Kick Back and Kook’s Culinary Weekend: Feasting with Brew HAS BEEN POSTPONED!

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED – WE WILL POST THE NEW DATE SOON!

Dates: June 4-5, 2010

Where: 1847 Blake House Inn Bed & Breakfast,150 Royal Pines Drive, Asheville (Arden), NC, http://www.blakehouse.com/

Tickets are still available!

Davin McCoy & The Coming Attractions are honored to be able to play two days at this festival which is going to be great fun and proceeds from this event go to eliminate Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the #1 genetic cause of death in children under the age of 2. Fight SMA with food and while sampling Asheville’s best beers and listening to GREAT live music!

The event is hosted by Chef Angela McKeller who has been featured on The Food Network and is a great supporter of the band. This event supports Angela’s favorite charity: The Hope and Light Foundation.

If you are looking for a culinary event to spice up your summer then put June 4-5, 2010 on your calender. The “Kick Back and Kook: Feasting with Brew” event is taking over The 1847 Blake House Inn! Angela McKeller teams up with local micro-breweries in Asheville (rated BEST in the country for microbrews!) and offers an exploration of taste featuring seasonal, local ingredients and evening cooking classes as separate events (details below), including an Iron Chef Competition with prizes!

Don’t miss it! Best “Kooking”, Jamming, Brewing event of the summer! For weekend packages that include accommodations, please contact the Innkeeper, Leslie Kimball, at 888.353.5227 or 828.681.5227, http://www.blakehouse.com/. Want to add an extra night or two so you can explore Asheville, the Biltmore, the breweries? Come a day early, stay a day after and you’ll get a 10% discount off the nightly rate for the extra night(s).

To buy tickets (which will sell out fast!) go to https://www.facebook.com/kickbackkook.

Events:

Friday, June 4, 2010:
Beer and Truffles

2:30 – 4:30pm
$29 per person, or attend both Fri & Sat Afternoon classes for the just $47! Limited tickets available, buy tickets in advance to guarantee your spot!

Think beer and chocolate don’t go together? One of Asheville’s most popular microbreweries will come by and explain the ins and outs of brewing, the difference between one brew and another and give a presentation on how to pair beer with chocolate! Angela McKeller of “Kick Back and Kook!” will be offering her recipes for three types of Chocolate Truffles you can make at home, but taste them now, taste the chocolate and beer together yourself to see just how compatible these flavors really are! Think it’s never been done before? Think again! Also, live music by Davin McCoy and The Coming Attractions will make this an afternoon to remember!

Soufflés Made Simple
6:00pm – 9:00pm

$45 per person. Reserve your spot early, limited to just 25 students!

Angela McKeller will take you further down the culinary path, deep into the heart of Paris. Or at least you’ll feel like that is where you are! French for “puff up”, Angela will demonstrate just how easy these seemingly difficult, but impressive dishes are for dinner and dessert! On the menu: Shrimp Soufflé with Creamy Dill Sauce; Spinach and Ricotta Soufflé and Dark Chocolate Soufflé. Bring out your inner Julia Child, get ready for Summer and say “Bon appétit!”

Saturday, June 5, 2010
Simple Summer Desserts Sampling and Brew Tasting
1pm – 3pm

$29 per person, or attend both Fri & Sat Afternoon classes for the just $47! Limited tickets available, buy tickets in advance to guarantee your spot.

Angela McKeller will offer samples of the most delicious summer dessert recipes she’s developed and encountered during her culinary career. On the menu: Chef Mike Carrino’s Cherry and Apple Tart to Angela’s own Flambéd Brandied Peaches to Chef Jerry Solomon’s Zabayon, a simple but delicious Italian custard served with mixed berries, you’ll experience it all! And yes, these all go great with your favorite beer! While this is a sampling of desserts and beers, it is also an opportunity to get to know Chef Angela McKeller, ask her as many questions as you can think of about these delicious desserts and become acquainted with one of Asheville’s best microbreweries and their brews!  Again, live music by Davin McCoy and The Coming Attractions will make this afternoon experience even more amazing.

Iron Chef Competition!
6:30pm -9:30 pm

$65 per person.  Reserve your spot early, limited to just 25 students!

Who will win? The Salad Spinners or the Wire Wisks?! “Kooky” prizes to the winners!

Paired off into two groups, munching on some of Angela’s most popular dips while you “kook”, two teams will go head to head, competing to see who can create the best meal of the evening! Who judges? You do!

Everyone is given a score card to fill out without anyone else seeing. On a scale of 1-5, you try each others dishes and rate them, putting the score cards in a bowl for Angela to tally the scores while you finish dessert. The winning team gets a prize as “kooky” as Angela is!

On the menu:

Team 1:

* Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs in a Red Wine and Balsamic Reduction
* Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli in a Mushroom Cream Sauce
* Lemon Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis

Team 2:

* Baked Brie en Croute with Caramelized Walnuts
* Chicken Provençale
* Crepes with Strawberries and Rich Chocolate Sauce

With Asheville as the backdrop, who could ask for anything more? Beautiful scenery, delicious food, fun, kooky cooking classes, beer tastings, live music, the Biltmore Estate just around the corner and some of the best microbreweries around.

If You Do Not Avoid Type II diabetes Now, You Will Probably Hate Yourself Later

Written by, Patricia Harris from Diabetic Menu Blog

While my son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 17, Patricia’s blog offers very practical tips and menu options for anyone who is at risk for Type II Diabetes. – Leslie

Diabetes type 2 is easily the most common form of diabetes. An incredible number of Americans seem to have been told they have diabetes type 2 symptoms, and more are unconscious they’re at high risk. Some groups have a relatively higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than others.  Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Indigenous Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, in addition to the aged population.

In diabetes type 2, either your body will not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary to the body to be able to use glucose for energy. After you eat food, the entire body breaks down the sugars and starches into glucose; that’s the basic fuel for any cells in your body. Insulin takes the sugar from your blood to the cells. When glucose builds up inside blood rather then going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.

Each person has the capability to improve and protect their present health. With proper nutrition and physical exercise and also making good lifestyle choices (like not smoking), you could feel better, stronger, and healthier, and can lower your risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart problems and cerebrovascular accident.

What exactly is Healthy Weight?

There’s a simple way to discover if your current weight puts you in danger of developing serious diseases. Visit www.diabetes.org/bmi and consider the Body Mass Index (BMI) test. The results will help you decide if you need to stress about your weight.

The Better You Eat, The Better You are

Below are a few basic guidelines that can help you and your family make healthier food decisions:

  • Eat numerous fruit and veggies.
  • Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products.
  • Try brown rice instead of white. Substitute whole wheat grains bread for white.
  • Eat fish 2 – 3 times per week.
  • Select leaner cuts of meat like those that end in “loin.”
  • Remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Eat low fat dairy
  • Drink water and calorie-free non-carbonated beverages.
  • Use liquid oils for cooking as an alternative to solid fats.
  • Cut back on junk food like chips, cookies, cakes, and regular ice cream.
  • Find baked chips and reduced calorie snacks. Or have a bit of fruit instead.
  • Watch your serving sizes. Even too much “healthy” food could potentially cause weight gain.

Tips:

  • Compare labels of similar foods, then opt for the one with smaller amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Adults should consume lower than 2400 mg. of sodium daily. In case you have hypertension, it is best to prefer even less.
  • Try adding spices and herbs in your own cooking to take the place of salt for enhancing flavor.

A little bit of training goes a long way

Anything that gets you up and moving will work for you. Here’s what it can do:

  • Reduce your risk of developing diabetes type 2 symptoms
  • Reduce your risk of coronary disease and stroke
  • Lower hypertension and cholesterol
  • Reduce blood glucose (sugar) levels if you have diabetes, which can lessen your risk of developing diabetes-related complications
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Help you to lose fat
  • Provide you with more energy
  • Allow you to sleep better
  • Build stronger bones and muscles

You do not need to go to a gym, play sports or use fancy equipment. Certainly, it’s best to discuss with a medical expert before starting any exercise regimen.

If you have Diabetes

Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are much more important in case you have diabetes. Well-balanced meals can help keep your glucose (sugar) level as near to normal as it can be. Being active likewise helps you reduce blood glucose. In case you increase your level of physical activity, you might be able to take less insulin or diabetes pills. In case you are inactive, have heart disease or maybe a history of foot ulcers, consult your doctor about safe exercise for you.

Check your blood glucose before exercising. If it’s under 100 mg/dl, eat some fruit, crackers or drink glass of milk or juice.

Check it again after exercising to understand how your blood glucose reacts to workout. Bring a snack if you’ll be active for a couple of hours.

About the writer

Patricia Harris writes for the http://www.diabeticmenus.org, her personal hobby web site aimed at guidelines to eat healthy to prevent and manage diabetes.

Beer, Food & Fundraising: A Combination That Can’t Miss

In just a few weeks, the 1847 Blake House Inn B&B will be proudly hosting the Kick Back & Kook Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew. The dates of the events are Friday, June 4 & Saturday, June 5. We almost changed the date due to another event going on in Asheville the same weekend: Beer City Brewfest. However, there are some major differences between the two events:

  • The Beer City Brewfest is ONLY on Saturday, June 5th while our event is on Friday AND Saturday. So people can attend both!
  • The Beer City Brewfest is a beer-focused event. Our event is primarily a culinary event with beer pairings. The focus of Feasting With Brew is not on the Brew; it’s on the FOOD with the BREW!
  • The Beer City Brewfest is not pet-friendly, but we are!!!
  • Ticket prices for the Brewfest are $35/each; our ticket prices are only $29 for each day, with cooking classes offered Friday & Saturday nights for $45 & $65 each respectively.
  • Feasting With Brew is a FUNDRAISER! All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Hope & Light Foundation (information below). Eat, drink & mingle while supporting a great cause!
  • Feasting With Brew will include raffles and silent auction items including a FREE night stay at the Inn, the cookbook: Passion on a Plate and apron from Chef Angela McKeller, items donated by local Asheville shops, plus other local arts & craft items. This event is about so much more than beer.

Of course I have a bias for the Feasting With Brew events, but I am in no way dissing the Beer City Brewfest. The timing of our events still allows people to attend both!  Following are the full details of our Kick Back & Kook Culinary Event: Feasting With Brew:

Tickets can be purchased HERE as well as on the day of the event at the Inn. There is a DISCOUNT if you buy tickets for Friday & Saturday! If there are any Asheville businesses that would like to sell tickets, please contact Angela McKeller. Ticket sellers can make a little $ for each ticket you sell!

Book a room at the Inn for the weekend (at least 2 nights) and receive a 10% discount off the ticket price of ANY event you attend! Plus, the FIRST room reservation for that weekend will receive a FREE 1847 Blake House Inn B&B soup mug. The mugs just arrived this week!

Hope to see you there!

Asheville, NC B&Bs: Perfect for the Small Destination Wedding

Asheville, NC has become a destination wedding locale in recent years. What exactly is a destination wedding? Well, it started out meaning an elopement where the people involved had to travel somewhere in order to get married. Now, it has expanded to mean a wedding at a location other than where the bride and groom live that can also include guests.

As such, Asheville is a great location for people to travel to to get married. This city and the surrounding area offer so much for the wedding guest and traveler. Some of the backdrops for weddings include hills and mountains, rivers and waterfalls, historical houses and loads of interesting architecture, gardens, barns, and even hot air balloons!

While Asheville has event locations that can accommodate hundreds and hundreds of guests with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, this city is more receptive to smaller destination weddings with budget-conscious brides and grooms. We run the gamut of wedding/reception locations from small, quaint churches and B&Bs to large conference centers and, of course, the Biltmore Estate. What this city does not have, and probably never will, is the drive-through chapels you see in Las Vegas, although I get calls at the Inn from people looking to do the quickie ceremony. What people need to understand is that we are a destination wedding location, but we do not offer the cheap, cliche-type ceremonies you find elsewhere.

At Blake House, we can accommodate weddings up to 150 guests, but the average size that I see here is under 60. I have seen a trend in the past four years from larger groups to smaller groups, of just the closest family and friends. People would rather spend their money on a down payment for a house, than for a huge wedding attended by people they don’t know.  This bed and breakfast offers an alternative to the typical hotel banquet hall or conference space at a reasonable price. And Asheville is filled with wedding locations just like mine.

This past weekend, the Inn welcomed the Riddle/Robbins wedding party for a BEAUTIFUL wedding for just under 50 guests. I am posting several photos below (with permission from the bride and groom, of course). I was most impressed with the Mother of the Bride (MOB) and her incredible organizational skills. In no way was she overbearing or uncontrollable (we don’t see those kinds of guests here just by virtue of the types of people we attract at the Inn). Sharon should become an event/wedding planner because her attention to detail is just fabulous.  The colors chosen by the bride and groom were white, black, and lime green. The flowers included purple as well and I thank the MOB for generously donating the flowers to the Inn for our guests to enjoy this week.

The weather called for thunderstorms, wind, and low temperatures. We only experienced one of the three, wind and that was only in spurts. We did not have any rain and the low temperatures only went down to the 40s at night. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day for the wedding ceremony, held at 3:00 pm.  The Rehearsal Dinner on Friday was catered by Luella’s Bar-B-Que and Colorful Palate catered the Wedding Reception on Saturday. The guests and I were impressed and happy with both, me with the professionalism of the staff and the wedding party with the quality of the food! Jeanne from Appearances Salon & Spa provided onsite makeup and hair services to the bride. The delicious carrot wedding cake was provided by Tiffany’s Baking Co. and the acoustic trio Strictly Clean and Decent played some fabulous bluegrass and folk music when the bride’s daughter walked her down the aisle as well as during the reception.

Please enjoy my amateur photos and let me know if you have questions. I am happy to discuss your wedding or other special event needs.

Surprising Gifts in the Form of Kind Words

In today’s world, there is an emphasis on reviews. Many people do or don’t buy or try a product or service based on someone’s personal opinion about that product or service. In my world, the world of travel, hospitality, and tourism, there are many sites out there for people to leave anonymous reviews of me and my B&B. Trip Advisor, Yelp, BedandBreakfast.com, just to name a few. Not to mention someone’s personal blog or website.

Someone has a bad experience or just a bad day and they can ruin a business’s reputation. Or at least make it difficult to overcome. I have received my share of good AND bad reviews. After the initial upset caused, I have been able to take a step back and really look at what the reviewer is saying. In some cases, their issues were totally valid and I have sought to remedy problems. Things like an a/c unit that is not working properly or someone not wanting to share table space with other guests or not liking something I cook are easy enough to fix. Personality conflicts and not liking my style of running the Inn are not so easy to change, but I try my best. As a result, I have definitely seen a change over the past several years in the number of unhappy guests versus happy guests. It’s not that I received a large number of bad reviews, but when you receive one or two a year, it leaves an impression.  The ultimate goal as an innkeeper is to offer a welcoming house for guests and to enhance their lodging experience with a genuinely pleasant and accommodating attitude.

I think I have come a long way from the first 2 years of B&B ownership and a background in Human Resources where policies are policies and you don’t break them and where everything has its place and any deviation caused stress. Taking the review comments from unhappy guests and comments from the happy ones too, I feel so much better now that I listen more and don’t get so worried about the small stuff. If a guest breaks something, I don’t break out into hives anymore; it’s no big deal. It can be replaced. I have gotten rid of some of the fees that I used to charge for things like early check-ins and large group cleaning gratuities. Let the airlines and hotel chains nickel and dime their customers with lots of extra fees.

Many of the changes I have made over the years have come as a result of positive feedback rather than negative feedback. When someone criticizes your way of doing things, it’s easy to ignore their comments or become so defensive that you can’t hear what is being said. But when you have a conversation with a happy guest and they ask if you can change something about your Inn, their room, their breakfast or its operation, it is so much easier to take their words to heart, because you know they are coming from a place of caring about you and your business and because they plan to come back!

My suggestion to anyone getting ready to rip into a business via an anonymous review would be to try speaking to the owner, innkeeper, or manager first. You may find that a few kind words go further than a scathing post on everything you hated about your experience or the product. If that doesn’t work (sometimes a request is out of the control of even the person in charge), then a post with objective information and suggestions for improvement will still probably go further than nothing but negative comments. Even humor goes a long way.

I wanted to share a couple of cards from guests I received recently. How many people sit down and spend a few minutes writing a card to another person, a business? And to receive two cards, one in March & one in April, was so touching that I felt the need to share with my readers and guests how much I appreciate them once they leave the Inn. This is the reason why people looking for a personal experience should consider staying at a B&B versus a hotel. We WANT to establish relationships with our guests.

The first card was sent just before Easter from guests who have been to the Inn 4-5 times over the past couple of years. I had not seen them since the fall so to receive an Easter card was thrilling. The guests wrote: “Thanks so much for remembering us with a gift certificate! That was so thoughtful of you and sweet! Spring has finally come to Indiana; February was our cold, snowy month. We just love you and Blake House and are looking forward to coming down to Asheville again in 2010.”

The second card was sent mid-April from a guest who had stayed here a couple of years ago and had come back to visit family in the area. She wrote, “Dear Leslie, Thanks for launching me into Spring 2010 in royal style.  Loved my stay at your beautiful inn. I’ve tormented many with tales of your fabulous breakfasts. (The only attempt I’ve made at imitating was the baked grapefruit.) A success! Best regards. P.S. I’ll be back!”

As an innkeeper, I meet a lot of people; some are just passing through Asheville for one night and some stay for several days. My hope is that everyone enjoys their stay, no matter the amount of time. But if you don’t, you can talk to me and I will listen. If you do, I thank you most ardently for any kind words you say or write, whether you choose to share them with others via online review sites, or if you only share them with me in a sweet card or email.

I love Asheville! I love this Inn! And I love everyone who shares part of their life with me and this old house.

Biltmore: More Than Just a Big House

Did you know that Biltmore offers more than just the largest private home in the country and its own winery? I did, but I didn’t know it offers as much as it does. With your General Admission ticket you get to explore the house and gardens, the new Antler Hill Village, restaurants, shops, and acres and acres of walking and biking trails.  In addition, you can take guided tours, specialty wine experiences, and lots of outdoor activities. These additional experiences cost more, but if you planned on doing some of the activities while in Asheville, why not enjoy them on the Estate? Here’s a list of all the neat stuff you can opt to do to enhance your experience:

  • Audio Guide to the Biltmore House: $10 – I advise my guests that if they have never been to Biltmore, this self-guided audio tour is worth the price as they will receive so much more information about the house, family and history than what they get from the brochure alone.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Tour: $17
  • Family & Friends Tour: $17
  • Rooftop Tour: $17
  • Guided House Tour: $17
  • Legacy of the Land: $19
  • Antler Hill Farm Guided Tour: $10
  • Red Wine & Chocolate Specialty Wine Experience: contact Guest Services for pricing information
  • Signature Tasting Specialty Wine Experience: contact Guest Services for pricing information
  • Bike Rentals: $10/1 hour; $30/4 hours – daily trail passes are $5 without bike rentals
  • Carriage Rides: $35
  • Fly-fishing School: $125/2-hour lesson; equipment and materials provided
  • Guided Segway Tours: $75
  • Guided Horseback Trail Rides: $70/adults; $60/children (8-17)
  • Land Rover Experience Driving School: starting at $250 per vehicle for 1-6 hour adventures
  • Land Rover Ride-Along Expedition: $25
  • Kids’ Land Rover Adventure Course: $55 (ages 4-10)
  • River Float Trips: $35/guided raft trips; $25/self-guided kayak trips
  • Sporting Clays School: $175

For any of the experiences listed above, you will need to contact Guest Services in order to make reservations and to check for pricing as it may change from time to time: 800.543.2961. Not all Experiences are available year-round, so a quick call or a visit to the website can provide the dates for whatever you want to enjoy.

My 5 Favorite Dog-Friendly Activities

Asheville is definitely a dog-friendly city and there are a plethora of activities in WNC where a person can take their pooch. I certainly have not experienced them all, but wanted to share my 5 favorites.

  • Gray Line Historic Trolley Tours - there are a couple of trolley tours and one comedy tour in Asheville. I am familiar with the Gray Line tours (red trolleys) and I know they allow well-behaved dogs, no matter what size. The trolleys are roomy and the aisles have plenty of space for your dog to sit. My suggestion is to sit as far back in the trolley as possible so nobody trips over your dog. I carry trolley vouchers at the Inn and they are well worth the price. Adult tickets are $20, children (3-12) pay $10. There are 9 stops on the trolley route and the buses run March – December (March is on a half schedule). Riders may exit the trolley at any or all stops and your trolley admission also gets you into the Thomas Wolfe Memorial (sorry, no dogs allowed inside). Some of the trolley stops include the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, the River Arts District, Biltmore Village, and downtown Asheville.
  • Chimney Rock Park - This State park is located 30 minutes southeast of the Inn. Open year-round, the park offers 4-5 different hiking/walking trails, from easy to moderate. The only place dogs are not permitted is the elevator and cafe located at the base of the Chimney Rock. However, you and your dog can still get there by taking the amazing amount of stairs that wind up and around the side of the cliff walls. My dog Hummer (a 90-lb weimaraner) made it with little effort, but it may prove strenuous for older, short-legged dogs. If that is the case, there are several easy to walk trails; one leads you to the base of the waterfall. The Park offers all sorts of cool activities from bird watching, to photography lessons, rock climbing to an Easter Sunday Sunrise service. Cost to get into the park is $14 for adults, $7 for children, free for dogs! I carry $1 off discount coupons at the Inn.
  • Asheville’s Urban Trail – The Urban Trail is a 1.7 mile walk through downtown Asheville with 30 points of interest, spread over 5 historic periods in time. The self-guided walking tour starts at the Asheville Art Museum at Pack Square, but tourgoers can start at any point and end at any point. I carry trail guides at the Inn and guests and dogs are free to stop along the way at one of the many restaurants in downtown Asheville that offers outdoor seating so that you can refresh and re-energize before completing the tour.
  • North Carolina Arboretum – The Arboretum is a 434-acre natural preserve with 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of hiking and biking trails. Parking is $8 per vehicle and the first Tuesday of each month is free. There are nine different trails rated from Easy to Difficult. The Arboretum offers permanent and temporary exhibits, a unique bonsai collection, and educational programs for adults and children. The Arboretum is located approximately a 10-minute drive from the Inn and will provide a wonderful outdoor experience for you and your pet at a very reasonable price.
  • Biltmore Estate – No Top 5 List would be complete without mentioning the Biltmore Estate. While dogs are not permitted in the house, the rest of the 8,000-acre estate is open to your canine friend, including many walking trails.  If you want to enjoy the house, I recommend making use of the Estate’s kennels, located in Parking Lot C. This lot is typically used by RVs and buses, but there is plenty of parking for regular vehicles and you can catch a shuttle bus to the house from this lot.  The kennels are self-serve and free of charge. There are 8 kennels, very nicely maintained and sturdy, enclosed on all sides and located under trees, thus providing additional shade. The kennels also have water bowls for your pets, plenty of room for them to move around, and locks for you to take the key.  I snapped several photos of the kennels so you can see what they look like in advance of your visit…
    Biltmore KennelsBiltmore Kennels Biltmore Estate

There are many, many more dog-friendly attractions and activities around Asheville. I carry maps and hiking guides that include specific information on hikes that are appropriate for dogs. So if you are wondering what to do in Asheville with Fido, start with my Favorite 5 list and if you get through it, I can promise to provide more options for you.

Hope to see you and your dog in Asheville soon!

 

Earth Day – What it Really Means

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. It will be celebrated on Thursday, April 22 in many ways and in many countries. But what does Earth Day really mean?

In the US, Earth Day as it was named, is celebrated on April 22nd, having first started in 1970. Around the world, Earth Day is called different things and celebrated at different times, but the concept is still the same. It is a day (or period of time) for people to appreciate and focus on the Earth’s environment, either through events, fundraisers, celebrations, and other types of activities geared toward awareness.

In Western NC, we too, celebrate Earth Day. Some of the activities planned here include:

At the Inn, I try to be aware of the purpose of Earth Day year-round, through an ongoing effort to green the Inn and to reduce waste and the environmental impact of operating this place. I wrote an earlier blog on my efforts at becoming green and those are ongoing.  Even today, my son built a 4′ X 7′ garden box so that I can start growing my own vegetables, herbs and fruits for use in cooking here at the Inn. While a small gesture, it’s just one step in a checklist of things I am doing around here to become more eco-conscious.

As travelers, we all have the responsibility to pay attention to the amount of trash we create while on the road (we tend to produce more trash away from home than at home). We should also pay attention to the practices of the places we stay at and eat at and support those businesses that make an effort at eco-friendliness.  In Asheville, there are plenty of accommodations and restaurants that are going green. Check out Posana Cafe and Green Sage Coffeehouse Cafe and you’ll be impressed, not only with their food, but with their “greenness.”

For me, Earth Day is something I try to be conscious of all year. But even if you only celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, many people can do a lot of good. Come to Asheville during our Earth Day celebrations, and you will receive a 40% discount off the 3rd night of your stay (between 4/13 – 4/27).

Go Blue Ridge Card: A little Known Money-Saver

Although Asheville is a relatively small city, it is a popular tourist destination. When I speak to potential guests on the telephone, I find myself educating many on all that Asheville, and the surrounding cities and mountains, has to offer.  Asheville is not just the downtown area, although downtown is definitely a must-see, must-experience part of the city.  I also have to explain that for most people, you can’t really experience all this area has to offer on foot; you really need a car (or some other long-distance type of transportation) to get around to everything. Therefore, being a B&B in South Asheville about a 10-15 minute drive from “downtown” is not a bad thing because guests are going to be driving all over this area anyway.

For example, southeast of Asheville is Chimney Rock Park and Lake Lure; south of Asheville is “South Asheville” and all the development going on including the opening of several restaurants, spas/salons, shopping areas and movie theaters plus Hendersonville (the apple capital of the south) and Flat Rock; southwest of Asheville is Brevard with all its glorious waterfalls, Dupont State Park and Pisgah National Forest with pieces of the Blue Ridge Parkway and tons of hiking; west of Asheville is “West Asheville” and its new revival of the area shops, restaurants, and artist community; further west is Waynesville, Cataloochie Ski and Elk area, and the Cherokee Reservation; northwest of Asheville you have several starting points for white water rafting and other water adventures; north and northeast of Asheville are lots and lots of cool places and mountains to explore including the Blue Ridge Parkway, Boone and Blowing Rock, Linville Caverns, Mount Mitchell State Park, Grandfather Mountain, and several ski locations; and east of Asheville is Black Mountain.

There is so much to include in the list, but I assume the reader gets the picture.  Asheville is much more than just downtown Asheville and in order to really get the flavor of this area, visitors need more than a couple of days. However, I totally understand that people may not have a lot of time and want to pack in as much as possible during a short or long stay.  That’s where the Go Blue Ridge Card comes in.

The Go Blue Ridge Card is one card for about 30 different attractions. One card, one fee, up to 30 places to visit! You can get a 2-day, 3-day, or 5-day card and days do not have to be used consecutively. You have up to 2 weeks to use all of the days on your card.

Some of the attractions included in the card are: BILTMORE ESTATE, Grayline Trolley Tours of Asheville, Lake Lure Tours, Chimney Rock Park, Grandfather Mountain, and Wildwater Rafting, just to name a few.

This is a HUGE savings if you plan to visit more than 2 attractions on the list.  The cost of each ticket is as follows:

  • 2-day: $84.99 (adult); $54.99 (child – ages 3-12)
  • 3-day: $114.99 (adult); $59.39 (child – ages 3-12)
  • 5-day: $159.99 (adult); $94.49 (child – ages 3-12)

To add a little excitement (and incentive) to guests, during the month of APRIL, I am offering a SPRING BREAK MID-WEEK DEAL:

  • stay 3 nights in any room priced $130/night or higher (Sundays – Thursdays), receive a complimentary 2-day GO BLUE RIDGE CARD.
  • Stay 4 nights in any room priced $130/night or higher (Sundays – Thursdays), receive a complimentary 3-day GO BLUE RIDGE CARD.
  • Stay 5 nights in any room priced $130/night or higher (Sundays – Thursdays), receive a complimentary 5-day GO BLUE RIDGE CARD.

This special may not be combined with any other discounts, specials, or offers. Complimentary card is for one person and reservation must be booked between 4/1 – 4/24 for stays to be completed by 4/29.

Update: Spring Goals

Well, it’s been a month since I set a few goals for the Spring. Following is the list:

  1. repair the “roof” of the gazebo which collapsed under the weight of the first snow we had in December.  After assessing the damage, I’m confident that with some new wood arms, I can repair the ones that broke.
  2. replace any dead plants and bushes around the patio areas and in containers. Plant new plants in the pergola area to continue filling it in as a garden area.
  3. replace some rotting wood around the front porch roof and outside the bay window of the dining room.
  4. build a small 4X6 vegetable/fruit garden outside the kitchen on the edge of the pergola/garden area. I would like to start small with a few vegetables and fruits and expand from there.
  5. research the feasibility of building and stocking a small chicken coop enclosure to provide eggs for cooking. This may not end up being a goal, it’s just an idea right now and I want to look into whether this is even something the city of Asheville will allow me to do.

At this point, I’m about 95% complete with the first goal of fixing the gazebo roof. My father and stepmother visited for a few days and they did a lot to get it repaired (actually, they did most of the work). I replaced one broken wood arm and my dad was able to get all of the arms up and back into their holder. The one casualty of the damage was to the canvas. When the roof fell, the canvas ripped in several places so it did not go back into the holder along with the arms (see photo).

As such, I had to staple the canvas to the tops of each arm. Unfortunately, it does not look the same and there are some rips and gaps. However, being the creative person that I am :0), I am going to attach more fabric to the underside of the arms so that nobody has to see the damaged canvas. By the time my readers come visit, the inside canvas should be up and I’ll be sure to make it look decorative so that it will appear good as new.

One goal – check!

I have begun working on goal #2 of replacing dead bushes and plants around the patio and garden areas and in containers. Today was the first day of warm weather and a free afternoon. I have started by pulling out dead stumps, cutting back bushes, branches, and dead grasses around the patios, gazebo, and front porch. On Friday, my landscapers start again for the year and will be cleaning up debris and leaves so that I can fully assess what needs to be replaced. I am really surprised that most everything I planted last year is coming back, given the cold, snowy winter. Some plants that I thought for sure were dead are sprouting leaves and buds. I may not have to replace as much as I had thought, but I anticipate completing this goal (or being close to completion) by the end of April.

Goal #3 is getting looked at on Friday.

I have the materials list for goal #4 and hope to start building the bed by next week; and to start filling it in within the next 2-3 weeks. I plan to start with tomatoes, peppers, basil, and mint and will go from there.

I have not even begun to look into goal #5. That will definitely be last on my list.

The good thing about publishing goals is that it’s not enough just to post them on the wall for me to see. By showing them to my readers, I feel more motivated to work on them.  Sharing goals with others means that more than one person is thinking about them, and not wanting to disappoint my readers, I am determined to accomplish them.

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