When snow threatens North Carolina residents buy milk and bread

28 Jan

Between 2 to 7 inches of snow is forecasted to fall on the Triangle by noon Saturday. Here’s what a Raleigh Harris Teeter looked like at 9:30 p.m. Thursday night.


I can see why people are inclined to buy bread when bad weather is on the horizon (for peanut butter sandwiches, right?). I admit I bought a loaf , but I was all out so I needed some regardless of the weather. Still, it’s funny to see the bread racks cleared because of the threat of snow.

There were very few carts too.


Spend a Friday night on a moonlight paddle around Lake Michie

18 Jan

In northern Durham County, there’s an unincorporated community known as Bahama. Now be careful, you don’t want to sound like a Yankee when you go there. It’s not pronounced like the Bahamas on the Atlantic Coast. It’s Ba-Hey-Ma, singular.

Bahama is home of Lake Michie (pronounced “Mickey”), which serves as a water supply for Durham and is also a little known recreational area in the Triangle.

If you believe the claims on the city’s website, the lake boasts “some of the finest largemouth bass fishing in the Piedmont.” You can rent a boat or bring your own to test the claim (although you’ll have to wait until mid-March or early April, when the lake reopens for the season).

But if you want to paddle on the lake before then, you can sign up for the Moonlight Paddle, scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, at the Lake Michie boathouse. Only canoes and kayaks are allowed on the special night time trip. It’s unclear from the city’s website whether you can rent one if you need one, but you have to register to go so you can ask when you call (919) 477-9918.


Another cool fact about Lake Michie is that a 1940s vintage log building is located on site and available for rental. I covered a city council retreat out there about 5 years ago, and from what I can remember it was rustic and freezing inside. It’s called Spruce Pine Lodge, if you ever want to look it up.

I’m sorry that I don’t have any photos to show off of the lake. If you have one, feel free to link to it or drop me a note and I’ll give you credit & upload it to this post.

Here are directions from the city’s website (in case your Garmin decides to go all crazy on you):

Take a right on Bahama Rd, off of 501 N, follow until the lake. The Boathouse is on the right, the first driveway after crossing the lake.

Make sure your car is parked within 12 inches of the curb, or else!

16 Jan

I have mad parallel parking skills. Seriously, I can fit in spots that seem to be just a sliver of an inch bigger than my car. Granted, I have a short VW Golf, but still. Parallel parking is my thing.

Still, when I read this story about the city of Raleigh’s new found love of writing tickets to drivers who can’t park their cars precisely 12 inches or less from the curb, it seriously annoys me. I mean, it makes sense that cars shouldn’t have their rear ends poking out onto Hargett Street. But the number of tickets written for this offense in 2009 is insane.

The News & Observer reports that:

“The number of $20 fines slapped on cars parked more than a foot from the curb has skyrocketed, from just 379 in 2008 to 4,587 in 2009.”

That translates into $91,000 in fines in 2009, up from $6,325 in 2008, the N&O reports.

parking spaces

OK. So you might be sitting there thinking: “What’s the big deal? Drivers need to learn how to park or get fined.”

Well, consider this.

First, the N&O reports that the 12-inch rule isn’t even listed anywhere on the city’s brochure or website about parking rules.

Next, the N&O reports that the biggest increase started after new white parking were painted on the road in August as part of the city’s preparations for parking meters.

“Motorists park in the newly marked spots thinking that they’re in compliance as long as the cars’ wheels are within the white lines,” according to the N&O.

I can see how the lines might be a little misleading to drivers (take a look at the photo above, which shows off the lines on Fayetteville Street). That said, I’ve definitely been in the car with friends who — after parallel parking downtown — ask me to open the passenger door and see if their close enough to the car.

So, what do you think? Is the city being unfair by intensely enforcing the rule? Or should people just get over it and park closer to the curb?

If you have a minute, it’s definitely worth reading the full N&O story on the issue. It outlines how Durham and Charlotte officials enforce the rule and talks a little bit about why the city has increased enforcement on this issue lately.

Help local organizations send relief to Haiti

13 Jan

The devastating Haitian earthquake may be far from the Triangle, but local organizations are making it easier for Triangle residents to help after the disaster. The News & Observer has compiled a list of programs with Triangle connections, some of which are already shifting gears to help.

And, of course, the American Red Cross is accepting disaster relief donations. More on how to donate to the Red Cross here.

If you know of other local groups that are organizing to send money, supplies, etc., please post them in the comments section.

Second episode of Raleigh edition of Antiques Roadshow airs tonight

11 Jan

In June, Antiques Roadshow rolled into Raleigh, stopping at the Raleigh Convention Center to film three episodes of the PBS series. The second episode airs at 8 p.m. tonight on WUNC. The first episode aired last Monday and featured a woman who was holding onto her carved jade and celadon from the Chien Lung Dynasty that her grandfather had passed onto her. I’m guessing she won’t keep it for long though, as it was valued at $1.07 MILLION!!! The appraiser said it was the highest valued antique he ever appraised on the show.

Go ice skating and sledding in downtown Raleigh

1 Dec


You’ll have a chance to go ice skating and sledding in downtown Raleigh this winter, even if the temperatures never dip below freezing.

Raleigh Winterfest starts Friday and features an outdoor skating rink with real ice (I specify real because the cute ice rink in North Hills is plastic). It’s a cool way for the city to celebrate the opening of the plaza. And it’s also First Friday, which means if the rink is too packed, you can go look at art!

Here’s what you need to know:

The skating rink opens Friday night as part of a bigger celebration in the plaza that will feature Michelle Branch — ask the nearest teenage girl (or me) how the song “Everywhere” goes and you’ll know who she is – crafters, artisans and, of course, ice skating. Here’s the full schedule for Friday night’s events.

The Friday event (and several nights later in the month) will also feature SLED RAMPS. Basically, it’s a couple of big slides packed with fake snow. But for those of us deprived of snow (thanks to both geography and global warming) it’s the next best thing to coasting down a snow packed hill. Here’s a picture of the sledding ramp.

The skating rink will be open every day through Jan. 31. Here’s the full schedule.

It costs $6 to skate, which includes ice skate rentals. But they’re having special date nights where couples can get a discount if they eat at downtown restaurants. Details on date nights here.

The ultimate guide of things to do for the holidays in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill

30 Nov

If you’re looking for some ways to get in the holiday spirit in the Triangle, here are some tips. As always please add any events I forgot to list in the comments section! Happy Holidays!

Get your Gingerbread on. Seriously, you would not believe how many opportunities you have to get your hands (or just your eyes) on some gingerbread in the Triangle:

You can attend the Family Gingerbread Workshop on Dec. 12 at C’est Ci Bon cooking school in Chapel Hill. Or you can decorate gingerbread houses on Dec. 3 at the Capital City Club in Raleigh.

View the entries in the Raleigh Gingerbread House Competition now through Jan. 3 at Alta Oakridge Retirement Community.

See gingerbread houses created by the area’s top chefs and raise money for a good cause at the Triangle Family Services 7th annual Gingerbread Gala on Dec. 17 at the Umstead Hotel.

Check out Durham’s Christmas parade at 4 p.m. Dec. 5. The eclectic event always features a random mix of floats, librarians and an appearance from Beaver Lodge Local 1504.

christmas bull

Ride the Holiday Express Train at Pullen Park. The city park will be decked out in holiday lights. You can ride the train to Santa’s village from Dec. 10 and 13 and tell the big guy what you want for Christmas. There will be concessions, carousel rides and more. Parking gets bad, so consider riding the shuttle.

Go see the Raleigh Ringers, the internationally acclaimed community handbell choir is based right here in the Triangle. My mom saw them perform on PBS one year, and I’ve had to hear about them ever since. Truly, it is pretty incredible what they can do with handbells. Besides bells pretty much equal Christmas music, right?

Want more holiday music? Here’s a list of all the Christmas Concerts in the area.

Give a computer to a student who needs one. If you have any computer refurbishing skills, then volunteer at the Mini Geek-A-Thon on Dec. 12 at the Kramden Institute, a Durham nonprofit that helps connect hardworking, less-advantage students with computers.

Go see the Nutcracker. I was obsessed with the ballet when I was a little girl. I would love it if my boyfriend took me to see it this year. The Carolina Ballet performs the classic holiday ballet from Dec. 5 to 6 at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill or Dec. 19 to 28 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. You can also see it on Dec. 12 and 13 at Carolina Theatre in Durham.

Go see Disney’s A Christmas Carol at the IMAX in Raleigh. The 3-D flick will be on the big screen at least through Dec. 17.

Just whatever you do, don’t take your kids on a horse and buggy ride around Crossroads in Cary. That’s just tacky.

Black Friday shopping at the Fairgrounds: Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild AND Flea Market

23 Nov

photo (5)Instead of spending Black Friday at the mall, why don’t you do up the big shopping day craft style? The annual Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild show starts Friday at the N.C. State Fairgrounds and is an awesome way to inject some Carolina flavor/creativity into your holiday gifts.

OK. I’m completely biased. I make at least 1/3 of my Christmas gifts every year. And one of my favorite low-key weekend pastimes is wandering around the N.C. State Fairgrounds at the flea market. So an excuse to spend the weekend at the fairgrounds perusing fine crafts, pretty much is the epitome of all I want in holiday shopping (so long as we’re leaving the Apple store out of the discussion). I’ve never been to this event before, but I have high hopes.

So here’s the deal: The show is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Exposition Center at the fairgrounds. It features over 100 booths with everything from pottery, clay, sculpture, wearable fiber, blown glass, jewelry, metal work, wood work, furniture, photography, printmaking and mixed media, according to the show’s website.

The only catch is it costs $7 to get in, but guess what? The organizers have given me 2 free tix to give away! So how am I going to decide who gets them? (BTW, this is the first ever giveaway on GFTB). Well, I’m thinking I’ll keep it simple. If you legitimately want to go, just be the first to say so in the comments section and you get them.

photo (4)

ALSO … I saw a big sign outside the state fairgrounds that says the flea market is open for Black Friday!!!! It’s open Saturday and Sunday too.

OK. Don’t forget. First to say they want the tix to the Craftsmen Guild show gets ‘em. Happy Shopping!

Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theatre to reopen Thanksgiving weekend

11 Nov


It’s been a little over four months since the owners of the Varsity Theatre announced they were shuttering the Franklin Street staple. Residents were sad to see the landmark close, lamenting that downtown was officially without a movie theater. The Carolina Theatre closed back in 2005.

But the Varsity Theatre won reprieve. New owners announced late last month that they plan to show classic and recently released movies for $3. (Photo by @dgtlpapercuts)

So when will it open and what will be the first movie shown?

It will reopen on Nov. 27 with an airing of “The Wizard of Oz” reports the News & Observer. The day after Thanksgiving is always a big movie day, so hopefully residents will pack the theater and give it a nice welcome back showing.

Will you go?

Should the Town of Cary ditch its beige signs?

9 Nov


The Town of Cary is planning to revise the strict sign ordinances that require everything in the town be beige and white. It’s the first time in 10 years that the town has looked at major changes to the sign ordinances, reports the News & Observer.

I have mixed feelings about Cary’s sign ordinances. The Punky Brewster side of me says the town needs to stop being so lame and relax the laws, let some color shine through. But the former Hilton Head Island resident in me says there’s something nice about tight controls that prevent tacky signs from proliferating.

I’m eager to hear more about the process though. The N&O reports that a 15-member task force is being created for the review. Then a consultant will review the task force’s findings and the town council will make whatever changes suit its interests (I mean constituents) and suddenly pink will be the new beige. Seriously though, who will these 15 people be? What will their backgrounds be? Will they be required to know anything about design, architecture, marketing, ordinances, etc.?

No matter what, I’m guessing the town will find a way to get rid of giant “Screwed by The Town of Cary” sign that David Bowden had painted on the side of his house to express dissatisfaction over the way the town handled a road construction issue that supposedly messed up the drainage around his house.

If there’s any doubt over whether Cary’s sign ordinances are too restrictive, take a look at this awesome list of memorable violations the N&O compiled. Here’s my favorite:

“October 1996. Nonconforming exterior. Location: Gypsy’s Shiny Diner. Why: Too shiny. Owner Gypsy Gilliam locked horns over having her old-fashioned diner clothed in chrome. Some compromises included taller landscaping and building up the brick base. There was a later skirmish about holiday lights adorning the bushes. On her grand opening in 1997, about 600 people lined up at 4:30 a.m. to be the first diners.”

Residents will have a chance to share their input about the sign ordinance during the next two months. In the meantime, tell me what you think about it. Is Cary too beige? Or does that make sense for the “Containment Area for Relocated Yankees?” BTW, I have a crush on Cary, so try to be a little nice.