Uncategorized

Asheville!

I love Asheville. I love the smallness and the bigness. I love the local scene. I love the mountains and the neighborhoods. I love all the houses. I love the art.

I just had the chance to take the boyfriend here on his first trip to this beautiful city, and since we only had one full day to see everything, we did…everything.

  • Battlecat Coffee
  • Firestorm Books
  • Whist
  • Flora
  • River Arts District
  • White Duck Taco Shop
  • Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
  • Asheville Bee Charmer
  • Malaprops
  • French Broad Chocolate Lounge
  • Rosetta’s Kitchen and Buchi Bar
  • Downtown Books and News
  • Urban Orchard Cider Co.

9.1 miles, 19,394 steps later, and we are exhausted. But so happy. The highlights were definitely Flora (a flower shop that doubles as a tea room and coffee shop), White Duck (the tacos were amazing and the line to order was super quick), Downtown Books (an incredible and affordable collection of books and zines with a friendly staff), and Urban Orchard (nothing like local hard cider to end the day).

We booked a room through Airbnb at this perfect West Asheville house. The owner has been very nice, but we haven’t seen her much. We kept passing her on the way in and out while we were there. Her neighborhood is less than a mile walk from Battlecat, and the weather this weekend was perfect for seeing the sights. I swear everyone here has a vegetable garden planted in their front lawn, and the houses are all dripping in character.

We spent the morning in West Asheville and the evening downtown. I’d say, we did a pretty good job covering all the bases while getting a good feel for the city. I don’t want to leave!

Uncategorized

My October Reading List

I’m sure you all have noticed that I love books. And ever since I got my library card, I’ve been reading a lot of new books, particularly ones that I probably never would have picked up at a book store. This all stems from the majority of the conversations I’m having these days – about future plans and how I can make those dreams into a reality starting small and starting now. I envision a healthier, more holistic lifestyle for myself.

So I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been reading because they make a lot of sense to me, and it’s been refreshing seeing my thoughts written out in someone else’s words. Like I’m not the only person who is questioning the things I’ve been told and taught. I promise I’m not one of those “crunchy, granola hippies.” I just want to be able to support my local community and in turn, supplement my own well being in a way that I can feel good about.

  • The Roots of My Obsession: Thirty Great Gardeners Reveal Why They Garden, edited by Thomas C. Cooper
  • Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground up, by Daphne Miller
  • Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper, by C. Marina Marchese
  • Compost this Book!, by Thomas Christopher and Marty Asher
  • The Wildlife Garden: Planning Backyard Habitats, by Charlotte Seidenberg
  • The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan
  • Herbal Tea Gardens, by Marietta Marshall Marcin
Uncategorized

Good food isn’t hard to find

If you’ve noticed a pattern on my blog lately through the last few posts, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been eating a lot of fresh local food, mostly from the weekly farmers market. This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the past few weeks or so. 


The boyfriend and I discussed our basic goals for the lives we want to lead, and they boiled down to:

  1. Eating well (healthy food, local food)
  2. Moving more (exercise, taking walks, bike rides)
  3. Being earth conscious

This has led to some very nice new habits like choosing the paper bags over plastic at the grocery store, sorting out recyclables from the garbage, turning off the a/c when we don’t need it (like when we leave the house), making our own bread, and buying fresh food for the day we need it and not overstocking the fridge with food that we’ll forget about and eventually have to throw out. 


I’ve also been doing a lot of reading and listening to podcasts about the food habits of different cultures. Mostly the French actually. Their mentality of eating as a pleasurable activity, never depriving yourself but making compromises that suit your desires, and eating fresh, seasonal food makes a lot of sense to me. 


I also luckily live right behind a local used bookstore that has some truly amazing bargains if you’re willing to sort through everything they have. So I’ve gotten a few books that are relevant to what I’m interested in without breaking the bank. Seriously, none of these books cost me more than $3! I love good deals, especially when that means I can buy more than one book at a time. 


So here I am on this food journey, and I’ve been making a lot of new recipes that will be stored away for future use. And I’m happily eating fewer processed foods and more vegetables. I feel better, I’m sleeping better, and I feel like I have more energy than I used to. 

I’m hopefully going to be posting a recipe or two here every now and again because they’re just too good to keep to myself! 

Uncategorized

My Second Library Card

Since I failed to post something yesterday, I figured I would share about my Saturday with you all. 

As with most Saturdays, the boyfriend and I wandered downtown for the market. It’s been grey and drizzly all day, but the temperatures are feeling like autumn, so I am in my happy place. We invested in a small potted lavender plant, and I found a beautiful new coffee mug. 

Our next stop of the day was the public library. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a library other than the campus library at my university. The first library card I ever had, I got when I was 5 years old. My mom sewed a honeybee bag for me to carry all my library books in. I still have that actually. 

So the boyfriend and I signed up for our new cards and we wandered through all the sections. I found a few books to read. I’m deep into my French obsession right now my new reading list includes: Vegetables by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, The Vagabond by Collete, and French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guilano. The boyfriend found a couple movies to check out and a copy of The Atlantic to read. 

So now here we sit, watching the rain fall beyond of the ceiling-high windows, enjoying the vast bounties of the local library. 

Uncategorized

Unnatural Creatures

Since there’s still no wifi set up at the new place, my attention span has gone way up, and I’ve been working on my very large reading list. I just finished up Donna Tartt’s The Secret History a few days ago (just amazing!), so I had to find another one quickly.

I’ve been wandering my way through Neil Gaiman’s repertoire (not in any specific order), and I managed to get my hands on his collection of his favorite short stories that involve creepy and unsettling creatures, aptly named Unnatural Creatures. I admire everything Gaiman does, and while only one of the stories was penned by him, I knew I had to read it.

So here is my ranking of the stories from my favorite to least favorite. The nice thing about having such a collection is that there’s a little bit of this and that, and there’s probably at least one story that each reader will cling to. So please take this at face value and read the book for yourself if you haven’t already! So good.

  1. The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees
  2. Moveable Beast
  3. The Cockatoucan; or, Great Aunt Willoughby
  4. … (the title of this one doesn’t translate to text and is also unpronounceable, but if you read the book, you’ll know why!)
  5. The Smile on the Face
  6. The Griffin and the Minor Cannon
  7. Come Lady Death
  8. Or All the Seas with Oysters
  9. Ozioma the Wicked
  10. Prismatica
  11. The Flight of the Horse
  12. Gabriel-Ernest
  13. The Manticore, the Mermaid, and Me
  14. The Compleat Werewolf
  15. Sunbird
  16. The Sage of Theare

The first 5 are my most favorite ones, and they were hard to rank. The last 3 I couldn’t make myself read all the way through, either due to the writing style or the sentence structures. But I know that someone definitely loves them!

If you read the book, let me know what you think!

Uncategorized

5 Books for Your Spring Reading List

 

books

  • The Messenger – Markus Zusak
    • This is one my all time favorite books. Zusak is probably best known for The Book Thief  (which you should also read!), but this book deserves attention all its own. It follows a 19 year old cab driver named Ed who unwittingly stops a bank robbery and then begins to receive playing cards in the mail. Always aces, with clues written on them. He goes through a journey of self-discovery (blah blah), and he learns that the world is much bigger, more broken, and much more beautiful than he imagined. But what really kept me around was the writing. Zusak has this way with words that brings a poetic edge to everything he writes, and it paints the most beautiful pictures in my head.
    • “Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
    • This one really caught me off guard. I am a huge fan of Gaiman as a writer and as a person. I follow him on different social media platforms, and he comes across as a very calm, genuine, and relatable person. And I’ve been meaning to pick up some of his books for a long time now, but you know how that goes. Anyway, I started with his novel Neverwhere, but I was a little unimpressed. Not that it was bad. I just had built up what I thought Gaiman was in my head. And believe me when I tell you that American Gods went above and beyond the image I created. This novel is about a man named Shadow, an ex-con and widower, recently released from jail, who is whisked away by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday on a road trip through the backroads of America to collect all of the old gods that have been pushed aside by the new (TV, Media). Exciting, thrilling, and dark, you will not be disappointed in this pick.
    • “People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
    • This one. It gives me chills thinking about how relevant this book has become in the past few years. I read this one for the first time about 3 years ago now, and it gave me so much to think about. The Handmaid’s Tale comes across as a cautionary tale about what it means to give up our rights as women and what can be taken away from us so easily. It’s set in the (not so distant?) future where women have become infertile and those who can bear children are forced to become vessels for the rich to procreate. It follows the story of one handmaid in particular and her daily struggle to remain alive and well in a world that is so decidedly anti-woman and anti-choice. I think it’s an important book for everyone to read, not just women.
    • “There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”
    • “‘Ordinary,’ said Aunt Lydia, ‘is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.'”
  • Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
    • I am not generally one for post-apocalyptic novels. There have been and continue to be so many of them, they all start to blend together for me. However, I was drawn to Station Eleven because it placed its focus on something more than just a group of survivors. There are several story lines from different time lines that don’t seem very cohesive, but they form a tangled web that slowly make sense as the story progresses. And the point of the novel is something greater than survival because “survival is insufficient.” It’s about how humanity needs something to live for in order to truly be human, be it art, religion, or a simple belief.
    • “I’ve been thinking lately about immortality. What it means to be remembered, what I want to be remembered for, certain questions concerning memory and fame. I love watching old movies. I watch the faces of long-dead actors on the screen, and I think about how they’ll never truly die . . . First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.”
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
    • Donna Tartt has quickly become one of my favorite writers. I read one quote from this novel online once, and I was hooked. It’s a hefty read, but the world she creates is imaginative and dark and so gorgeous. The Goldfinch is the story of a boy whose life is torn apart by tragedy and misfortune and neglectful guardians, and he quickly  slips into the world of drugs, antiques, and art forgery. Her writing is beautiful, and her characters are terrifically complex. I highly recommend picking this book up from your local book store.
    • “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life”
    • “—if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”