Triangle NC Staycation Ideas

Dorothea Dix Sunflower Fields

Dorothea Dix Sunflower Fields

Summer is coming to a close but people are still heading out of town on vacation. We know this can mean long hours in the car stuck in traffic, flight delays, long lines, and a lot of money spent on hotels and transportation costs. One way to avoid these hassles and to save money is by planning a staycation. There are so many things to do in the triangle that will show you a good time, close to home.

Explore Nature

Consider a staycation focused on Nature. We have so many beautiful parks in the area where you can explore, hike, camp or have a picnic. The American Tobacco Trail, Duke Forest, Eno River State Park, Hemlock Bluffs and Umstead Park are just some of the amazing places to check out. If you want to see animals, consider the NC Zoo in Asheboro, the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, or the Aloha Safari Zoo in Cameron.

Aryn enjoying Eno River

Aryn enjoying Eno River

Visit the Museums

With so many museums in the area, you’re sure to find one that everyone enjoys! For the kids, check out the Museum of Life and Science in Durham or Marbles in Raleigh. Also in Raleigh is the North Carolina Museum of Art (my favorite!), the Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Museum of History. If you like art, there is also the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill. If history is more your thing, visit the Mordecai Historic Park, the Joel Lane Museum House, or the Raleigh City Museum. What a great way to learn while having fun!

Atti and Alvin enjoying the Life & Science Museum

Atti and Alvin enjoying the Life & Science Museum

Check out the Farmers Market

The Raleigh Farmers Market is a great place to get fresh, seasonal produce, cheeses, meats, baked goodies, crafts, candies, soaps, lotions, and N.C. wines. There are about 75 acres to explore here as well as several restaurants. Also be sure to check out some of the smaller town markets for some great items from local artisans and farmers. Pick up a few things and make dinner (and memories) together!

Sasha and Alvin at the Farmers Market

Sasha and Alvin at the Farmers Market

Go Play

Grab the family and go play together at one of the many fun area playgrounds! At Pullen Park in Raleigh, you can have fun on the play equipment or ride the carousel, train, and pedal boats. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy under one of the shelters. There are also tons of other smaller but fun parks all around Raleigh, Durham, Apex, Cary, etc. Just a few are Kids Together in Cary, Crowder Park in Apex, Sassafras in Raleigh, Burch Ave Park in Durham and so many more! You can also attempt to beat the heat at one of the local splash pads such as Jack Smith Park in Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina Splash Pad, and the Wake Forest Sprayground.

Atti enjoying the tunnel at Brier Creek Playgroun

Atti enjoying the tunnel at Brier Creek Playgroun

What are your favorite places to visit and things to do during a staycation in the Triangle? Let us know in the comments!

Preparing Your Home For Sale


The Spring Real Estate market is in full swing! If you’ve been thinking of listing your home, or even just doing some updates, these are the ones that will pay off the most and give you the biggest return on investment.

According to, curb appeal projects add to the overall value of the house more than interior projects. The top curb appeal project? New garage doors, where you can expect to recoup 97.5% of the money spent. After that, the next two are manufactured stone veneer and a wood deck. The reason that these types of projects top the list is because the outside of your home, especially the front, is something everyone will notice, as it’s the first thing they see. Curb appeal is very important and these numbers support that idea. Check out last month’s blog post for more curb appeal tips!

Maintenance items also top the list. Things like new siding, roofing, HVAC, and smaller items such as replacing leaky faucets or ripped screens, are even more important than a fancy new kitchen (even though that is nice as well!). Buyers want to make sure that the home they are looking at is sound, with everything in working order. They don’t want to worry about the important systems failing after they move in, so it is better to take care of everything beforehand and give potential buyers peace of mind.

2809 HW 55-17.jpg

As for interior projects, a minor kitchen remodel is the way to go with a return of about 80.5%. A minor remodel is when your space needs a cosmetic update. Instead of creating an entire new kitchen space, minor remodels focus on upgrading what is already there. Things like refacing cabinets and changing dated hardware, installing a new sink and fixtures, and new lighting fall into this category. A basic kitchen remodel gives the outward appearance of a complete overhaul without the added price tag.

Other updates that we often recommend during staging consultations are changing dated light fixtures and freshening up paint (choose a neutral color like a light gray). These smaller projects can often be done yourself, and can have a big impact. What projects are on your to-do list?

What's Up Wednesdays: Watts & Ward

     Welcome to my newest blogging series, "What's Up Wednesdays!" This will largely be bi-weekly musings either about local RDU happenings or design trends. It should be no secret by now that I love both my city and home decor! 


     I'm kicking off this series with a new speakeasy in downtown Raleigh. Alvin and I spent much of our first year's dates in an underground speakeasy so I'm sure you can understand our excitement when a new one opened up! This entire space has a warm den feel to it. It's laid back while maintaining excellent service and delicious drinks served directly to your table. 



     Of course, I loved the furnishings and decor! There are tufted couches, leather club chairs, and a library room. Oh! And tin tiles on the walls and ceilings! It was beautiful. Unfortunately it was dark when we went, so you'll largely just need to trust me on this one. Check out their website here to see for yourself.



     I enjoyed the Carolina Lily, a bubbly based cocktail. It was superb! Alvin had a whiskey based drink that I can't remember the name of. I don't normally like whiskey but his drink was quite tasty as well. I won't be hungry when we leave the house, but it never fails that by the time we sit down for drinks I'll be ravenous. Luckily, Watts & Ward has small plates to enjoy. I'm vegetarian so I had the caprese skewers, which were SO good. Alvin wasn't hungry, so he didn't order any of the other options but I'm sure they would have been equally as good. 

     Don't worry, we'll be back soon to test this out for you ; ). Seriously though, this speakeasy quickly landed a spot on our "regularly visit" list! Y'all should check it out! 


Shop Small Saturday: Raleigh Calligraphy

"My creative hobby unexpectedly turned into a little business, and Raleigh Calligraphy & Design was born."

     I never really saw myself featuring a calligrapher on this series because I wanted to keep it in line with home goods and products. When I think of calligraphy, I think of envelopes and maybe really well written letters. Boy did Tiffany's account prove me wrong! Her framed prints stopped me in my tracks! I immediately reached out to learn more about her and her business, Raleigh Calligraphy. 


     Tiffany and I had actually worked together on the lemon brunch styled shoot. Her work was impeccable, so I was surprised to learn that this was a relatively new venture for her. She says, "Trying my hand at calligraphy had always been on my creative bucket list, and three years ago I pick up a nib pen." Love it! Anyone else have a creative bucket list? She and her husband welcomed their first baby in 2014. When Tiffany decided to leave her job and stay home with the little one, she found some spare time during naps.


Photo by  Kelsey Nelson

Photo by Kelsey Nelson

     Tiffany used her free time wisely when she decided to use her newfound calligraphy skills to help out with a wedding. Then she did another wedding and slowly the referrals started to roll in. As she puts it, "My creative hobby unexpectedly turned into a little business and Raleigh Calligraphy & Design was born." I adore hearing about such serendipitous events! Since then, she has expanded her business to include invitation design, stationary, art prints, and a small selection of home goods. On top of all that, she does a lot of custom work for weddings, businesses, and even state agencies lettering certificates! Seriously, she's mompreneur goals! 


      Raleigh Calligraphy stands out from the crowd as it features original designs and includes various mediums such as calligraphy, photography and watercolors. Tiffany loves beautiful, simple designs and strive to create a balance between typography and design. Gorgeous blooms and lush greenery are a repeating pattern in her work. I'm a big fan of travel and our connections to others so I especially love how Tiffany keeps up with her connection to her clients. She says, "It’s so inspiring to think of all the places and people around the world that encounter my designs. I actually keep a map of the world in my studio and mark off a new section each time I get an order from a new place. I love getting an order from an obscure place on the globe- that will never get old!" 



    How great is it that our little creative businesses can connect us to so many different people and places! She's growing her business to reach even more people by recently launching a line of wedding invitations suites. Tiffany loves the process of designing packages tailored to fit different wedding themes.


    If you're now as in love with her work as I am, you can purchase products, book calligraphy services or order a custom piece on her website here. After you're finished with your order, you should enter our giveaway! Enter for your chance to win the "It was always you" print that you see in the first photo! Go to our giveaway page to enter! Giveaway runs through Wednesday. The winner will be announce Thursday, May 11th. Good luck! 



Shop Small Saturday: Wordsky Designs

        It's time for another round of Shop Small Saturday! This one is extra special because I know Kyle and have been able to watch his company grow through social media. From the get-go I have loved his designs. I mean really, it's a local showing the city and state some love! It's perfection!

         I also love his story. It is like many other successful entrepreneur stories, only they don't all tell you about the failures. It's easy to forget that many of us fail over and over again before finding what works. That perseverance it what makes entrepreneurs! 

Kyle with one of his designs

Kyle with one of his designs

         Here's a bit of background. Almost a year ago, he got the idea of trying to make some coffee tables to sell.  In order to set himself apart, he put the outline of NC on the table tops. He sold three in total. He then had one table left, but couldn't sell it because the table top on it started to warp.  On that particular table top, he had painted in the NC flag inside the outline.  So, in a bit of ingenuity, he added some rope to the table top and made it a wall hanging instead.  Wall hangings became his new thing! 

           With his newfound inspiration he worked on new designs, eventually creating this Raleigh skyline. As he was waiting on that trademark for t-shirts, Hurricane Matthew flooded the house he was renting. You guys, if my house flooded I would be sorely tempted to call it quits! But Kyle took the need of moving back home and turned it into opportunity! He started messing around his his dad's shop and from there he decided to cut the Raleigh design out of wood and here we are!

The Raleigh Skyline

The Raleigh Skyline

          How cool is that?! Multiple times when he could have just thrown in the towel and called it a day. But he persevered and now his designs are in local spots all over town! You may have seen his wood cutouts in places like Raleigh Brewing or the home of your best friend. Point is, he and his designs are going places. 

         So what's all the fuss about? Um, these here awesome wood cutouts! It started with the Raleigh skyline but he takes requests and has produced some pretty impressive pieces. What makes his standout is that he does these all BY HAND using a jigsaw. No laser cut outs for Wordsky! They come in two different sizes. That one above my desk (first photo of this post), is 44" x 18". The perfect statement piece! They also come a bit smaller at 22" x 9", which is perfect for a gallery wall! 

California Request Order

California Request Order

          These pieces are surprisingly light, even the larger one above my desk! When I saw the size, I thought it would be a nightmare to hand up. So did Alvin! But you guys, it was probably the easiest piece we have ever hung! Kyle placed the hanging do-hicky (no idea what that thing is called) perfectly so the weight is evenly distributed. We had it up on the wall less than five minutes after I asked Alvin to do it, haha.

         As of right now he is mostly taking orders from clients. However, he just made the plunge and quit his day job to pursue his dream so you can expect the inventory to build! If you're interested in watching Wordsky Designs grow, you can follow him on Instagram here. If you want one of these pieces for yourself (or a custom design just for you), you can check out the website here



As always, if you are interested in being featured in a Shop Small Saturday post, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at