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Loi Le is the owner of Pho Vietnam in Cary, N.C. He has traveled the world, served in the military and owned more than six restaurants throughout the U.S. Loi moved to Greater Raleigh with his wife about nine years ago. After longing for traditional Vietnamese cooking and quitting his day job, Loi started Pho Vietnam about one year ago.

Pho VietnamPho Vietnam is located off Buck Jones Rd. in Cary, across the street from the Grand Asia Market. Loi takes great pride in his restaurant’s food because nothing is ever frozen and he uses fresh ingredients. His recipes are reminiscent of the delicious food you will find in Vietnam. The menu includes traditional dishes and one of the crowd favorites is the Phở Bò, a delicious beef noodle soup. Loi explained to me that Phở is a typical breakfast food to eat in Vietnam because it’s so hot during the day.

PhoOne of my favorites at Pho Vietnam is the Bánh Mì sandwich with BBQ pork. The sandwich is topped with vegetables including fresh cilantro, cucumber slices, jalapeño, shredded carrots and daikon. The bread is flaky and has a perfect amount of crunch when you bite in the sandwich.

Banh mi sandwichAnother great option is the Bún Thịt Nướng. This dish is filling and includes delicious pieces of BBQ pork over vermicelli noodles with shredded carrots, daikon, cucumbers and cilantro.

Pork BunNo matter what you get at Pho Vietnam, the food will be delicious and follow traditional Vietnamese recipes that Loi Le has brought to Cary from his hometown.

As soon as the weather turns warm, I cannot ride past a Pelican’s SnoBalls location without my children begging for a New Orleans-style SnoBall for an afternoon treat.

SnoBallWith less than 150 calories in each one, and more than 100 homemade flavors with no high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients, I always say “YES!” I love the Margarita flavor.

There are so many flavors that you could practically go every day during the summer, and try something new with each visit.

Pelican's SnoBalls MenuThere are several Pelican’s SnoBalls locations throughout the Raleigh area, but we enjoy stopping at the Cary, N.C., location in the Swift Creek Shopping Center.

With a miniature golf course on site and a large playground area, it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, spend some quality family time and cool off with a yummy Snoball or homemade ice cream cone.

There are also several locally-owned family-friendly restaurants in the Swift Creek Shopping Center such as Anvil’s Cheesesteaks, Fiesta Mexicana Restaurante or our local firefighter’s themed Barry’s Café to enjoy for lunch or dinner before a family game of putt-putt and a delicious SnoBall.

SnoBalls golfSee you at Pelican’s SnoBalls this summer at my favorite location in the Swift Creek Shopping Center at the intersection of Tryon Rd. and Jones Franklin Rd. Hours vary at each Raleigh area location, but none of the locations open before noon.

You can enjoy Pelican’s SnoBalls in several states now, but we are happy to say that the SnoBall goodness started right here in Raleigh.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog.

After 12 years of traveling the world and big-city living, Nora Duran knew she wanted to return to her hometown of Garner to raise her family.

Kennedy&Grace Boutique in Garner “It just made sense for me to come home and open a business here,” Duran told me as I stumbled upon her store for the first time. During a routine cleaning, my dental hygienist recommended Duran’s store when I told her I needed a cute teacher’s gift.

Kennedy & Grace, named after Duran’s three-year-old daughter, has been open a little over a year. She caters to stylish moms in southwest Greater Raleigh who love the fact that they can pop in the store easily to see what’s new, even with a child in tow, after a quick trip to the grocery store on their way home. And with the store being less than 15 minutes away from downtown Raleigh and I-40, visitors to the area can easily experience the small-town charm of Garner, home of American Idol winner Scotty McCreery.

Resort Wear at Kennedy&Grace in GarnerDuran likes to stock her store with products from Southern designers, many of which are local. Custom monogramming is done locally in Garner, and a local designer also makes custom bow ties for the gentlemen. A local designer also creates the acrylic necklaces.

Bow-ties at Kennedy&Grace in GarnerKennedy & Grace offers personal styling, and with affordable pricing, ladies can usually walk away with two or three things for under $100. It’s certainly big-city fashion with small-town prices.

I purchased two great beach thermal totes for my daughter’s preschool teachers, and they loved them.

Cute Beach Totes at Kennedy Grace They will be stylin’ at the beach this summer, and you will, too. The signature style at Kennedy & Grace is resort chic.

Resort Wear at Kennedy&Grace in GarnerWith the area being so close to the coast, resort wear is a hot trend in the summer time.

Kennedy & Grace is located in Aversboro Square in Garner. Nearby is the adorable coffee shop, Aversboro Coffee, with a huge selection of coffee drinks. I tried the Almond Joy one, and it was pure joy.

The Aversboro Restaurant and Sports Bar is also Kennedy & Grace’s neighbor. It is open for lunch and dinner.

I don’t know about you, but grabbing a coffee and getting a new outfit or necklace in the same day is my kind of day.

Jewelry at Kennedy&Grace in Garner

See you in Garner.

Follow Leigh Powell Hines on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

Kennedy & Grace

1411 Aversboro Rd., Ste. 109
Garner, N.C. 27529

(Closed on Sun.)

With sunglasses on and a cup of Joe in hand, many enjoy spending their Sat. and Sun. bargain hunting at local flea markets. Whether you’re looking for that Babe Ruth card or Barbie you traded away as a kid, are hankering for a piece of homemade fudge or food truck eats or just want to get out of the house and rummage through timeless treasures, Greater Raleigh flea markets likely have that special something you’re looking for.

flea_market_logoThe Raleigh Flea Market at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds has been an area tradition since the early 1970s. The family-friendly atmosphere draws 1os of 1,000s of shoppers every weekend. Showcasing more than 1,000 vendors–both indoors and out–it is open to the public each Sat. and Sun. (except during the run of the N.C. State Fair in Oct.), rain or shine, and offers everything from antiques and collectibles to handicrafts, furniture, homemade goodies, clothing and jewelry. A new Tues. market is also available, outside only on the Hillsborough St. parking lot from 9am-6pm.

P1160125P1160126aAn article in Indy Week probably described it greatly: “In any 20-foot radius you can browse cast-iron barn ornaments, power tools, 10-packs of bras, hand-knitted hats and scarves, antique jewelry and rocking chairs made entirely of woven saplings. America’s treasure and junk is here for the picking—if you’ve got a little green in your wallet.”

P1160122And with the largest selection of antiques, jewelry and furniture in North Carolina, the Raleigh Flea Market remains one of the area’s top year-round tourist destinations, drawing 2.4 million visitors annually according to the Triangle Business Journal.

P1160133Back in ‘71, the Stewart family founded the Raleigh Flea Market at its current location with a mere six tables and just a handful of vendors. Today Marshall Stewart III, one of the original creators, has returned as manager with plans to add fun attractions, delicious food options and even more great vendors. The market offers free admission and free parking.

P1160121Raleigh Flea Market; 1025 Blue Ridge Rd.; Raleigh 27607. raleighfleamarket.net

The Raleigh Flea Market Mall boasts an average weekend attendance of 12,000 visitors. This 85,000-square-foot heated and air conditioned “mall” has now grown so large (approximately 200 vendors) that it spills out into the parking lot.

P1160120This market features antiques, collectibles, memorabilia, collectible glassware, jewelry, self defense tools, knife sharpening, leatherworks, new merchandise, sportswear, electronics, videos and computer parts, housewares, formal/pageant wear and loads of fresh produce. Great deals can be made with very welcoming dealers.

P1160117P1160118Open for business each Sat. and Sun., 7am-dark. Free admission and free parking.

Raleigh Flea Market Mall; 1924 Capital Blvd.; Raleigh 27614.

Every weekend, more than 5,000 shoppers frequent the 150 dealers of Watson’s Flea Market. Featuring new and used merchandise, antiques, collectibles, coins, vintage clothing, jewelry and purses, sunglasses, belt buckles, furniture, electronics and cleaning and office supplies.

watsons1The taco trucks and other food vendors are said to be awesome. Weekend hours: 6am-6pm (outdoors); 8am-5pm (indoors). $2 admission, ample parking.

Watson’s Flea Market; 1436 Rock Quarry Rd.; Raleigh 27610.

Check them out!

Written by Free Spirit, Kristy Stevenson (who can be a Creative Genius, Fashionista or Lifelong Learner, depending upon the day of the week). Follow her online.

wine walk logo
Are you ready to kick back and sample some delicious wines while championing community programs? North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village is sponsoring its second annual Wine Walk in support of local charities on the third Thurs. of each month through Sept. Enjoy a summer stroll through shops and restaurants to participating merchants between the hours of 6-8pm. The wine is free–and your $10 participation proceeds go directly to charity. It’s a great way to see all the Village has to offer and taste some fabulous wines. Taste the impact you can make! Additional donations are welcome.

lafayette village“Just purchase a wristband at the tent on the green near Taqueria Americana,” said communication coordinator Meghan Fountain. “You will then be given a map that has numbers next to participating merchants, as well as a listing of which wine they will be serving.” And if you find one you really like, some locations will have bottles for purchase. Of course, you must be at least 21 years old to partake in the tastings, but all ages are welcome to shop and savor the ambiance of restaurant choices. The first 100 participants will also receive a commemorative wine glass, so get there early! These events take place rain or shine.

lafayette village4July 17 to benefit: Special Spaces–changing children’s lives, one bedroom at a time. A kid’s bedroom is a personal place that represents his or her unique personality. As you can imagine, when a child has a critical illness and spends a lot of time at home in that room, it needs to be a very special space (one designed and dreamed up by the child so as to become a place that is unique and loved by him or her). Special Spaces is a non-profit corporation founded for the development and construction of these areas. Once a child is chosen, a team interviews the child to get an understanding of his or her favorite colors, themes and wishes. Local businesses, corporations and family/church groups fund each child’s room. These groups, if willing, provide a team of volunteers to help with the decorating and completion of each child’s room.

lafayette_village_night_053014Photo by Bob Fortner Photography

Aug. 21 to benefit: Communities in Schools (CIS). In North Carolina, 73 students drop out of school every school day. The mission of CIS is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Established in 1989, it is part of a national CIS network, the leading dropout prevention organization in the country and the only organization proven to decrease the dropout rate while increasing on-time graduation rates. They currently provide assistance to 37 local affiliates serving 44 N.C. counties.

wine walk1
Sept. 18 to benefit: HopeLine, a family of confidential services offering caring, non-judgmental listening and resource information in an effort to improve the overall well-being of people in the area. It has four programs: The Crisis Line, Teen Talk Chat Line, Teen Chat Line and the Reassurance Call Program. There are no requirements to receive services; the organization never turns away a caller in situations ranging from emergencies like suicide to those grieving a loss, or just having a bad day. As a United Way Partner Agency, they use the 2-1-1 database to connect callers with community resources that can assist them further. The goal of HopeLine is to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Your support helps ensure that it is.

Written by Free Spirit, Kristy Stevenson (who can be a Creative Genius, Fashionista or Lifelong Learner, depending upon the day of the week). Follow her online.

The Cary Downtown Theater was once home to the town’s first indoor movie theater, aptly titled The Cary. Built in 1946, the theater hosted live performances as well as a wide range of films for the price of just 40 cents. Lash LaRue, Ernest Tubbs and Patsy Cline are said to have appeared back in the day. 1947’s The Voice of the Turtle, starring Ronald Reagan, was one of the earliest films shown.

P1160179Its launch fell during the Jim Crow Era of Segregation. As a result, The Cary’s past included separate entrances, exits, seating and access to facilities for African-American guests. This history, along with actual pieces of the building’s past, are on display in the balcony lobby.

P1160164Nightlife blossomed at the dating hot spot. The opening of The Car-Ral Drive-In, however, (often referred to as McSwain’s for its operator, J.T. McSwain)–once at the corner of S.E. Maynard and E. Chatham Sts.–slowly ebbed at The Cary’s business. And once television sets could be found in almost every home, the theater finally closed.

The building was renovated in 1960 and reopened as Cary Clothiers. The business sold quality men’s wear until Cary Village Mall (now Cary Towne Center) opened in 1979. After that, the lower level was used by Chatham Street Auto Parts and the upper level became a recording studio.

P1160145Coming full circle, The Cary marquee now lights up downtown Cary once again and welcomes patrons to its 175-seat theater with a concession stand (offering gourmet popcorn, cake cups, roasted nuts, hummus and pretzels, movie theater candy, fruit and cheese assortments, ice cream, soft drinks, coffee, beer and wine)! The 48 seats up front are movable to allow for a dance floor or cabaret setting, and tables can be brought in whenever necessary. The majority of events will be general admission, however, some events will require reserved seating.

P1160143During construction, a piece of film was found on the original projection booth’s floor. The snippet was from a 1951 Western and is now on display in the lobby. Renovating the building is part of a major downtown revitalization effort for Cary, with the intent of bringing more people downtown. Much like its predecessor, the new Cary theater provides a unique setting for cinema (both adult- and child-friendly, including a monthly movie series for kids and summer movie criticism and improv camps) and live performances (from stage, to comedy and improv to music)–thus enhancing Cary’s cultural experience. And officials say the theater will help fill the void left when The Galaxy, a local theater known for showing independent films, closed its doors last year.

“Restoring The Cary was a wonderful way to preserve memories while helping visitors to the theater make new ones,” said Liza Weidle, Heart of Cary association board member.

The Cary Downtown Theater is located at 122 E. Chatham St., near the intersection of Academy and Chatham (if you’ve shopped Lazy Daze, you’ve probably walked right past it). The interior is now wonderfully modern, and the venue makes for a great night out. Tickets are available at the box office or via Etix.

Written by Free Spirit, Kristy Stevenson (who can be a Creative Genius, Fashionista or Lifelong Learner, depending upon the day of the week). Follow her online.

City Market is one of my favorite spots in downtown Raleigh. The quaint cobblestone streets have been a foundation for 100 years of incredible Raleigh history. The market still thrives today with restaurants, art galleries and locally-owned boutiques.

City MarketThe kid-friendly Marbles Kids Museum and the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles, located in Moore Square, are within easy walking distance from the market, so City Market is a great area to explore before or after a museum visit.

My daughter and I have found a very sweet side to City Market, and we love to pop into the area just for the fun.

Benelux CafeBenelux Café, is a European-style coffee shop that serves Brussels-style wafels, and other sweet goodies. My daughter is quite fond of the brownies there, and the two of us love to make ourselves at home in the café’s cozy space.

Cozy seating area in Benelux Cafe

Benelux Café roasts its own coffee beans, and it has been serving high-quality coffee in the area since 2010. Coffee lovers can also purchase coffee by the pound for home brewing.

The café also functions as an art gallery. A different artist is featured monthly, in time for each month’s First Friday celebration in City Market.

City Market City Produce

On Wed. from 4-7pm, City Market becomes a farmers’ market where you can buy produce directly from local farmers. City Market Produce, a market staple, is also open Thurs.-Sat. from 7-6pm all year.

Inside the Blake Street Shops & Studios, across from City Market Produce, is a collection of small businesses and art galleries. It’s also home to the Cupcake Stopshop. Here you can find locally-made cupcakes by a mother and daughter team who specialize in offering different flavors each day. There is not a seating area, so all cupcakes are meant to take home or to enjoy on a park bench. On Wed. and Fri., the ladies offer pound cake cupcakes on the menu.

City Market cupcakes

Hello! That’s like combining my two favorite desserts of all time.

I’ll definitely see you at City Market in downtown Raleigh this summer.

Follow Leigh Powell Hines on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog.

The 2014 edition of IRONMAN 70.3 Raleigh was another huge success. On Sun., June 1, more than 2,000 athletes were up for the challenge of a 1.2-mile swim at Jordan Lake, a 56-mile bike through western Wake County into downtown Raleigh and capped with a 13.1-mile run out and back on Hillsborough St. before finishing in City Plaza downtown.

Some photos from the race (photos via Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance; click to view full size):

Low 60's and beautiful at Jordan Lake to start the race

Low 60’s and beautiful at Jordan Lake to start the race

More than 1,000 volunteers make the event possible

More than 1,000 volunteers make the event possible

Athletes warm up in the water before the official race start

Athletes warm up in the water before the official race start

Athletes start the race in waves of 30-50 participants at a time

Athletes start the race in waves of 30-50 participants at a time

Volunteers help keep everyone safe!

Volunteers help keep everyone safe!

Transitioning from the swim to the bike

Transitioning from the swim to the bike

56-mile trek into downtown Raleigh

56-mile trek into downtown Raleigh

Smooth roads on a clear day

Smooth roads on a clear day

Run through downtown Raleigh

Run through downtown Raleigh

Amy marsh

Amy Marsh is the #IM703Raleigh female winner! (this photo via IRONMAN)

If you want to expose your children to modern art, and you need a subject area that may interest them, I highly suggest to put Contemporary Art Museum (CAM Raleigh) on your list of places to visit this summer.

CAM Raleigh Now through Aug. 31, 2014, the museum shares the thrill of baseball in an exhibition called Bull City Summer. Inspired by the 25th anniversary of the movie Bull Durham, this art exhibition documents the 2013 season at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, home of one of the most popular and legendary minor league baseball team in America.

Ten nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists—photographers Alec Soth, Hank Willis Thomas, Hiroshi Watanabe, Alex Harris, Frank Hunter, Kate Joyce, Elizabeth Matheson, Leah Sobsey and Jeff Whetstone and video artist Ivan Weiss—converged on the stadium for all 72 home games.

The end result is a fascinating exhibition about America’s favorite pastime. Project director Sam Stephenson describes Bull City Summer as “a portrait of the art and craft and grit of baseball and the community that revolves around it.”

Photo by Frank Hunter is part of the Bull City Exhibition.

Photo by Frank Hunter is part of the Bull City Summer exhibition.

The exhibition will probably appeal more to children ages five and up, but the CAM Raleigh’s Family Sundae event would be a great way for all ages to experience the art of baseball as well as the other art exhibits on display.

In honor of Father’s Day, the museum will host a creation station for hands-on art activities and an interactive ice cream sundae bar for all ages. Family Sundae will be held from noon to 3pm on Sun. June 15.

CAM Raleigh also hosts a weekly guided tour at 2pm each Sun. The Weekly Guided Tour is included with museum admission. General admission to CAM Raleigh is $5 for adults, children over age 10 and seniors. Admission is free for CAM Raleigh members and children under the age of 10.

CaM RAleigh_Bull City Summer3CAM Raleigh is located at 409 W. Martin Street in downtown Raleigh. The museum is also open until 10pm on the First Friday of each month.

Follow Leigh on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog.


Schoolkids1 (3)In 1973, Schoolkids Records opened its doors to the music-hungry public on Hillsborough St. The vaunted business (lauded by both Time Magazine and GRAMMY.com) embraced its role in the community, forever altering the musical tastes and lives of innumerable students and fellow Music Maniacs in the heart of the North Carolina State University campus district.

20140602_150641Forty years later, on Dec. 31, 2013, Schoolkids Records bid farewell to Hillsborough St., giving itself a special edition re-release at 2237 Avent Ferry Rd. The development of a new hotel resulted in the relocation. Though the old location will be missed, owner Stephen Judge and music fans, local and beyond, are excited about the new location.

“I saw the move as an opportunity to do what I want to do,” Judge said.

Judge’s vision included draft beer, a larger space, a sleek stage and a massive, easily accessible parking lot.

In Oct. 2013, we profiled the Hillsborough St. location and discussed the history of Schoolkids Records. Let’s take a look at its newest incarnation.

The Bar

Schoolkids1 (2)Beer and music form a natural partnership. For years, Judge wanted to sell beer at the store.

“That’s always been on the periphery here,” Judge said. “We’ve always had that kind of opportunity, but this move forced it to happen. It’s awesome.”

Judge sees beer as a way to loosen people up and promote camaraderie.

“You get people sitting around, talking about records, talking about music, talking about the music scene here and national bands that are coming through,” Judge said. “You can feel this magic happening. Other customers feed off it – the whole bar filled with people, blasting music, drinking beer.”

Schoolkids Records offers four draft brews, including local standout Big Boss Brewing Company, and a few cans. Judge plans to expand the draft selection and wants to keep local beers in constant rotation.

Schoolkids1The bar itself contains a bit of Judge’s own history. He decorated the counter with band photos and ticket stubs from concerts he’s attended.

The Stage

Schoolkids1 (5)The old Hillsborough St. location had a stage, but the new stage is more visible throughout the store.

The Avent Ferry Rd. stage, like the rest of the store, gives insight to Judge’s life. Band posters he collected over the years and old Cat’s Cradle schedules advertising Nirvana and Pearl Jam playing in the same week dot the wall behind the stage. His décor helps facilitate conversation among shoppers who might see a poster or ticket stub from a show they also attended.

Schoolkids Records hosts live music (local and national acts) quite frequently. Check the website for a full list of upcoming shows.

The Space

Schoolkids1 (6)Schoolkids Records now occupies about 1,600 square feet, a significant increase from their previous address. The expansion gives shoppers more selection, in addition to freeing up the stage and bar area.

The shop sells a wide variety of new and used vinyl and CDs. Vinyl accounts for an astounding 70 percent of sales, a nationwide trend that Judge expects to continue.

“The people who bought vinyl before and now buy vinyl again are elated that it’s back. The kids who are buying it for the first time, it’s the coolest thing in the world. It’s not just collecting. It’s not just a fad. They’re spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on turntables. So we’re seeing major growth there.”

The Parking

20140602_150703You get the picture.

The Future

Five months after the move, Judge and his small staff feel at ease in their Avent Ferry Rd. location. The future is bright for Schoolkids Records.

“I started working here in 1990, and I started shopping here in 1985 when I was old enough to drive,” Judge said. “This place has been important to me, and it’s always been on Hillsborough St., but if I were to dwell on what used to be and not look to the future we would have been out of business a long time ago.

“For me, it’s about looking forward to what the next 40 years are for the store, and Hillsborough St. doesn’t quite fit into that equation. It’s a shame, but I’m very happy here. This is a great opportunity.”

Schoolkids Records is located in the Mission Valley Shopping Center, sharing a building with Waffle House and Planet Smoothie.

It’s open 10am-9pm, Mon.-Sat. and noon-7pm, Sun.

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