigh 2014

Raleigh’s 1st Jane’s Walk

Raleigh’s first Jane’s Walk appropriately began where our capital city established its roots – on the Capitol grounds, with a tour called 200 years of Architecture & History in 400 square feet. Researcher Catherine Bishir and architect Frank Harmon discussed elements of our rich Southern history with eager Raleighites throughout the Capitol.

I was ecstatic to lead the History of Commerce Tour, which highlighted several commercial buildings in downtown Raleigh. Each landmark had a different story to tell, adding a significant layer to Raleigh’s dynamic history. Although I spent a lot of time researching each historical landmark, I learned even more from the people who joined my walk and shared their own experiences with the group.

Next, dozens of walkers followed former City Planner Mitchell Silver through the downtown Warehouse District on his Looking Back and Looking Forward tour.

On the second day of Raleigh’s 2014 Jane’s Walk, Matt Tomasulo of CityFabric and WalkYourCity (two wonderfully thriving handmade Raleigh businesses) led the way from the Boylan Heights neighborhood to the Dorothea Dix property to discuss potential for city parks and green space.

Each homegrown walk featured a unique component of North Carolina’s capital city and sparked conversation among strangers and neighbors alike.

Jane's Walk 2015

Jane’s Walk Raleigh 2015

I am thrilled that Jane’s Walk is returning to the Oak City this year because we already have an eclectic itinerary in the works. Back by popular demand, Catherine and Frank will be leading the Capitol grounds tour again on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015 at 12pm.

This year’s newest addition to the Jane’s Walk Raleigh repertoire is a tour of The Wedge Community Garden by Shamsa Visone on May 2nd at 11am. Shamsa and tour-goers will talk about how to grow a healthier and happier neighborhood through communal gardening.

There is still time for anyone to sign up to become a walk leader! You are encouraged to share your love of local food, art, fashion, and just about anything else with other Raleigh citizens. Just visit the Jane’s Walk Raleigh website or contact Lauren Pritchett for help setting up a walk. One of the best parts about living in Raleigh is being surrounded by the enthusiasm of citizens who love their community.

Jane's Walk -- Raleigh 2015

As someone who’s completed three historic home renovations in Raleigh, I wholeheartedly agree! Cheers to Raleigh…Ra-Ra-Raleigh!Jane's Walk -- Raleigh 2015

StyleFinder Boutique Accentuates the Postive

Headshot2015-1

Mary Michele Nidiffer is the stylish best friend every woman needs. She’s candid yet warm when doling out fashion advice and insights. Her stream of affirmations punctuate her conversations in a way what make you want to stand up taller and throw your head back in a show of sultry nonchalance.

“Stop comparing yourself to others.”

“Highlight your assets.”

“It’s not about perfection.”

Michele has been drawn to fashion her whole life so it’s no surprise she’s harnessing her talents to open StyleFinder Boutique, a shop for women of all sizes from XS to XXL. Unlike many boutiques, StyleFinder caters to women age 35 +, but my hunch is that fashion forward woman of all ages will flock there. There promises to be a mix of styles that complement an array of women. Michele has a keen sense of style and a personal grace that carries into how she works with her image consulting clients. Her whole focus is on what makes you feel good. “It’s not about the outfit, it’s about how you feel in the outfit.” she tells me.

StyleFinder Boutique Logo

Trained “stylistas” are available for image consulting and shopping help. Such personal service is key for women like me who are ready to transition my wardrobe to pieces that better suit my lifestyle and my um, changing body. Let’s face it, gravity takes its toll as a woman inches closer to 50, but that doesn’t mean we should succumb to Mrs. Roper caftans. Michele eschews the term “age appropriate” when it comes to clothing. Her philosophy centers around outfitting women in options that are style savvy. She focuses on lifestyle, body type, color, and scale to help determine which pieces work for a variety women. She’s a mom, a wife, a business woman…she gets it. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in fashion.

Cold Shoulder

StyleFinder Boutique will stock clothing, jewelry, scarves, and handbags. I’m most excited about the Angela + Roi line of bags that masterfully blends fashion and social good. Each color bag denotes a different charity that the sale supports. For instance, a portion of the proceeds of each red bag sold is donated to Keep a Child Alive, an organization dedicated to eradicating AIDS. The boutique maintains a community conscience and carries mostly made in the USA items, many made by mother/daughter teams of seamstresses. Michele’s own line is made right here in Raleigh by local moms. Hmmm…buying a kicky outfit for yourself seems like the perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day!

tassel

ears1

StyleFinder Boutique opens May 1 at 6801 Falls of Neuse Road (next Skin Sense Spa).

 

Fill Your Easter Basket With NC Treats

The Easter Bunny is a procrastinator. You’d think all that sugar fuels him to hop around like…well, the Energizer Bunny. Alas, he lacks organizational skills. If your Easter Bunny needs a boost this season, hop on over to fill your basket with state fare.

If there’s one state that can boast the motherlode of locally made Easter basket gems, it’s North Carolina. We have curated some ideas to make your bunny’s job easier. Shopping locally bolster’s our state’s economy, of course, but filling your basketwith  local fare truly makes for a unique gift that makes a difference.

Fill your Easter Basket with NC Treats

Piedmont Candy Company is one of the last vestiges of a family owned candy company with production in the United States. It’s based in Lexington, NC, home of more than barbecue. Try the Puffs in the citrus and fruit flavors.

Piedmont Candy Peppermint Puffs #HandmadeNC

 

Chapel Hill Toffee, Videri Chocolate Factory, and The Secret Chocolatier will satiate your chocolate cravings way better than a waxy, hollow chocolate bunny.

Videri Chocolate Factory #HandmadeNC The Secret Chocolatier #HandmadeNC

Chapel Hill Toffee #HandmadeNC

Crude Bitters & Sodas has a wonderful selection of unique bitters and shrubs. I cast my vote for the Pineapple Ginger schrub. Serve it up with some Topo vodka for the grown ups. I mean really, Easter baskets aren’t just for kids, right?

Crude Bitters Pineapple Ginger Shrub -- #HandmadeNC

Big Spoon Roasters’ Peanut Cocoa Butter isn’t a body butter but it is a balm for the soul. Eat it off the spoon. Founder Mark Overbay’s favorite snack is a big ol’ spoon of peanut butter straight from the jar. Mine too.

Big Spoon Roasters Peanut Cocoa Butter #HandmadeNC

Tonya’s Cookies are the best kind of homemade treat…they are made in someone else’s home! Tonya comes from good kitchen stock; Chapel Hill’s famous Mama Dip’s is her grandmother’s restaurant. The ever so tasty White Chocolate Pecan Crisp is my favorite.

Tonya's Cookies White Chocolate Pecan Crisp #HandmadeNC

Counter Culture Coffee will be a hit among the adults who woke up for a sunrise church service. Try the #46.

Stanbury, Where Nothing Disappoints

 IMG_0595
IMG_0596

There is one problem with having dinner at Stanbury.

Every meal you eat thereafter pales in comparison. Such was my plight last weekend. My husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a marvelous dinner at Stanbury. We found ourselves indifferent to every other meal option for the rest of the weekend. Nothing sounded appetizing. We are normally pretty eager eaters so it took a while to realize that what we were experiencing were the lingering effects of dinner at Stanbury.

I began my journey on the Pineapple Express, a delectable cocktail that was ever so balanced to be both perfectly sweet and tart. Goldilocks would have approved. My husband had the Stanbury Gin & Tonic. Who knew that celery, the wallflower of vegetables, could be so divine? And to think we relegate those stalks to tuna salad, never giving it a stage to shine on.

IMG_0597
We enjoyed the most delectable, creamy oysters with our cocktails. They were served on a bed of rock salt and presented ever so simply. To have dolloped a bit of cocktail sauce would have been a culinary crime. You might have heard audible gasps if you were seated at the table next to us.
IMG_0598
The charred broccoli in chili sauce was also divine, though it could be a tish spicy for the uninitiated. I’m from India and embrace spicy food so I thought it was sublime. My husband loved it too, though he might have ordered another cocktail to quell the heat. We devoured it so quickly I didn’t even capture a shot.

The first time we visited Stanbury we lamented the fact that we ate so much that we didn’t have room for the marrow. We weren’t newbies this time and knew to prioritize this indulgence. We shall never visit Stanbury again without ordering the marrow. When we told our sons about the melty, richness of this dish, they clamored to go to Stanbury right away. Never mind that it was 10:00 am. Your senses will be delirious with one bite of this goodness. The zing of the capers and parsley cuts the richness of the marrow, while the crunch of bread completes the medley. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t daydreamed about this dish.

IMG_0599
IMG_0602
IMG_0603
To finish off our meal, my husband and I shared the ribeye. We had been hearing accolades about the ribeye so we decided we must finally give it a go. This is one more thing our sons are dying to try. It’s delicious in its simplicity. The ribeye is generously topped with truffle butter and is certainly large enough to share. I’m pretty sure the truffle butter is what sold our sons on this dish. I swear, there can’t be 11 and nine-year olds on the planet who devour more truffle salt. The ribeye is also served with fries and an arugula salad. We also eat more arugula than any family in America so this too excited my boys.
IMG_0605
The light was dim so apologies for the photo. I admittedly didn’t fool around too much because I just wanted to dig in. Stanbury does not disappoint. The service is attentive and friendly, a nice departure from the oft uptight atmosphere that this caliber meal is usually served in. It’s a relaxed vibe that makes you feel chill, not out of place. There’s not need to dress up or stand out, though it’s cool if you do. Next time I’m going to kick back on the patio with the cocktail menu and indulge in oysters and marrow. Join me.

Where is Stanbury located?

Stanbury is located in Raleigh at 938 N. Blount Street.

Type Mache Makes Letters an Artform

portrait_vert_smiling

I collect the letter E and have variations from the flea market and other places where serendipitous finds can be had. I love words. I love letters. Imagine my giddy surprise to have discovered Heather Ng of Type Mache. Heather, artist and mother of three in Cary, NC, is a graduate of the renown Rhode Island School of Design. There she studied 3 D art, and her work makes that apparent.

Heather is at once creative and earnest. There are no cliche artist airs about her, despite her pedigree and talent. What I appreciate most is how Heather literally and figuratively rolls up her sleeves and gets her hands in the muck to create art that is one-of-a-kind indeed. In a strange twist, Heather thanks her parents for not letting her putz in paper mache as a child, sparking the desire to plop her hands into the gluey muck at first chance. Who knows what talents our children hide all the times we say no? As a mom who eschews a sticky mess of any sort, I can totally identify with Heather’s parents.

hands_portrait

As a lover of words and an appreciator of type, I positively drool for Heather’s large letter pieces. The process is quite in depth, starting with hand cut stencils made with the piles of corrugated cardboard knowing neighbors leave on Heather’s porch (way to be green!). How amazing is this example paper mached in maps? I also happen to love maps, ironic considering I have a lousy sense of direction. But I digress…

The ways Heather can make a letter personalized are as vast as your imagination. Sheet music, maps, menus, concert tickets, comics, dictionary pages, sewing patterns, newspaper clippings, vintage ads, the list goes on… Heather is more than a doer; she’s a thinker too, a tinkerer. She’s bursting with elan and can give you ideas to help guide you. You see, artists like her don’t stop creating, and their brains are always click-clacking away. There are seeds for new ideas pollinating in Heather’s creative spirit. Her new 3D texture tiles are the most recent thing to bloom. I covet a collection of the Wave and Petals to hang as a series on my wall.

All of Heather’s work is painstakingly handcrafted. To hear her talk of her art leaves you smiling, her joy palpable and contagious. To own a piece of Type Mache is to truly have an artist’s touch in your home.

process_collage

The Season for Local Chocolate

videri sign

It’s so silly when advertisers and retailers claim there is a chocolate season. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter. Sure, all mark the times of year we see chocolate sales soar, but let’s be honest, chocolate is seasonless, as in, appropriate for all seasons. Any occasion can be celebrated with chocolate. Heck, you don’t even need a reason to celebrate!

Granted, with the promise of Cupid’s quiver making hearts aquiver, all eyes are on chocolate right now. I used to inhale the duty free European chocolates my parents brought back from their world travels. Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, all chocolate havens. I’d be remiss to leave out my English indulgence, the Cadbury Flake. I’m delighted to have a world class chocolatier just down the road from me in downtown Raleigh. Videri Chocolate Factory has recently won accolades at the Good Food Awards for its strawberry anise ganache. It’s too good to be sinful.

videri

Check out the full review on Ilina’s site when she wrote about Videri last fall.