Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Give warmth to families in need of it

Winter can be a cold and desperate time in some households in our city. A donation of new and gently used blankets and coats is a small gesture that may offer a little comfort to families in our region during the holiday season.
Charlotte’s chapter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association will be collecting blankets and coats for Crisis Assistance Ministry through Dec. 11. In the picture above, workers and volunteers are sorting through donations to the agency.
“The giving of the coats is something that we’ve done for the past couple of years,” said Tommy Hooker, a spokesman for the association, which has about 150 members locally. “If you provide a coat, you provide warmth.”
Drop off your donations at The Majestic Bath, 621 S. Sharon Amity Road, or at Hughes Supply locations in Charlotte, Huntersville, Pineville or elsewhere.
You can also bring donations to the kitchens at Electrolux from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 11, when the appliance maker will host a holiday event for the association’s members as well as guests. The event will be at Electrolux’s North American headquarters, 10200 David Taylor Drive.
During the holiday party, guests can see the Electrolux kitchen showrooms and cooking demonstrations, enjoy music and food, and possibly win door prizes. Tickets are $15. RSVP by Dec. 4 to

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Local man makes bedding for education

Kevin Gatlin is uncomfortable when he sees his two children parked in front of the television. The south Charlotte man would rather see them playing with their sheets and pillowcases.
Gatlin created a four-piece twin bedding set that has a board game for checkers or chess printed on a fitted sheet.
The children can also draw and color on their flat sheets using Crayola Washable Crayons, which come with each set.
Now Gatlin is selling his Playtime Edventures sheet sets ($40), hopeful that other parents might want sheets that are colorful and useful.
“I watched my wife interact with my sons,” Gatlin said this week from his display at the Southern Christmas Show. “They always used his bed for homework, arts and crafts or board games.”

Gatlin, son of a retired grade-school teacher, says his 10- and 2-year-old have adjusted to his way of thinking, which includes limiting their use of technology. He now works full-time with the business, which offers 30 games and Playtime activities, developed by local teachers, at the company’s website (
The children may not know it, but they are probably learning school curricula and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as they play.
At least that’s what Gatlin hopes for.

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Class starts in January to train next master gardeners

If you are a gardener and interested in community service, there is an opportunity ahead.
Twenty-four seats are available for Mecklenburg County residents who want to train to become master gardeners. Twice-weekly classes start in January and continue through March. Tuition is $160.
Volunteers give 40 hours the first year and 30 after that. Working initially with a mentor, master gardeners share what they know on the master gardener hotline and at events and speaking engagements. They also create gardens, such as the veggie patches near Independence Park that's shown here.
“They have to be a lifelong learner, and they should be interested in research-based gardening information,” said Cathe Hawley, president of Mecklenburg Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, an association that now has 110 certified volunteers.
Hawley’s description of an ideal candidate might sound lofty, but being a master gardener is mostly connecting with other gardeners in the organization and the community. I still see members of my class (1998) at events all over town.
It is important to be interested in learning, as Hawley said. There’s always so much more to discover about the world of plants and what we can do to help it grow.
Apply by Nov. 24. Visit to download an application or call 704-336-4011.

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Charlotte pop-up market to bring handmade and vintage decor

There are dozens of micro-business owners who sell interesting handmade and vintage furniture and accessories right here in the Charlotte area.
But finding these local businesses can be tricky. Many don’t have a showroom or public space. They may sell through online markets such as Etsy and promote their brands through social media.
Here’s a chance to visit some of these operations. Vintage Charlotte’s winter pop-up market returns to The Fillmore at the NC Music Factory on Nov. 15. Sixty-three local and regional vendors will exhibit, and three to four times as many applied.
“I don’t think you can find this type of variety ... anywhere else in Charlotte,” said Amy Herman, one of the organizers. “It’s a very unique mix.”
At least half of the vendors sell home decor. Jewelry, clothing, stationery and other items also will be available. Luce Antica will sell lighting made from recycled industrial pieces, such as the ones above. About 2,500 people are expected, and vendors are always eager to meet local shoppers face-to-face.
“There’s kind of a new model of business where you start online because it’s easier and it’s smaller and there is less startup,” Herman said. “But it’s lonely out there.”

Karen’s blog:; on Twitter @sullivan_kms