Autumness

Life is just as busy as ever right now! It’s feeling a bit more consistently cool these days. Our brand spankin’ new Trader Joe’s opened a few weeks ago and it’s AMAZING!!! We love love love having a Trader Joe’s here in Asheville.

Trader Joe's Asheville!

The walled gardens at the Biltmore Estate are ever changing and the carpet of flowers there is breathtaking.

Fall flowers in the Walled Garden at the Biltmore

I’m noticing fall colors like I never have before – there’s more lavender in early fall than I ever realized.

Fall flowers

And the wine tasting at the Biltmore is always a favorite spontaneous activity!

Spontaneous Wine Tasting

Fall colors

My Dad was in town last weekend and we really enjoyed having him visit. We took him to Wicked Weed, Doc Chey’s, and Hi-Wire to taste some of our favorite brews and delicious noms! And we went to Dough with some of his friends for the first time! I didn’t even know it existed. It’s a neat little bakery restaurant with good sandwiches and a nice vibe. One of his friends, Christopher Oakley, who used to be an animator at Disney, told us all about his recent findings about Lincoln at Gettysburg. So interesting! Thanks for coming to visit, Dad!

Dough Asheville

And now we’re enjoying the fall-ness in the air – the foggy mornings, crisp mountain air, pumpkins and Halloween decorations everywhere, planning for upcoming holidays, and all of our other sundry activities. My Spanish class at AB Tech has been awesome and we’re all talking about a Spanish IV class in January! Mmm fall.

Pumpkins!

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spontaneous whimsy // biltmore house edition

Hibiscus Flower

On Sunday Scott and I spontaneously decided to go for a house tour at the Biltmore! Disclaimer: We have 12 Month Passes and we use them regularly. We read an article on the Biltmore Blog that outlined a few restoration projects that are going on right now and we thought it would be fun to go check things out! So we took ourselves on over, found a doozy of a parking spot, and wandered through the house. They have self-guided tour booklets available (that you should definitely use if you’re going through the house for a tour), but we have been through the house enough times that we don’t always pick them up anymore. Lately we have enjoyed mapping out the many levels of the house in our heads and noticing the ever-changing decorations in all the rooms. The tour itself also changes from time to time. It gets rerouted depending on the time of year and the restoration that is happening at the time. We gallivanted through the house taking note of the detours and various subtle differences. It was delightful! After a quick jaunt we found ourselves at the winery – because free wine tasting. Why not!?

It was wonderful and spontaneous and whimsical.

Oh, and this beautiful hibiscus flower was blooming beautifully outside the winery!

Weekend Review: Dun Dunnunah!

Samantha came to visit this weekend! It was awesome. We hit up some of our favorite Asheville spots and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves along the way. And there were snow flurries in the air pretty much the entirety of the weekend, which made it all feel very picturesque and dreamy.

We headed to Asheville Brewing Co. upon Sam’s arrival Friday evening for some delicious Tropicale pizza (with ham, bacon, and pineapple) and Rocket Girl ale to welcome her for the weekend. It totally hit the Friday-night welcome-to-the-weekend spot. Then we proceeded to return to the apartment and veg for the rest of the evening and then went to bed. It was a pretty lazy Friday evening if I do say so myself, but my-oh-my was it awesome!

Saturday morning welcomed us after late-sleeping. There was coffee and tea, sitting around and chatting while Scott was off at a meeting, bacon and pancakes for brunch, and some more chatting. Then we all bundled up and headed downtown to mosey around in the flurries for a bit. Poked around in some of our favorite shops, visited the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for some mid-afternoon indulgence, and poked around some more. After swinging by the apartment we bundled back up and went to the Biltmore for a wine tasting! It was an afternoon of true decadence. We followed up with some more wine, dinner in, and many rounds of Bananagrams.

Sunday morning (I’m noticing a theme with this weekend) we bundled back up and went to Sunny Point Cafe and stood in the flurries while we waited for a table for brunch. It was cold, but it was oh so worth it! Brunch was scrumptious and it was so nice to be warm inside and watch the flurries outside!

Indulging.

Indulgence Part 1: French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

Mousse

Waiting for wine tasting!

Vino vino!

Indulgence Part 2: Biltmore Wine Tasting.

Vino and Bananagrams

Awesomesauce

Our sound effect for the weekend: Dun Dunnunah! Along with some brownie-in-a-mug.

Get to the point.

Indulgence 2

Indulgence Part 3: Sunny Point Cafe.

Tiny details.

A wonderful weekend was had by all. Thanks for coming to visit Samantha! We had such a great time! Miss you already!

Been so long!

This week has FLOWN by! It has been so busy. LIFE has been so busy! I wish it would just slow down sometimes! Geesh. So let’s back track a bit.

Last Friday after work I went with two of my coworkers to a funeral for the Wine Studio in Asheville. Fun theme for a going out of business party! It was a great evening, tasty wine, delicious munchies, a cute pooch, and good company. And this skull amidst the roses!

Sunday was a glorious day! We started off with some yoga and then made brunch (which was more like lunch). Gump’s Very Superior Pancakes! They are our favorite! It ended up being a very productive day! I ran some errands, made some phone calls, did some laundry, and spent a glorious couple of hours making scrumptious chili for dinner. It was so meditative to follow the recipe and add more things to the pot of simmering goodness! It was our dinner for three nights in a row and we weren’t even beginning to complain! I made cornbread to go with our chili too. It was all so good. We are so ready for soup/stew/chili/chowder weather!

This week has been very busy, and exhausting, but rewarding all at the same time. As much as I may be in a grumpy mood sometimes, it is hard to stay grumpy when I have little munchkins giving me hugs and wanting to snuggle! They’re pretty irresistible, my friends at school! Yes, they have their moments, but they can be really sweet! One of the most wonderful images from this week is one that I have to paint for you. One of the assistant teachers brought her sister in law to school for the day, and she also happens to be a Montessori teacher. In after care she brought her guitar outside to play and sing songs! The children, after a few moments, gathered around her and all crowded into the same little play structure to listen and sing along! It was so sweet to see them all so excited!

Some days were not-as-great. Yesterday I felt like the world was against me for a good chunk of the day. This goes back to where I said that when you’re feeling grumpy it’s really hard to stay grumpy because the kids are so loving. Remember? But sometimes you just feel grumpy again after you leave work and sometimes you’re tired and sometimes you hit all the lights red on that road that you HATE driving on downtown and sometimes you stub your toe on nothing when you’re walking through the kitchen and sometimes you forget to unpack the groceries when there are refrigerated items and sometimes your mailbox looks like this after all those other things happen and it makes you want to scream!!! Yeah. Sometimes. And sometimes you feel much better after you have the chance to talk to your mommy on the phone, who magically makes everything feel better and pulls you out of your grumpy funk. Thanks Mom!

And in marvelously stark contrast, today I came home unreasonably giddy and hyper for no apparent reason (though, now that I think about it, it could be that I drank caffeinated tea at work this afternoon) and bounced around the apartment giggling and being silly! And then I got really excited about the fact that it’s almost time to break out the Bean Boots!!! I hardly got to wear mine last winter because it wasn’t actually winter here in Asheville and mine are insulated (read: too hot to wear every day otherwise I might). So I’m hopeful and excited that it might actually be cold enough to require insulated boots this winter! After spending a winter in Massachusetts (in which it snowed a bazillion feet and was quite chilly) last winter felt pretty lame in comparison. And who doesn’t love his and hers Bean Boots!?

And that will be all for now. Just wanted to update you since I’ve been gone all week!!! Perhaps I’ll be back sooner for my next post! I’ll work on it. Sorry y’all!

A Very Biltmore Evening

Disclaimer 1: Scott and I invest in 12-Month Passes to the Biltmore. We budget for them and get them around Christmas and they are part of our gifts to each other. That is how we are able to spend so much time there! If you have any questions about how to go about getting a 12-Month Pass, please feel free to email me and I would be delighted to tell you all about it!

This evening we took some friends with us to the Biltmore! (Disclaimer 2: As a perk of being Passholders, we are allowed to bring guests with us for free onto the Estate after 5:00.) As we were driving onto the Estate we saw that the car ahead of us had stopped, so we slowed down, and no sooner than we started looking around a mama black bear and her two cubs lumbered across the road RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR CAR!!! I may or may not have squealed with delight! (Read: I screamed I was so excited!!! And Scott shushed me so I wouldn’t frighten the bears.) This was the FIRST time that Scott and I (or our friends) had ever seen black bears since we moved here six years ago!!! IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME!!! As they ran up the hill on the other side of the road the two cubs started playing with each other and then lumbered off behind mama. I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MYSELF STILL! It was incredible. Absolutely made my day/week/month/year! Unfortunately in my delight I was only able to capture this photo of bear cub tush. Do you see it!? Can you tell it was adorable!? Because it was.

After this most exciting event, we parked near the Conservatory and wandered around for a bit. Went to see the house and the more of the gardens, and then made our way down to Antler Hill Village. Scott and I showed them around a little bit and we made our way to the winery tasting room where our lovely expert told us so much about wine, the Biltmore Winery, the process of making wine, the tastes and feels of the wine, and so much more! She was awesome! Apparently she also does tours of the winery, which is part of where her wealth of information comes from. It was so great to have someone with so much knowledge! And she also poured the wines for us to taste. Learning new things every day!

Once we had tasted our fair share of wine we went back to the car and collected our picnic. We spread out on our blanket and had chicken and veggies for dinner! It was a glorious evening. Thanks for coming with us Alison and Andy! Hope you had as much fun as we did!!! Also, thanks to the black bears for making our day! And special thanks to our tasting room expert who had so much fun with us!

Nashoba Valley Winery

Saturday, May 19, 2012: Went with Scott’s parents to the Nashoba Valley Winery today! It is a gorgeous day, for starters. And the winery is a delightful old New England farm with lots of character. We had a spunky petite woman give us our tour of the winery and she told us all about the process and the numerous fruits that are used in their wines/liquors, and we sampled a few wines! It’s very interesting. Then we sampled a few of their beers (two Belgians and a Bock) and some more of their wine (Riesling) and one of their liquors called Northern Comfort.

Northern Comfort: Our version of cognac. A unique blend of brandy, oak, maple and lemon creates a balanced and complex liquor, The silky rich bouquet slowly releases the unique blend of brandy, oak, maple and lemon. A succession of aromas, spices and delicately fragrant flowers blend with a viscous sweet finish.

It was quite a treat to go for the tasting, and it is always so much fun to see new places in this area!

Rex Goliath

Monday, August 15, 2011: I’m treating myself to some cheap red wine! And I’m also giving a review of said wine! I like finding wine that I don’t feel guilty drinking because of its price and that tastes good all at the same time. I find that it tastes better if I don’t feel guilty about how much it cost. This particular bottle cost around $5. That’s hard to beat when you don’t have access to Two Buck Chuck from le Trader Joe’s. Which is actually Three Buck Chuck, but I’ll let that go for now. Anyway – Rex Goliath (who also happened to be a Giant 47-Pound Rooster back in the day) is good bang for your buck. (Get your head out of the gutter.) I decided to go with the blended red wine – Free Range Red – because it sounded good based on its description, and it is quite tasty! It’s an easy-to-drink simple, smooth red wine with fruity tastes. They have several different red and whites, and I’m eager to try more! And now I’m going to go enjoy my glass of wine and a whoopie pie.