- The Scout Guide -

Scout talks with MA Allen

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The Scout Guide catches up with designer, MA Allen.  Be sure to follow her on facebook and instagram to see what she is up to!

1. Please tell me about your business and what you do.

I own MA Allen Interiors, a full-service residential and commercial interior design firm.  We work on new construction, remodel and decorating projects varying in size, with a turn key approach.

2. How did you get there?

I graduated from UNC with a degree in Poli Sci and Spanish, so it has been a winding road!  Ended up going back to school for a degree in Interior Design at Meredith College  and was fortunate to have a great job with an interior design firm while in school.  A couple of years after completing my degree, I started MA Allen Interiors.  And this past year I purchased a historic building and renovated it for our office.  Its been a total whirlwind!

3. Favorite aspect of what you do?

Probably the beginning and the end! I love building that initial concept and nothing is more gratifying than seeing the completed end result!

4. What inspires you?

I am inspired by travel—total case of wanderlust I have.  I also seem to find inspiration in the everyday from sometimes the simplest things that just happen to strike a cord with a project I am working on.

5. Any news with your business?

New location at 1020 Glenwood Ave is still the biggest news.  We are enjoying settling into the new space and showing it off to clients and friends.  We are going to join First Friday Gallery Walk in May with the plan to spotlight emerging artists and there is a lot of excitement about that around the office.

6. Favorite local dining spot?

I love Poole’s Diner.  Looking forward to the opening of Standard Foods!!

7. Favorite local shop?

So many faves these days…Vermillion for me, Progeny for baby Lil, Father & Son for quirky midcentury modern finds…

8. Best kept secret of the Triangle?

Humdinger Juice.  Not sure how much of a secret it is now, but I am addicted and cannot live without their balance juice delivered to my doorstep.

Visit MA Allen Interiors website for more information, or call 919-699-3131.


Fearrington Getaway!

My husband’s birthday is right after the holidays, and after a big family trip to Florida, what better time to have a (mini) vacation from our vacation out at Fearrington.  And we really needed it, after some double doozies of family illness– we even had to cut our getaway to just one night- but even just a night at Fearrington proved to be so relaxing and restorative!  We even made plans with friends to come out to dinner, as they also have a birthday around the same time.  It was wonderful!   With Valentine’s less than a week away, what better time to post!  Here is a little visual of our quick getaway!

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We arrived Saturday afternoon, just in time for check in and a quick walk around the lake for a little exploring… I love these cement sheep sculptures…  fv wkend (4)

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The village was abuzz, they were setting up a wedding at the Fearrington Barn. fv wkend (14)

After our “fitness stroll,” we arrived promptly at 4 p.m. at Fearrington House for afternoon tea.  We snagged a great spot right by the roaring fire- so cozy! fv wkend (6)

I went with Fearrington House blend and honey went with the rooibos. fv wkend (7)

They brought out a tower of confections, savory and sweet, with clotted cream, beautiful butter and homemade preserves…. what a treat!  I was hungry and our dinner reservation wasn’t until 8:30 that evening.  An unheard of hour in our lives these days, it’s almost like when we met, in New York City, with regular 9-ish p.m. dining hours! (cray cray, I tell ya!)

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And lucky, hungry me, my husband does not eat wheat, so that meant… the more the merrier for me!  And best of all, they brought out a beautiful alternative plate for him with non-gluten treats.  Equally delish.  I relinquished the macaron since it was made of almonds. fv wkend (9) fv wkend (10)

Studying the menu- note the hours!  Wednesday- Sunday 6-9 p.m.  fv wkend (12)

The photo of Fearrington House that was well-liked on my Instagram!  What’s not to like, an award winning, Relais & Châteaux inn, not to mention, super-talented, James Beard nominated chef, Colin Bedford at the helm!  We had a little bit more time to toodle around the village before our plan to meet for drinks at the bar and then dinner at 8:30.  My kind of timeline!

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Winter sky…

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A fly-by at one of the south’s best independent book store, McyIntyre’s Books. We were  lucky enough to spot our friend’s just-published novel, Save Me, by Kristyn Kusek Lewis.

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And after that, a quick stop in at Dovecote, fun etiquette book for HIM and cute wrapping paper for the next holiday… Valentine’s! fv wkend (16) fv wkend (17)

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thumbing through The Big Book of Chic, I had to snap a pic of a fave color combo…. alas, all this non-agenda, relaxation and taking it all in, time was slipping away, I had to get back so I could clean up before dinner!  Suddenly 8 p.m. drinks seemed a tad too early.  Maybe I was onto something with those 9 p.m. dinner of yore…!

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Alas, I was able to squeak in a relaxing bath and emerge squeaky clean.  Heated towel rack, anyone??? fv wkend (18)

Our friends who are chronically late, were on time, and us just a few minutes late… but not too late for the tastiest cocktail, the maître d’! fv wkend (19)

Wine Director, Max Kast was great, attentive and took the time to talk about the wines and not one ounce of snooty wine expert!  We were amazed at how he could talk about the different wines year after year– quelle palette! fv wkend (20) fv wkend (21)

my lobster with all sorts of delicate and nuanced fixin’s and foam! delish. fv wkend (22)

We took a tour of the house- beautiful room for private events upstairs in the house, perfect for a small wedding or a family celebration and then we stumbled into the wine cellar!  If you are interested in learning more about wine, be sure to keep up with Fearrington’s tastings + events here! fv wkend (24)

It was a lovely dinner, that naturally had to be topped off with their signature warm souffle.  Fun to read up more on what to eat at Fearrington House, here! fv wkend (25)

Imagine our delight when we returned to our room to find handmade chocolates with our turn down service… and port (my husband’s fave!) to enjoy as a nightcap. fv wkend (26)

Nothing like a wonderful meal of beautiful food the night before to make you hungry for breakfast!  fv wkend (28)

Eggs Benedict, yes please!  Fresh squeezed OJ, why yes, again!  I wanted to stuff myself silly on the breads + croissants they brought us but… I had reached capacity.  More exciting, the newlyweds from the wedding at the barn were seated right behind us- so cute!! fv wkend (29)

When not staring at my plate, this was my window view, perfect, as I am obsessed with this garden every time I see it at Fearrington!  One Christmas I got my father-in-law this book, My kind of Garden by David Hicks, and then promptly had to get my own copy!  I love the English style and when I had a moment to read more about Fearrington and how it all started, it made sense!  Those well kept gardens and wonderful way of doing things had influenced the Fitch family when they were forming Fearrington in the 1970s/80s. fv wkend (30)

Alas, it was almost time to start packing up, but we had a wee more on the agenda– we had spied these lovely bikes (or fixies, if you will!) and had pledged to explore all of FV.  So we set out, a similar course to our fitness stroll on the previous day, by the pool and croquet court, but added another (hilly) loop, that took us all back into the neighborhood that I had never seen before!  It was brrrrrr cold (especially on a windy, no gears-fixie), but fun to find another tucked away area I had known was there but had not ever explored.

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It was a relaxing get away and I certainly hope we can go again sooner rather than later!  Explore Fearrington’s Winter Getaway package and check it out for yourself!

Be sure to go to their annual Folk Art Festival coming up on the 20th!  It’s family fun for all, stay for a casual lunch or dinner at The Granary or The Goat!

Call 919-542-2121 for more info.

2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC

Tell them Scout sent you!



Valentine’s Gift List



Valentine’s Day is almost here!  From small sweet gestures to grand statements, here is your go-to gift list!

1- If It’s Paper Clever assortment of  Valentine’s cards

2- Vermillion Steal her heart with this PS1 fringe satchel

3- Purple Puddle Beautiful floral design delivered to your doorstep- call 919-967-2919

4- Monkee’s of Raleigh Frisky animal print flats, sure to be a staple

5- Bailey’s Fine Jewelry Sparkly stud earrings by Tacori

6- Dogwood Collective Gardenia scented hand lotion, room spray and candles by Kai

7- Monkee’s of Chapel Hill Gigi New York clutch- personalize it for  extra oomph

8- SOUTH Luxurious Molton Brown body wash

9- Fine Feathers Beautiful shift dress with just the right colors

10- Moon & Lola Playful zodiac cocktail ring

11- Southern Season Chocolatey sweets, gift baskets and more

12- Peacock Alley Give your heart with this Vietri dish

13- William Travis Jewelry A Valentine’s wish come true with this wishbone pendant

14- The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery  Valentine’s cupcakes abound, for pre-order, call 919-821-4223


Lasting children’s room design!

Betsy Anderson Interiors is a mother-daughter interior design team, Betsy Anderson and Katie O’Neal.

Here’s a fun interior design take by by this talented design duo on “Le Choix du Roi.”







Those royal families were no dummies!  The monarchs lasted as long as they did because they had a plan: insure sustainability and diversify!  Alas, I digress….

Love these precious children’s rooms, combining classic with modern.  The masculine vintage antler chandelier combined with blurring the lines-patriotic palette of reddish-orange, white and blue!  I can totally see the chandelier living well into adulthood for this young fellow– future man cave!  {kind of kidding, but really, a library or office!}  The blue shibori textiles mixed with the classic bed frame and crisp white walls keep it fresh.  Modern shelving that will accommodate tropies, books and collectibles as the young boy ages…

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In the little sister’s room, the old school oversize floral drapes mixed with the modern stripe on the wall and drum shade keep it modern and fresh. Like Dorothy Draper meets Dwell!  These details will also live well after the crib has been moved out and will easily transition into a playful little girl’s room, even into the tween and teen years!  {hello zebra rug!  and ikat throw pillow!}

Call Betsy Anderson Interiors for sophisticated design with whimsical details that will last long after your child has moved out of the pram!


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Debut memoir at nearly 92!

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Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Penelope Easton, a locally-based memoirist, but not just any memoirist, as she is heading into her 92nd year, has a PhD and is also a World War II and Korean War Vet!  Penelope’s debut memoir, Learning to Like Muktuk: An Unlikely Explorer in Territorial Alaska, was published this past fall by Oregon State University Press.

Penelope’s publicist reached out to me and I jumped at the chance to meet her- I mean, how often do you get to meet someone in their 90s who has just written a book and a female World War II vet?! (there were about 400,000 female soldiers, with a total of 16 million US soldiers total, FYI.)  And how many nonagenarians do you know that can email at that?!

We emailed back and forth and Penelope kindly invited me over for tea where she resides at The Forest at Duke, a lovely retirement community in Durham.   Penelope’s concise directions, despite renovations and additions going on at the The Forest at Duke, got me exactly where I needed to meet her at 10 a.m. sharp. As we walked back to her apartment, we chatted as I took it all in- a friend of mine has been looking at retirement communities with her parents had described her tours to me as basically like college- I noted to myself that she is right, a lot of activities were in our midst– chorus, movies + outings!  Penelope told me she was curious to meet a blogger and that I looked about like what she expected- phew, no surprises!  She proceeded to serve me rosehip tea and toast with rosehip preserves in her well appointed and eclectic apartment, where she lives independently, surrounded by art she has collected from her world travels.

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Not being a terribly organized journalist, we had a very organic conversation about her experience in Alaska and her roots in Vermont (and the past 80+ years!) and I kept coming back to the fact she was really a proponent of foodways in the Territory of Alaska back in 1948.  Penelope informed me that 10% of my vitamin C requirement for the day would be met thanks to the rosehip preserves and tea!   She explained that the Alaskans knew to eat native-growing rosehips because it kept them from getting sick- scurvy, etc.   Naturally I had to ask her where she procured the rosehip fare- on outings that The Forest at Duke takes her on to Southern Season.

photo 4 Food Resources of Alaska, by Penelope Easton, published in 1950, a booklet intended to familiarize hospital and health workers with native foods, divided into the regions of Alaska.  I asked Penelope who designed the “clip art” –someone in the office!

Penelope took the job in Territorial Alaska after receiving her masters in Public Health Nutrition because it was a high paying job at $100 a week!  When she arrived in Alaska she was shocked at the scarcity of imported food supplies and the derision of native foodways.  Measles and tuberculosis epidemics were real public health threats and there was also a lack of consideration of native tradition and knowledge.  At that time the population was 100,000 with half of that population being native.

In her review of Easton’s book, Deborah Tippet, professor of human environmental sciences at Meredith College, wrote, “Her stories, told with goodwill, respect and humor, made this a book I could not put down. Her day-to-day experiences in coping with the challenges of life in Alaska in the late 1940s were often funny and touching. It is the story of a young, adventuresome, professional woman who dared to question common practice and act on behalf of her clients, which put her ahead of her time and profession.”

Our conversation meandered on, I snapped photos with my phone, as I do — Penelope asked me- “What are you doing?”  I explained, “I take pictures of everything!”

Penelope had some great things to say-

  • 1-Moderation in everything.  (my granny always said that too!  go ahead, take that bite of chocolate, but not the whole box!)
  • 2-On kids–taking a bigger picture look at getting the nutrients children need- so what if they only eat green beans at dinner- over the course of the month, they will likely make up for it!
  • 3-Trying foods in a culture in which you are not familiar– must try and be gracious– always!! food is culture and you shan’t be disrespectful.  I told her my story of walking through an open market in Kota Bharu, Malaysia and taking a bite of what I thought was delicious caramel and turned out to be some sort of fish salty paste, it wasn’t that the taste was awful, it was expecting sweet and chewy and getting soft, salty- fishy!  Nevertheless, I took another bite, said thank you and smiled!

It was getting close to lunch– I had to ask– was the food at The Forest at Duke good?? Yes, Penelope assured me it was wonderful and went on to rave about the chef!  Later in the week, while driving to Chapel Hill, I was lucky enough to catch Penelope on the radio- this time on The State of Things with Frank Stasio.  You can listen here!

Penelope will discuss Learning to Like Muktuk at McIntyres’s Books at Fearrington Village at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 15. On Friday, April 10 at 12 p.m., Easton will lead a class on Alaskan foods at Southern Season Cooking School. Easton’s memoir will be of particular interest to readers wanting to learn more about the history of public health and food culture. The cooking class is also a rare opportunity to learn about indigenous Alaskan foods.

Call Southern Season to sign up for the class:  929-7133

McIntyre’s Books at Fearrington Village:

Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, NC or call 542-2121

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Penelope next to her Masai batik picked up on a trip to Africa. 

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CAM Raleigh’s Inaugural Women’s Holiday Luncheon

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Martha Schneider, of La Maison, a long-time supporter of CAM!

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This past December, the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh hosted an inaugural Women’s Luncheon to celebrate the bold vision of the museum.

Lunch was provided by AC Restaurants and included delightful treats from bakery, Lucette Grace and chocolate makers, Videri.  I was thrilled as a Scout Guide was placed at every attendee’s place for the lunch.  The museum directors even told me that the bright and punchy rhodamine hue had inspired their tablesetting! Love that!  The museum was abuzz as it was filled with supporters of CAM who were genuinely excited to see one another and be there, despite a blustery, rainy day, the yellow doors of CAM emanated sunshine.

It was a wonderful way to kick off the holidays and quite inspiring as they announced some exciting news- a new way for women to support the museum– as founding members of The Betty Eichenberger Adams Society!

This society honors Betty Eichenberger Adams as a legacy as an artist, arts educator and community leader. As a founding member, the society offers benefits which include silver level membership at CAM, as well as other opportunities to connect with some of Raleigh’s most inspiring and effective women!  Click here to join this wonderful and influential group of women before January 30th.

To learn more about CAM, go visit and visit their site for more info.

As always, First Fridays are always a great way to experience art and the vibrant scene in downtown Raleigh.  February 6th will also feature a new show at the Contemporary Art Museum.

409 West Martin Street, Raleigh


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