North Carolina’s Furniture Capitol
In a state that has more than its share of trees, it makes sense that a multiplicity of furniture companies made their home near the foothills of North Carolina. Does the name Thomasville bring anything to mind? If you’ve purchase oak furniture in the past, and in particular, Victorian oak design, the company you bought from was probably Thomasville.
Funny thing—it wasn’t until after we sold our home AND furniture, that it occurred to me this was the brand of furniture we owned. My hubby and I love oak, and I was partial to Victorian Era style. So, we took a Sunday afternoon trip to this quiet town, where one of the furniture companies began.
Thomasville, NC: the Furniture Industry's Roots
When I saw the mural above, the meaning completely escaped me. Standing a few feet from the art work, I couldn’t see the name of the town in the tree’s roots. When I stepped back, I noticed it, and finally understood that Thomasville’s roots were deeply embedded in the furniture industry. See the “fruit” on its branches? You'll find other fascinating art throughout the city by taking a Mural Walk.
The Biggest Chair in Thomasville
Thomasville is noted for the Big Chair—created by to commemorate their town’s history. The original, made of wood, was replaced in 1936 with one that could withstand the elements. It stands proudly near the tiny train station that features a red caboose that is open at times to the public. You can watch trains pass through town at all hours of the day and night via a livestream camera.
The Largest Chest of Drawers in High Point, NC
High Point, a triad city (along with Greensboro and Winston-Salem) is known as the Home-furnishings Capital of the World. Its symbol is World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, towering 36 feet in the air with a pair of socks playfully sticking out of an open drawer as a nod to the city’s hosiery industry. Since 1926 it has been renovated and repainted many times, and disguises a commercial building facade.
The Historic Town of Salem, NC
The original Salem (of Winston-Salem) was home to Moravians, Blacks and Indigenous people in the American South. The historic buildings and interpreters tell the story of its founding. Located near High Point, it's no surprise that Old Salem has an Early Southern Decorative Arts Museum featuring items that would have been created and displayed in homes.
Although the individual buildings were closed on the day we visited, a walk down the center of the street gave us a taste of the cultural history of the early South. Architecture from the 18th century continues to fascinate me. It’s a thing of beauty in my eyes. And who would have guessed that Krispy Kreme Donuts had its beginnings in Old Salem!
For another look at the south, check out my post on Charleston--A Writer's Guide to Travel--one of my favorite historical towns. What are your favorite historical museums? What in particular draws you back to the past? Let me know below!
Letting Go of the Familiar Things
The nomad life can be both freeing and frustrating. Freeing, because I have less stuff to deal with, and fewer responsibilities since I've left my hometown, job, church, friends, and family. Less appointments on my calendar. Fewer options for date night.
But, the nomad life can be frustrating. I don't have the clothes I need for each season because I didn't count on being homeless for a year and a half. Most of my books, files and all of my photos, craft supplies to keep me busy, and, hardest of all, I have only a tiny percentage of my favorite kitchen tools. As I mentioned in last month's blogpost, I'm making do, but it's not the same. I still stubbornly refuse to purchase a new garlic press, even though I need it for almost every dinner I make!
Embracing Gratitude Helps Me Through My Nomad Days
There’s something about being grateful for what I do have, that helps me get through—and even enjoy—my nomad days. Thankful for the roof over my head, and a washer and dryer IN our cabin, and not down the road. Grateful for new (to me) grocery stores that sell organic products and produce. They may not be the brand I'm used to, but they are still organic.
Goodwill has been good to me. I've been able to fill in the gaps in my wardrobe inexpensively, since I did not choose the proper clothing to pack (or not pack), thinking we’d be in our new townhouse by the fall of 2022. Instead, it would be an entire year later. That's four seasons of clothing! I've also found a few pots and pans along with kitchen tools—and even a set of weights.
I've also found ways of exercising, mostly online, Yoga-Go and Grow Young Fitness, both using chairs, since my osteoarthritis excludes me from performing floor exercises. And honestly, the landscape we've encountered is quite hilly and at times, dangerous, as the main road winds around and up and down, mostly through forests. Not a safe environment in which to walk!
But there again, I'm thankful for the ability to drive my car to the grocery store, local restaurants and shopping malls, and a few parks, where I can get out and walk, even for a short while. But I do miss my bike rides around our former neighborhood, and group exercises at the local community center.
One Sunday, we enjoyed a 4.5-mile walk around the largest natural habitat zoo in the world: The North Carolina Zoo We try to explore at least once a week, visiting the larger towns in the area to see the local sights. It's quite an adventure, and you can't beat the price. Another thing to be grateful for in this nomadic life. It satisfies my longings to travel. As long as I'm discovering something new, no matter how small or insignificant, I'm happy!
Embracing the New, the Ordinary and Even the Frustrating
Even something I took for granted—my hairdresser—ended up in a blessing. I found my interim hair stylist after admiring a senior woman’s hair on a visit to a new church one Sunday. She happens to be in the Winston-Salem area, which is accessible from both camps we've volunteered at. And Dara, after I showed her a pic, beautifully imitated my hairdresser Kathy’s technique!
That's another perspective of the nomad life—visiting a variety of churches who worship the same God, but in different ways: some contemporary, others conservative, Some with rock bands and country music, others with traditional hymns and songs led by a small band. We have Christian brothers and sisters everywhere!
And there's always a place to retreat when I need peace and quiet. This outdoor chapel at Camp Mundo Vista is a short (and steep) walk from our cabin, nestled in the Uwharrie Mountain range. It's not my park down the street, nor a place I can bike to, but a quiet respite nonetheless. Another entry for my gratitude journal.
Letting Go of My Idea of Home
A nomad’s home is any place to lay his or her head. Ours at the moment is this quaint camp cabin turned tiny house (yay!) with an added strip kitchen. Spacious and cozy all in one! It might not have comfortable chairs and a dishwasher like our last double-wide, but it’s quiet, safe and has a crockpot and comfy bed! Another change, but we are learning to be grateful and adapt as necessary.
I do whatever I can to make our home livable. In all three locations, I've made sure to have lamps to add ambiance to our environment. Fluorescent lights don't do it for me. So, off I go to our local Goodwill to find the right lamp for our space. Can you see the one in the picture above left? It blends with the pine walls of our cabin. I found it for the incredible price of $3.99 (shade included). And I will leave it behind as a gift for the next occupant, along with extra paper goods.
In lieu of end tables, I got creative and covered a few of the storage bins we carry from place to place. That way, there's no need to clutter the cabin with randomly placed cargo, since we have no closets here..
To summarize, at times in our lives (whether we are nomads or not) we must let go of things we think we need to survive, but in fact, don't. They might be preventing us from living life fully in our sliver years or any stage of life. Because it's when we let go, we see God work in our lives and provide what He knows we need. Isn't that comforting??
Is there anything you need to let go of to enable you to move forward in life? If so, let me know in the comments below!
Well, those are my insights on the nomad life this month. If you (or anyone you know) are a silver sister and would like help in preparing for the next stage of life, click HERE for 10 tips to Prepare You for Your Silver Years and Beyond.
Rethinking My Nomad Life
This post begins my new journey into a life of change. I call it “My Nomad Life.” We all experience change at one time or another, so I hope to give you the courage to flourish in a time of uncertainty and change.
Today, I will share some kitchen hacks I've discovered during our journey. Since our townhouse won't be finished until the fall, my hubby and I have been volunteering at various Christian ministries that offer lodging. We've found it's a double blessing. They bless us with a place to live, and we in turn fill a need neither of us anticipated. And through it all, God is blessing us with a measure of testing and faith—watching Him provide our next location just when we need it.
Why the Necessity for Kitchen Hacks?
So what does that have to do with kitchen hacks? Imaging moving every two to three months to a new location, a different-sized lodging, and an unfamiliar kitchen that does or doesn't have the supplies you normally use to prepare your favorite meals? BTW, if you typically prepare fast food in a microwave, this isn't for you. There are microwaves in every location (including hotels and Airbnb). No worries!
Well, in this nomad journey, I've had to make do with what is available. I can hear some of you say, “What's the problem? Can't you go out and buy what you need?”
I have what I need in our PackRat, but it's hundreds of miles away. Being a minimalist, I certainly don't need an extra one when we finally move into our townhouse. Although I could purchase many of them at Goodwill, we don't have the space to carry them from one location to another. Our two cars, which are essentially our suitcases for a year, are chock full already, and our money has to be used only for necessities.
Kitchen Hacks in Disguise
Some of these are obvious, like using an everyday teaspoon/tablespoon and cup for measuring, as long as it's not a recipe that depends on exact measurements, like a souffle or angel food cake. The large pot with lid I borrowed from the camp kitchen is used for frying eggs, making soup, a casserole, stirfy or chicken cacciatore. After all, pioneers cooked with one iron skillet, and made everything from stew to griddle cakes over the fire.
Since there are no cake or bread pans, I use my Pyrex dish to make a small gluten and dairy-free cake on occasion. And along with my cake, I must have tea! So, in lieu of a teapot, which is packed away, I discovered an alternative: my Yeti travel mug! It keeps my brewed tea (English Breakfast, loose-leaf) hot. I add some honey, collagen, and heated walnut/almond milk. Yum!
This is a favorite hack I accidentally came up with. Since I make all my food from scratch, I like to keep a variety of whole herbs and spices on hand. But, since I don't have the space, I broke down and bought seasoning mixes. Harissa is a North African spice I use in meatloaf or veggies. Curry and Italian seasoning are self-explanatory. Citrus herb is great for steaks, and Herbs de Provence for anything French, including lamb, chicken, zucchini and asparagus.
I had some whole rosemary and stick cinnamon, so I pulverized them in my (believe it or not) coffee grinder, after I had cleaned it thoroughly. Back in my container, I have a coffee grinder specifically for this purpose but hadn't room for it in my travels. Parsley is used in almost every dish, so I dried some fresh organic parsley.
Must-Have Kitchen Supplies
Notice the touches of coastal blue?? It reminds me that some day, Lord willing, we will settle into our home 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. Until then, I will continue to use these hacks even after we move.
No matter the state of your baking sheets (dirty, clean, stainless, aluminum), parchment paper is a worthy investment. You can safely bake on any surface with it, as I have done with meatloaf. Since there were no loaf pans, I formed it on a baking sheet. Easy!
I like to add chopped veggies to almost every meal I make, and meatloaf is no exception. I couldn't live without a processor. I sold my large one and bought this tiny one that is sufficient for our nomadic needs. It can even puree guacamole!
This next hack, although I really wouldn't call it such, is a sharp well-made paring knife (of sorts). This one was a gift from a friend I consider to be a culinary expert. Little did she know how much I depend on this knife! You cannot do without a sharp paring and utility knife.
If you are going to invest in something, make sure it's the best all-purpose knife you can afford. There are so many types to choose from, but this one does all the everyday meal prep work. The next investment would be a knife sharpener if you end up in a place with dull tools. It's a chef’s vexation!
I've managed to make our double-wide trailer (aka The Lodge) a home. All I need is a spot to read and write, and a good hot drink and fragrant candle. I've been a ‘happy camper’ at Hickory Cove Bible Camp. But, it's time to move on. We've had a productive, peaceful and satisfying time here, due to the welcoming nature of the staff. Lord willing, we will continue to bless others as they have blessed us on our nomad journey to the coast.
Which of my hacks have you used? Have you needed to ‘make do’ with something in your kitchen through the years? I'd love to hear how you creatively solved your problem! Let me know below.
Immersed in the Woods of NC
I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at our first stop in Western North Carolina. When I finally settled down and figured out my surroundings, I was surprised and amused at what I discovered.
Hickory Cove Bible Camp, where we are volunteering until mid-March, was tucked away in a wooded area in Taylorsville, 20 minutes or more from the nearest store--unless, of course, you are talking about Dollar General, which seems to show up no matter which direction we are driving! Evidently, they are found in the remotest area, and folks are known to stop there often for food, hardware, kitchen or garden items, makeup or candy. Whatever they forgot to pick up the day before. I vowed I would never be one of "those" and so far, I've managed to keep my distance.
NC: A Temperate Zone
I found the local grocery store display above to be a bit puzzling, since North Carolina is generally a temperate zone. Poor kids! They'll be hankering for snow that will never come. Or, at best, only one day every few years,
Speaking of weather, each day is different. Although it rains often, and the temps fluctuate during the day between 49 and 69 degrees in February, one thing is consistent. Gorgeous sunsets!! This state has a corner on the best colors and glow ever!
The History of Street Signs
No one has told me this, but, I don't need a history lesson to figure out how the streets and roads are named in this wooded farmland with rolling hills and dales. Long ago, when there were no street signs, a body, when asked for directions would say, "Go up the road apiece until you get to Bowman's Dairy, turn right, down the hill and you'll see it: first building on your left."
Yep. That's how it happened for sure. Friendship Church Road, Wayside Church Road, Rink Dam Road and Miller's Garage all describe buildings, businesses or structures located either in the past or presently. It's quite charming!
Hickory Cove Bible Camp
We have been warmly welcomed at Hickory Cove by the dedicated staff. My husband has been helping with maintenance during our time here, getting the camp ready for a very busy summer season. I, on the other hand, have been helping sweet Sylvia, the executive assistant (below) sorting supplies in the nurse's quarters, making phone calls for Angel Tree, organizing 15 years of files and various other odd jobs. I'm loving it!
The Mountain Lodge Decor
The camp has graciously allowed us to stay in their double wide trailer dubbed "The Lodge" while we are here. Look at the cozy view I have each morning while I complete my writing tasks! You'd never guess we are living in the North Wing of a trailer--it has four bedrooms and two baths. More than sufficient for the two of us. Our nightly routine usually includes a walk up the road to the mailbox (a mere eighth of a mile or less both ways.) But, it does give us a bit of fresh night air and exercise. It is eerily quiet for the woods, but peaceful. I hardly ever see a creature other than a squirrel or two, which is surprising, although I do hear the birds twittering away most mornings.
Friendly Faces and Places
People in the Piedmont area of North Carolina are friendly and talkative. Whether I'm in a store, restaurant or doctor's office, someone is sure to strike up a conversation about literally anything from the last customer's garden to their stash of candles they need to donate. So fun!
Hickory: Furniture Capital of North Carolina
Since there are so many trees in North Carolina, it makes sense that it's known for its quality furniture. We owned two bedroom sets back in Illinois made in this state. We visited the Hickory Furniture Mart one day and was amazed at the variety all under one roof. Too bad our future home is 5 hours to the east!
Hope you've enjoyed this peek into our nomad life. It's an adventure I never thought I would experience, but I know it will make us appreciate our townhouse when we finally settle in. God has been good to make all the connections just when we need them. Can't wait to see what He has in store next!
Have you ever been without a home for a period of time? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Check out my St. Augustine Adventure, too!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.