Flea Market Frenzy

I've been to a lot of flea markets all over the world. When it comes to finding good stuff at a great price, it's hard to beat a good flea market fix. From The Garage in NY City, to Round Top Texas, to right here in our very own capital of Raleigh... Flea markets are great places to snag some pretty cool finds. Here are a few of my favorite things.

Fabric and cowhides at the Raleigh Flea 

 Gorgeous Glass Swizzel Sticks in Seattle

 Babydoll Heads in Roundtop, Texas

 Oh my... Love.

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. The Garage in NYC

Barware from The Garage

Talking Towels

On a recent chilly Saturday morning, I wandered into one of my favorite weekend spots, Foster's Market, in Chapel Hill. Knowing how busy this place can be on a Saturday, my plan was to dash in, grab a quick cup of coffee and a scone, and dash out. But, to my surprise and delight, within steps through the front door, my plans were completely derailed. Quietly perched on a long high top table, was the most wonderful, whimsical, charming, collection of small works of art I have seen in a very long time. And there, amidst these tiny colorful jewels, stood the tiny, colorful, jewel of a woman who created them, local artist, Eleatta Diver. The collection she refers to as "Redemption" is a collage and acrylic medium constructed from used, paint saturated paper towels which the artist collected over a period of time from her painting classes. She would instruct her students to blot their brushes on paper towels when they were wanting to change colors.  It wasn't long before she realized, the paper towels themselves were the beginnings of small works of art. Each one, telling a little story.

Sleepless in Seattle

People often ask me where I find inspiration for design. In short, the answer is " Everywhere." And more often than not, inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. On a recent trip to visit my sister in Seattle, I spent a lot of time wandering the campus of The University of Washington, where I was blown away by the creative use of materials being used on an assortment of campus buildings and dormitories. Of course, I also made my way to the famous Pike Place Market, and hit pay dirt at a variety of vintage, salvage, antiques and junk stores. Naturally, with all the amazing visual candy I encountered, it's not surprising that I truly found myself -- Sleepless in Seattle.

An on campus restaurant called "Cultivate." I love how they have blurred the lines between the inside and outside spaces by continuing the exterior wood paneling right through the glass to the inside space. The mix of concrete, wood, and steel create a warm industrial feel.

A bench made from salvage wood and steel. The unexpected use of chunky drainage rock makes an interesting textural break between the rusted steel wall of the bench and a traditional concrete sidewalk.

Check out these crazy rusted and perforated steel panels that clad the exterior surface of this dormitory!

Necessary Carb-o-loading at Pike Place market. 

Ya gotta love this guy, Harry.

A breathtaking assortment of fresh flowers

Loved this store...

Walls draped in old sheet music...

S C O R E ! 

My tiny big sis grabs 2 diet cokes for us outside the antiques market. A staple in both our diets... Oh well.

Carbs, Diet coke and some serious Retail Therapy... All around fantastic day! 


I feel so fortunate to live in an area with such vibrant local retail. I try to support our local friends and their creative establishments as much as possible. Recently, I stepped into the doors of Bloom in Chapel Hill's Southern Village. I needed to find a nice closing gift for a client and I knew I could count on the folks at Bloom to help me out.  This sweet little store is filled with an eclectic mix of vintage finds, topiaries, lovely designer candles, and an assortment of personal and home accessories. 


 Some of the sweetest finds can often be found in the most unexpected places. Saturday morning, my friend Nancy and I were getting ready to look at a few houses in Durham. Before our tour, we decided to stop and visit Rise Biscuits and Donuts which opened near Southpoint Mall in Durham.  These guys have hit a home run. Really, really, insanely delicious donuts and biscuits they're cranking out by the 1000's! If you're thinking there won't be a wait if you get there early, or late, or in the off hours... think again. But don't worry, the line moves quickly and it's sooooo worth it!

"I'll Have What She's Having!"


Dame Good Food!

I love Fall in North Carolina. We have been fortunate to have several back to back days of perfectly perfect crisp clear weather. The weekend was extraordinarily beautiful and called for worn out jeans, a big baggy sweater, boots, and... good food. I've been wanting to try Dame's Chicken&Waffles for over a year now. I've never had the time or patience to wait it out. But there's something about chilly Sunday mornings that makes me forget about time and work and all the things I "should be doing." So I grabbed a friend and headed downtown. Never bothering to check their hours, we ended up arriving a full hour before their doors opened! Not a problem though, because another place I've been meaning to try was right up the street, Scratch.

I am here to tell you, this town has it GOIN'ON in the food department. If you haven't made your way into either of these places, you are truly missing out!

Nothin' Could Be Finer...

THAN BEATING CAROLINA! I know, I know, it's risky business living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and showing my allegiance to arch rival, Duke - -  But it sure is fun. It's nearly impossible to explain to someone who isn't from here, the sheer joy derived from watching our two favorite ACC teams go at it. But I'll try...

You see, my Dad was a professor at Duke University for 42 years. I spent almost every Saturday of my childhood with my friends in "The Devils Den" at Wallace Wade Stadium cheering on our Blue Devils. And then when I was in college, I had the pleasure of watching my own brother on the field, as he lived out his dream of actually PLAYING for Duke. So when I married my husband David, a native Chapel Hillian and UNC graduate, I knew things were going to get ugly. Talk about a house Divided! It might be worth mentioning at this point that my husband grew up in a Catholic home and I grew up Jewish. While this detail may not seem relevant, trust me, it is. When it came time to make plans for our wedding, and we faced the challenge of deciding what type of ceremony to have and where, we plowed right through it. No problem. When we had our three children, and had to decide in which faith to raise them. No problem. But DUKE vs. UNC ? STAND BAAACK!!! 

Suffice to say, it's all in good fun and it is never dull around here during football and basketball season.

And lucky me... I was fortunate to be able to attend the DUKE-UNC game last night at Wallace Wade Stadium with my dear, Blue Devil Brother, Lew. Duke had not defeated the tarheels at home since 1988. In the nail biting, heart pounding, excruciatingly stressfull final minute of the game, Duke managed to break that 24 year curse to score the winning touchdown with 13 seconds remaining on the clock. COMPLETE PANDEMONIUM.

Yet one more reason why I absolutely love living here.

Duke came out  F I R E D  U P!

Fans Storm the field... Congratulations Blue Devils!

Thinking Outside The Block

My dear friend Pam Gutlon, of Outsiders Art and Collectibles, has been so wildly successful with her gallery on Iredell St., that she's opened up a second space just one block away in the newly renovated ADF building at 721 Broad St. in Durham. I recently stopped in to pay my friend a visit, and to my delight, ran into a couple of other dear friends. Pam's space is spectacular. And the real bonus is she's right next door to Amy Tornquist's new bakery, Hummingbird. Both of these establishments, like the women behind them, are so ridiculously cool and comfortable, you won't want to leave. Make sure to attend Pam's ongoing art openings taking place at her Iredell location.


The More Things Change, The More They...Change.

My mom is a remarkable cook. And, she's always understood how much better food tastes when you use fresh, local ingredients. One of my favorite childhood memories was accompanying her to the local farmstand we fondly referred to as "The Cow." If you're wondering how on earth we came up with that name for a farmstand, the answer is, we didn't. That's what everyone in Durham called it. Truth is, it wasn't just a farmstand. It was actually a drive through/around convenience store with a GIGANTIC cow standing on the roof. I'm not joking. The actual building stood roughly 9 feet long by 5 feet wide, only slightly smaller than our station wagon when we pulled up along side it. There was a sliding glass door on each side of the tiny structure. This made it really easy for Mr. Cates to move from side to side and attend to whomever pulled up to either door. During the winter, our trips to The Cow were to grab quick staples like; milk, butter, bread and cigarettes.

Summertime was different. Just outside The Cow was a big empty dirt lot. When summer rolled around, they would raise a temporary cotton canopy on aluminum poles and a few local farmers would back their pick-up trucks into the lot. Their truck beds were teeming with fresh corn, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and peaches. My mom would hand me a small brown paper bag and allow me to pick out the tomatoes. To this day, nothing reminds me more of those sweet childhood memories with my mom than the scent that lingers on my fingertips when I hold a tomato that's just been picked off the vine.

The Cow still stands on Chapel Hill Road in Durham. But now, it's a Tienda. And thankfully, it's become a lot easier to find fresh local produce. The Durham and Carrboro Farmers Markets have never been busier. And, they are as different as the towns in which they reside. While the Durham Market has a more urban flavor, with food trucks and musicians lining the side streets, the Carrboro Market  tends to be quieter, smaller and has a comfortable home town feel. You are just as likely to run into some of our famous local chefs like Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, Amy Tornquist of Watts Grocery, or Scott Howell of Nana's, at either place.

Both of these amazing markets display an equally spectacular feast for the senses.


Where You From?

One of the things I most enjoy about my job as a real estate broker is hearing how and why people decide to move here. Extensive positive media coverage over the last decade has played a large part in attracting new folks. But, I truly believe, it's good people that bring more good people. I am thankful to have met many over the years. One such person is an artist by the name of Lynn Bregman-Blass. I met Lynn several years ago while attending an art opening in an old refurbished Cotton Mill located in a small town called Saxapahaw, just 15 minutes outside of Chapel Hill. At that time, not many people had heard much about Saxapahaw. (Admittedly, I wouldn't have known about it either if my brother and his family had not been living in an even tinier town called, Snow Camp, just beyond Saxapahaw). Lynn and her family moved here from gorgeous Boulder, Colorado. I learned this as I stood there with my jaw dropped, carefully examining her work. Lynn shared wonderful details about the Encaustic medium of her work, which was completely foreign to me. I was mesmerized as she described the process of melting beeswax and painting with it, creating the textural layer upon layer of her visual stories. I purchased two of her pieces that day, and several more since then. Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Lynn in her element once again at the same gallery in Saxapahaw. Now, just a few years later, word is out... The beauty, charm, and grace of Lynn, her work, and the small town called Saxapahaw are hardly a secret. This exceptional show will hang until July 29th.




The only thing I love as much as creative people who make art for my walls, are creative people who make art for my stomach. I'm talking food. GREAT FOOD. Once again, not hard to find around here. Last night, after Lynn's show, we walked across the street to the Saxapahaw General Store. I'll limit the words and let the photos do the talkin'... This place is the real deal.


On Shell(f)-Discovery...

I never take for granted how incredibly lucky I am to have lived my entire life just a few hours from the gorgeous Atlantic Coast. When I was a young girl, my parents would pack all 4 kids into my Dad's avocado green Javelin and we would head South and East through the tiniest North Carolina towns with the craziest names like," Coats " and " Angier" and " Fuquay-Varina".  Today, my husband and I pack our 3 children into a slightly larger car and head the same direction. But gone are the days of passing through those charming, and now, not so tiny towns. I-40 was built in the mid 1980's, cutting down the drive time to the beach to just over 2 1/2 hours, give or take a bit, depending on the beach. Just last week, I decided to take advantage of the fact that it's such a quick trip. I tossed a few things in a bag, rounded up a couple kids with nothing else to do, gathered some light provisions and hit the road. Our final destination was Caswell Beach, home to the stunning Oak Island Light House and sea turtle sanctuary. We've been going to this lovely beach for 25 years. It never, ever, gets old.

Like a lot of folks, I have been known to spend countless hours looking for all things quintessentially beachy, like sea glass ( have yet to find a single piece), and whole sand dollars (another seemingly unobtainable treasure) only to feel dejected and, well... a failure. Truly. But there was something different about this trip. As I scoured the blazing hot sand desperately, hopelessly, searching... it happened. Washing over me like that enormous unexpected wave. I looked down at my feet and saw something so startlingly beautiful, it left me breathless. A shell which had been so beaten by the surf that its tiny puncture wounds created an almost flower like pattern at the heart of its fully contained outer self. It was, a survivor. At that moment, my entire perspective shifted. My bucket, which had been completely empty, void of any beach goodness, suddenly began to fill up. Ka-plink, ker-plunk, in the bucket they went. Each one marked by a tattered edge, a wrinkle, a cracked center, flawed with an aged lovliness and imperfectly, perfect.




Mmmmerritt's Grill!

People have been lining up for years at this Chapel Hill landmark. Merritt's Grill is famous for their BLT. You'll probably find Robin, the owner, greeting customers, replenishing the lemon-cucumber infused water, or adding fresh flowers to the galvanized buckets stationed by the register. Al can usually be found back in the postage stamp sized kitchen shouting out, "Single!","Double!" or "Add Avocado!" to the line cooks who calmly and quickly make magic happen amidst the chaos of the 12:00-2:00 non-stop lunch rush. This is a Chapel Hill must have if you find yourself in the neighborhood. I could eat here happily every day.





Straw Valley Cafe

Ok. I've lived here my entire life. I've driven by Straw Valley on 15-501 a gazillion times. I never knew this tiny gem existed. Talk about the best kept secret! You won't believe it. The glass door leading you into the store front is just that, a front. What awaits you in back is nothing short of dreamy. Part coffee shop, part wine bar, part cyber schlounge-o-rama. Totally COOL.