Shopping Uptown

It was cold this weekend. I won’t say it was dreary but it was an excellent day to go shopping indoors.

There is a particular cluster of businesses in Uptown to whom I’d like to give a shout out. They are all right next to each other, not far from a parking lot (so you don’t have to parallel park if you don’t want to), and, if you’re lucky, there’s a restaurant open right next to them. Then we’ll round out the trip with a visit to Books & Crannies, our local independent book store.

Before we start though, I just wanted to mention to any who didn’t know that the Daily Grind has branched into donuts. I belong to the wine club there and had to pick up my December and January bottles. Naturally, I came home with donuts too. Pictured in the photo above are the Bacon Waffle, Salted Caramel, the classic confectionary sugar, and the Trashcan (so named because it is topped with whatever is left over from making the other donuts). They are all wonderful and substantial. I do not want to know about the calories.

Fido’s Finds & Kittie’s Collectibles
119 E Main Street

Fido’s Finds & Kittie’s Collectibles is entirely volunteer run and all the proceeds benefit the local SPCA. They are not normally open on Saturdays because it’s difficult to find volunteers to work on the weekends. They do have “basement sales” on weekends every now and again but that’s a completely different thing.

Jewelry at Fido’s Finds

Recently, Fido’s put out a call for more donations. Particularly furniture. Fido’s is essentially a thrift store but, after a recent move from a couple of storefronts down the street, they have become a great deal more upscale.

Table Settings at Fido’s Finds

The old storefront was quaint and significantly smaller. Now, they have room to spread out and really show off what they have. And they have some beautiful things.

Figurines at Fido’s Finds

If you have items to donate, they have a long list of things that they cannot accept. This list includes things like clothing, car seats, christmas trees, computers or computer accessories, electronics, exercise equipment, entertainment centers, big appliances, mattresses, pianos, or outdated media like VHS tapes or cassettes.

What they do have now are some really exceptional finds. Like this vintage Royal typewriter. And it’s sitting on an antique school desk priced at $75.

Vintage Royal Typewriter siting on a Vintage School Desk

Or this vintage “gentleman’s chair” that was on sale for $199.

Vintage Gentleman’s Chair on sale for $199

Normal business hours for Fido’s are Tuesday through Friday from 10 to 5. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for special weekend openings (like this one) and basement sales.

Pieces From The Past
115 E. Main Street
(276) 336-8812

Outside Pieces From The Past, there is a sandwich board that says “Always Buying Nice Old Things”. Inside the shop, owner Vince Reis operates Doctor Cane Chair Caning and co-owner Terri Reis meticulously researches and labels the oodles of antiques they have in the shop.

Doctor Cane Chair Caning

The displays here are gorgeous and they have an eye for what is colorful and pretty. If you are collecting a particular line of glassware, this is where I would look first. You can tell that they take pride in the things that they sell in the way that they are displayed and the prices are extremely good. In the Harlequin collection below, the individual pieces are marked from $3 to $8.

Homer Laughlin “Harlequin” 1937 – 1964

Everything is meticulously clean and cared for. Here, they have noted that the Oklahoma clay used in this Frankoma Pottery set gives it its unique color. I love the little extra that they are giving you in these displays.

In this Frankoma Pottery display, the coffee cups are marked $12 a piece, the taller cups are $10 and the bowl is marked at $22.

This handpainted Lefton tea set is absolutely gorgeous. The picture doesn’t at all do it justice because I’ve scaled it down for loading speed and storage space. In real life, the colors are bursting with vibrancy and the image is just as crisp as it can be. It was priced at $45.

Hand Painted Lefton Tea Set

There is much more here than just glassware. They have furniture. There was an antique bird cage for $40 and a nice bistro set in the window. They have antique books. They even had roller skate keys. If you are looking for quality, possible upper scale antiques at very good prices, this is your store.

Antique Books

Normal business hours for Pieces From The Past are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11:30 to 2:00.

Junk & Disorderly
107 E. Main Street

Junk & Disorderly specializes in upcycled furniture and always has a selection available and more coming in. I don’t know how she finds so much.

But, beyond that, this store has every kind of antique you could possibly think of and some that I’m pretty sure that you can’t. Much of it is standard fare but, if you are good at farmhouse chic, this is a good shop for the antique milk can to use in a flower arrangement. I discovered this store last fall when I happened across it on a Sunday afternoon. This may be the only place open for shopping on Sunday afternoons.

This standing mirror was priced at $75 and ended up coming home with me.

Standing Mirror

Pro tip: come in and go straight to the back of the store, past the outdoor items and the home decor and the kitchen antiques. This area is where the kid’s stuff is but I always find something incredibly unique back here. I once found a huge doll house for $30. There was once an adjustable dress form for sewing. And I’ve already mentioned the mirror.

This time there was this guy. If I had grandkids, this would be in my house right now. Is it just me or does $32 seem incredibly low for something like this?

Antique Spring Action Horse

Normal hours for Junk & Disorderly are Thursday and Friday from 11 to 5, Saturday from 11 to 3 and Sunday from 12 to 3.

I wasn’t in luck with the restaurant this time. It was closed. So my last stop was to Books and Crannies, our local independent bookstore.

Books & Crannies
50 E. Church Street, Suite 4

The first time I went to shop at Books & Crannies, I couldn’t find it. The address is Church Street but it faces onto Broad Street. It was only because I took advantage of the big parking lot across the street that I eventually found the entrance.

I’ve been in many times since then and the owner, DeShanta Hairston, has always been extraordinarily helpful. She seems to remember me and my preferences and I’ve always enjoyed what she has suggested.

Books & Crannies Store Front on Broad Street

This time I had an idea. As I said previously, I belong to the wine club through the Daily Grind coffee shop and, although you always get a choice of wines each month, I’ve learned that I do better if I let Danny (the owner) pick for me. When he says a wine is outstanding, it really, truly is.

My thought was this: what if the book store could do the same thing with books? She seems to know me and my preferences and I trust her judgment. This could open me up to a lot of good books that I might not ever try on my own.

We tried a photo with the mask on but it didn’t come out well. We held our breaths for this one.

The owner wasn’t in but I decided to take the same chance on Rose, the lady who was manning the desk. She was reading Moby Dick and we got into a discussion on classics and I think I could be in good hands. I told her the last book I read and really enjoyed was They Both Die at the End. I think that may have gotten us on kind of a death theme but I’m alright with that because, since that book, I’ve reread Mort by Terry Pratchett and its sequel, Reaper Man. This is a fairly persistent theme.

Books & Crannies

So, I’ve come home with Under the Whispering Door and Piranesi, and a free advanced copy of Alice Isn’t Dead. I’m quite happy with my idea and her choices. I don’t know if I’m being lazy or adventurous. I haven’t read the books yet, so I could be wrong. The descriptions on Good Reads look fantastic though.

If you’ve heard the news that Books & Crannies may be moving, Rose reports that this is likely later in the year – possibly even next fall or winter. The shop needs more space and I know that I’ll love to see it grow but I’m a little spoiled by having easy parking right next to the store.

No one wants to see this gal attempt to parallel park.

A Onesie Party, a Popup Art Sale & a Daintea Pairing

Somewhere there is an inventory manager scratching his head at the sudden demand for animal-themed onesies in Axton, Virginia.

At least, we’d like to think so.

Mountain Valley Brewing threw such a successful onesie/pajama party this past Friday that it may become an annual event. After all, a lot of people have onesies. now.

Even the Dog has a Onesie

Some people wore pajamas. Some people wore a onesie. Some people wore normal clothes. The winner wore traditional red long johns with a blasting area warning on the back flap. Owners Herb and Peggy were Beatles-themed with a walrus and an octopus.

The Walrus and the Octopus

The temperature was perfect for the event. Cold enough to wear something warm but warm enough to not need a bath robe accessory. Brett Bass played old country (think old Hank) and Daddy Q’s BBQ food truck provided hearty BBQ dinners complete with ho cakes.

Hearty BBQ Dinner Complete with Ho Cake

Saturday was glorious. Warm and sunshine-y. It was a perfect day to take a hike or catch up on deferred yard work. Sunday was more weather-challenged but packed with things to do.

Martinsville UP has been organizing these pop up art sales in Uptown Martinsville and they’ve been very successful. This one was held at 20 Walnut Street, just across from the circus mural and a door or two down.

The sale was from 12 to 6 and we had rain, snow and sunshine all in that span. Henry’s Fresh Roast warmed up visitors brewing up samples of sumatra coffee and selling whole bean bags and macaroons.

Henry’s Fresh Roast Sold Macaroons and Coffee

Next to Henry’s Fresh Roast was a very shy artist. I didn’t catch her name but, if you like her work, you can follow up with Martinsville Up, the organizer of the event, to find her.

Fused Glass Artist Aleen Wilson (whose studio, Gallery 22, is next door) had a selection of functional glass art and hanging pieces. Her specialty is fused glass but she’s been teaching me stained glass over the past few months. She’s very versatile. If you are interested in any of the pieces pictured below or would like to commission something in particular, her contact info is (276) 806-7186 and

Fused Glass from Gallery 22

I particularly liked this piece that looks like a fish to me.

Fused Glass from Gallery 22

WoodWoRx had a beautiful display of jewelry. I really failed them in the photo department because their display was so striking and my photos were so … not. They have many good photos on their Facebook page and I encourage you to check them out.

Wood cut earrings by WordWoRx

Their earrings are incredibly lightweight. One of these pair will start working its way to an owl-loving friend in Houston next weekend.

Owl-shaped Earrings by WoodWoRx

Kay Martin Wagoner is the artist behind Kalela Designs. I have a fondness for her screen-printed glass art but take a look at her Facebook page to see a variety of different glass art as well as faux leather earrings!

Screen Printed Glass Plaque by Kay Martin Wagoner
Glass Fusion Screen Printed Art Piece by Kay Martin Wagoner

Charm Cat is the greeting card business of local Bassett water color artist, Ashleigh Pritchard. She is a phenomenal artist and has a great sense of humor that she has combined in her greeting cards and blank note stock. Her website is set up for online orders so be sure to check it out.

Charm Cat Watercolor Stationery and Fine Art

Last but certainly not least, Grattan Creek had a large selection of handcrafted soaps and wood work for sale. They also have online ordering available through their web site.

Besides the lavender, honeysuckle, and olive oil bars you may have heard of before, they also have several beer soaps made with hops from Henry County’s Mountain Valley Brewing. Lime Ginger Sour Beer, Cedarwood & Sage, and Bourbon ‘Backy are all beer soaps that boast the amino acids, antioxidants, and antibacterial benefits that come from the hops and the rich lather that comes from the carbs and sugars in the beer.

Handcrafted Artisan Soaps from Grattan Creek

They also had some beautiful wood work that I don’t see currently available on their website.

A Beautiful Grinder by Grattan Creek

Bowls, soap savers, bottle openers, burnishing rods, BBQ grilling hooks, and even birdhouses are available online but you will have to contact them directly about the grinders. If you’re local, they also have items for sale at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke.

Grattan Creek’s Display at the Pop up Sale

The snow started in earnest on the way out to Mountain Valley Brewing to the Beer Pairing with Daintea. To be honest, I had no idea what Daintea sold. I know that they are new and have a shop on Rives Road, just before the bridge, on the Walgreens side of the road. They’ve been open awhile now but I just haven’t made it by. All I knew that they sold was bubble tea and I don’t even know what that is.

Four Course Menu for the Beer Pairing

It turns out that, while Daintea does sell bubble tea, they also make fresh pastries and savory treats. They worked with Herb and Peggy to pair up four of their selections with four brews from Mountain Valley and they did a superb job. Peggy said that they discovered that “bold goes with bold”.

I particularly liked the garlic bun paired with the porter but the strawberry tres leche with Kookie Rooster (hints of coconut) was incredible as well.

Going clockwise: Garlic Bun, Pork Lumpia, Strawberry Tres Leche, Chicken Empanada

The event was only scheduled from 1 to 2 but the pairings were so good and the company so excellent that the one hour stretched into several. I haven’t had such a nice time in a long, long while.

This was very close to a perfect day. Even with the far-less-than-perfect weather.

I hope it is a harbinger of the spring and summer that’s on its way.

Haw River Park in the Fall

One last blast from 2021 before we get started on 2022. So many events have already been planned for 2022, I started the 2022 Events page to try to keep track.

But here’s the last hike from 2021.

The Iron Ore Belt Access trail in Haw River State Park is about 45 minutes south of Martinsville. The official address is 6068 N Church, Greensboro, North Carolina. Somehow the address makes it sound like it is in or near a developed area but it has a remote feel to it as you are driving out to get to it.

Iron Ore Belt Access Welcome Sign

This trail is in the Haw River State Park, a 1,485 state park that straddles Rockingham and Guilford counties in North Carolina. This is a newer park with the first trails having been built in mid-2016.

The Dan River Basin Association, which announces their monthly hikes and kayaking trips on Meetup, met here in November of 2021 to hike the Iron Ore Pit Trail and take in the changing leaves.

Picnic Facilities at the Trail Head

There are actually two trails here. The primary trail is the 3.2 mile long Great Blue Heron Loop Trail, which winds through hardwood forest, along wetlands, and by old farm fields. The Iron Ore Pit Trail is a .35 mile cut-off from the Great Blue Heron Trail.

Well Marked Trails Wander Through the Park
Trail Map from State Brochure

The Iron Ore Pit Trail is essentially a cut-through that takes you by one of several historic surface level pits that has been used for mining ore from the 30-mile long iron ore belt that stretches from Salem to the Haw River.

Hikers Gathered Around the Fenced Off Iron Ore Pit

There is nothing actually in the pit except for some Christmas ferns. In fact, if it didn’t have a fence around it, you might miss it.

The Iron Ore Pit

But if you pay attention to the area around you, there are whispers along the trail to tell you that this place is a little different. Our Hike Leader, Wayne Kirkpatrick, encouraged us to pick up one of the rocks along the trail and feel the weight. Iron ore makes them a great deal heavier than you would expect.

Hike Leader Wayne Kirkpatrick

If you are the type to enjoy contemplating the passage of time and people through a space, these rocks are the tip-off to let you know that you have arrived.

Lesley, J. P. (1871). Note on the Titaniferous Iron Ore Belt, near Greensboro, North Carolina. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 12(86), 139–158.

According to the state brochure for this trail, the Speedwell Furnace was established about 5 miles north of the park in 1770 and could very well have harvested ore from this site. There are now only remnants of Speedwell, later Troublesome Creek Ironworks, but this belt was actively harvested from at least that time until after World War II.

Evidence of the Iron Ore Belt

River fans will appreciate that these are the headwaters of the Haw River. It is spring fed and moves imperceptibly. It seems like little more than a swamp just off of the trail; however, in reality, this is the beginning of a 110 mile journey down to Cape Fear River.

If you are interested in kayaking the Haw River, check out the Haw River Trail site. It lists several area outfitters and gives descriptions of what you can expect from the river at each put-in. The Haw River Trail is part of a state-wide Mountains-to-Sea Trail and extends 80 miles from the Haw River State Park to Jordan Lake in Chatham county.

Headwaters of the Haw
Grassy Plains along the Haw Headwaters

The Haw River is enjoying a resurgence in interest and, per American Rivers, is the most popular whitewater paddling river in the North Carolina Piedmont Region.

It looks like the first available put in on this part of the Haw is Brooks Bridge. According to the River Kings, a local group of whitewater kayakers and prolific YouTubers, anyone can run this stretch. It’s just a beautiful 4.5 mile stretch of river with nothing to trip anyone up.

All in all, a beautiful hike.

I really recommend taking advantage of guided hikes when you can. Wayne Kirkpatrick is a one of the hike leaders for both Homestead Hikers and Dan River Basin Association and is a wealth of information.

For instance, he taught us how to identify Christmas ferns by the odd notch at the base of the pinnules. (I had to look up “pinnule”. It’s the individual leaf that connects to the stem up the middle, or “midrib”).

Identifying a Christmas Fern

And, believe it or not, this is a muscadine vine crawling up the tree.

Huge Wild Muscadine Vine

One of the many things that I enjoy about living in the Martinsville/Henry County area is the number of trails available. I come home with a lot of pictures of trees but, can you blame me? I particularly like this one.

An Autumn Hike at Haw State Park

Roanoke Outdoor Adventure Group is currently planning “Hike & Pint” hikes that pair up a group hike with a visit to a local brewery. I haven’t been out with that group yet but this hiking series is tempting, even though the weather is questionable this time of year. Be sure to take a look at them if you are local and getting a little cabin fever.