I Heart Mom – Part II, Saturday

Ok, so we learned how to approach plans with Mom on Friday, now let’s talk about the whopper, Saturday.

Start the day off right

Not with a bang and not by sleeping in…somewhere in between. Choose a coffee shop that sells light breakfast fare or a bunch spot – like Morning Times or Poole’s Diner – depending on when your Mom (and Dad or additional family if they are in town too) likes to get up. My Mom isn’t so old school or old that she gets up before the sun, but she does seem to be showered, dressed and have all the yawns shaken out before me at all times.

Walk it off

Precisely why downtown is awesome. Eat downtown, then go for a stroll. If you parked the car in a deck (there are many) then you are not being charged per minute, so there’s no rush. Which is very important for Saturday plans. The likelihood of crankiness increases with the amount of rushing around you do, so take this opportunity to relax, let the food and coffee drive you, and chat about your plans for later in the day and evening.

Ask Mom

Does Mom have anything she’d like to see or do today? Last weekend, my Mom wanted to look for a painting to go in her kitchen, so we got some ideas by visiting the art galleries in City Market. Again, we balanced work with pleasure, and checked out locally made jewelry at Epona & Oak and funky art at Amplified Art. Then, we went to a large art store in North Hills to look for something she might want to purchase.

Feed the Fun

From our Friday post you know that if it’s nice out, sit outside or by a window. Let the weather take some pressure off and entertain for you. Great food can also lend a helping hand. I recommend going somewhere you know fairly well and has a no fuss menu, or an exotic fare you are sure Mom likes. Also, when you get to the restaurant, if it’s crowded or too loud or anything that rubs you (or her) the wrong way – just go somewhere else. Don’t force it. Keeping things relaxed is all part of feeding the fun.

Take a break

Or a nap. After a day of doing and going, take a break before dinner and evening plans. Find Mom a cozy chair and magazine. Then go on a texting spree or zone out in your room. Do something you’d normally be doing if Mom weren’t in town. You’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to put your mind back on her for the evening.

You could also go for ice cream or chocolate. Escazu chocolates off of Blount Street or Loco Pops on Hillsborough Street are a couple options.

Wine & Dine her

Now, go out with a bang! Again, this doesn’t have to mean you spend a gazillion dollars (but if you can, you should).

No matter what, choose a dinner plan that shows her how much you care. My sister and I made a delicious dinner at my house. Not your idea of wining and dining perhaps, but it accomplished a goal = I had been wanting to show Mom what a weekend dinner was like at my house, since I love to host dinner parties and my husband and I love to cook. So, we did just that.

And we did those forbidden things like, talk about politics and health care (we did avoid religion). Then over wine, we looked through photo albums while the guys tried to figure out how to work the computer-to-tv hook up, you know, good wholesome stuff.

Or, go out! Order the good wine and special entree. And live music abounds downtown, so this would be an entertaining way to end the night.

Smile, enjoy, be merry.

Iris & the NC Art Museum

Following the advice of I Heart Mom – Part I, Friday, my sister and I took Mom to the North Carolina Art Museum off of Blue Ridge Road/Wade Avenue. Walking in from the parking lot the new building was glowing. The weather was warm. Excitement drifted in the breeze.

Inside, live jazz blew into every space and people gathered at small tables crowded by appetizer plates and wine glasses as we waded through a very long line for our own copitas de vino.

Wandering into what could have been mistaken for a cozy cabin, we checked out a small room off to the side of the main area, the John James Audubon exhibit. Owls and hawks watched over us as we viewed his original large-as-life drawings. Our state bird, the Cardinal, made an appearance along with other birds that can be found in NC.

Ah, the impressive Golden Eagle! This is Audubon’s drawing, the real bird can be found at Grandfather Mountain.

Leaving the main building we strolled over to the new building that was completed just last year (April 2010). As we snuck a peak into Iris, a “sophisticated, full-service” restaurant where we would have dinner soon, we entered the gallery along a glass paneled walkway. I awed at the optical illusions before us. We had been transported to a big city art museum and as we passed between rooms, the ceiling asked the same question each time: Light or no light? Socket or panel?

Like Rodin’s Two Hands, noticing the unexpected was all in our perspective.

8:30pm came (the last reservation time, open till 10pm) and we took our seats in the well-lit, serenely draped dining room. Perspective was again toying with us and I gazed at the wall behind me. How do such heavy twigs, some as big around as my wrist, create the illusion of wildly tranquil whisps?

After our NC crabcake appetizer, we shared bits of each other’s dinner: local Trout, risotto and the Sea Bass special. Amazing.

Walking back to car, the full moon was intense and magical. I was reminded of all the eyes that have ever been struck by it’s glow, of all the things those eyes have helped hands create to express the mind and spirit of an individual, and a culture – that we now view in large white spaces dedicated to the celebration of human invention.

I am thankful for that opportunity. For the truth that things have changed and will continue to. And I will try to be as open as the moon as they do.

I Heart Mom – Part I, Friday

My mom is coming to town this weekend and my sister and I have things fairly planned out. We are the types to enjoy just going with it, whatever it may be, finding that some of the best times are had when stumbled upon. (See my last post on doing downtown in under an hour). But when family’s in town some planning goes a long, long way. It not only reduces time wasted, well, planning, but it ensures smooth transitions, fun adventures and down time (a very important factor to factor in).

So, if Mom’s in town. Or Dad. Or the whole family. Here are some tips and advice on things to do downtown and how to go about planning a fun family weekend in Raleigh.


Let’s say Mom is coming in after work. You’re initial thought may be that things will be rushed or one of you may be tired, but don’t underestimate the potential of a Friday evening. For Saturday to be the best day of her life, duh, you’ll need to consider the following for dinner on Friday – food, energy, weather.

Choose the restaurant carefully. You could just hop over to your favorite spot, ya know show Mom the places you frequent, but I suggest going somewhere special. That doesn’t mean expensive, it just means somewhere that has a bit of flair or attribute that you can comment on so that Mom feels special. Like, It’s nice out, let’s go to Raleigh Times to sit outside. Or, Irregardless Cafe has music, that would be nice while we eat.

*I want to mention Cafe Caturra as another good option because they do wine tastings on the weekends, but the food was sub-par when I was there last week. So, use it as an idea. (If you know of another good wine tasting spot, send it in!)*

Now, you’ve taken time to listen to her, catch her up on your week/life and restore your energy (and sanity from the work week). A movie might be another old stand-by you grapple for in efforts to plan the rest of the evening, but use caution. This would be the perfect place to doze off or become bored or worst of all, dear ole Mom may start feeling like she’s missing out on face time with you.

The key to keep in mind = all of your plans strike a balance between two things: Face time & Fun.

Stay tuned for I Heart Mom -Part II: Saturday

Get a dose of downtown in under an hour

With 3 minutes to spare…

I parked in front of Father and Son Antiques. Paid the meter. Walked down Fayetteville Street, by far the busiest street downtown, with my dog (who stopped to take care of some biznas and was offered training lessons by a nice man leaving the courthouse). Bought a Hawaiian slice at the new organic joint, Z Pizza, at 412 Fayetteville Street – in between Bank of America and the ice rink – and leisurely ate in the sun.

Then, I walked back to my car, dropped off my backpack and very happy Golden Retriever, and strolled into F&S. I headed to the left and upstairs to Beehive Studios. Vintage stuff stuff stuff, clothes and art by local talent. Ah, and handmade soaps. Yum. It was homey without the privacy of personal items and doors, studioish without the clean-cut walls and welcoming committee.

…a call for artists. and sink for the hands that make the magic happen.

…a lace, country-day curtain hangs out with black & white photography.

…mo. ’nuff said.

…be-friend mischief.

At the back of the store was Southern Swank Retro, where I had actually planned to spend most of my time. But herein lies the golden key to why these just-get-downtown-for-one-hour-a-week trips are life-changing. There is work still to be done, plans still to be made, but downtown has created an atmosphere of coffee shops, restaurants, retail stores and bars around every corner that allow you to just go with it. The best part is letting the plan change and not asking a directional question beyond your next step. Don’t we all need a break from asking ourselves – Where to next? Where is all of this going?

Then, with those last 3 minutes, I made a purchase and was back out on Martin Street, driving home to write this article for you.

February. Water and the Year of the Rabbit.

February marks another month of winter down. It’s Valentine’s Day and Black History Month. For me, it’s also five of my favorite peoples’ birthdays. They are Aquarius and Pisces in the Year of the Rabbit. These things that warm the wintry-heart are important to uncover when gray skies keep rolling in, so throughout the rest of winter I will be periodically posting a short list of things that have recently brightened my day or I hope will do so in the days ahead. Here’s to artificially generating the effects of UV rays!

Redress Raleigh hosted a clothing swap the size of King’s Barcade this past Sunday. I scored some great items including rosebud earrings, cute flats and a never-worn pair of Men’s New Balance shoes for the hubby. An amazing amount was available to take home and leftover to be donated to the women’s shelter.

The park that has been there for me as a college kid, young public relations professional and now, writer, is finally getting her make-over. You’re going to be beautiful, Moore Square.

Living in Downtown Raleigh continues to progress towards the feasibly fun versus the impossibly annoying. City Center Medical Group opens their office in the Progress Energy Building on Davie Street. Up next, a grocery store!

February First Friday! The Downtown Dame will be at The Union – they’re makin bomb promises! And who doesn’t love alliteration?

What can’t you like about the words donation, only and yoga? Blue Lotus at 401 N. West Street – Fri and Sat – proceeds go to a program for at-risk teenage girls.

I’ll leave you with a Sunny-Jenny tip for the work week: In your homeward-bound dash, slow down and stop off at the library. If there is a cafe, order a warm drink (coffee, tea or cider perhaps). Then head over to the kid’s section, pick up an old childhood favorite (shouldn’t take you long or the use of a computer to find something). Read a few lines, let the illustrations seep in. Take a picture even. Who cares if it’s cheesy. It’s relaxing and the images will flood your subconscious with happy-drugs tailor made just for you by your brain. Which also affords you the opportunity to be thankful, another happiness inducing practice, for a healthy one.

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