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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!

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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
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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey Teriyaki Sauce

No one turns down Brussels sprouts in my house. I know they often get a bad rap, but I think these tiny green sprouts are making a well-deserved come back, and with this recipe, I think you’ll see why they’re becoming one of my favorite things to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Brussels sprouts (about 2 heaping servings)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbs unsweetened peanut butter
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, or tarragon vinegar, etc)
  • 3-4 tbs olive oil (separated)
  • 3 tbs of your favorite teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 c dried cranberries
  • Half an orange, cut into small pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the Brussels sprouts, then cut into halves. Toss in 1-2 tbs of olive oil and arrange on a roasting pan. Flavor with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder to taste. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.
  2. Fill a small bowl with hot water, and place the dried cranberries in the water to re-hydrate while the sprouts are cooking. Cut up your orange and set aside.
  3. In another medium mixing bowl, whisk the peanut butter, honey, vinegar, the remaining olive oil, and the teriyaki sauce until combined.
  4. When your sprouts are done, drain the cranberries. Toss the sprouts, cranberries, and orange slices in the bowl with sauce. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Recipe: Gnocchi Soup

Now that colder weather seems to be on its way, I am looking for some soup recipes to cycle into my routine. I just love a good, hearty soup on a cold day, don’t you? My favorite is my mom’s beer cheese potato soup, but since the boyfriend isn’t a fan of cheese, I’ve been looking for another version of potato soup that we’ll both eat. 

Gnocchi soup seemed like the perfect opportunity so I found a recipe online and tweaked it to suit both our tastes. I get the creaminess I love without the cheese he dislikes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbs olive oil or butter
  • 1 c red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbs fresh basil
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 c chopped spinach
  • 1 16 oz package of gnocchi
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender. Add the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. 
  2. Slowly add cream and chicken broth until it starts to thicken. Add the thyme, basil, rosemary, spinach, and gnocchi. Simmer 5 minutes or until the gnocchi is cooked and the soup is thickened. Salt and pepper to taste. 

*If you want a thinner soup, add more chicken broth to taste. You can also add cooked chicken for a heartier soup. 

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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! 

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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. 

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Constellations and Cocoa

In keeping with the celestial theme this week, the boyfriend and I went to a local nature center here the other day to attend a class called Constellations and Cocoa. It was just as sweet as it sounds. They handed out some star maps and we went through a small slideshow showing some of the more well-known constellations before heading outside with coffee and cocoa in hand.

They have this huge clearing that’s perfect for stargazing. And being just outside the reach of the city lights, it was a great spot to enjoy the night sky somewhere that felt both serene and far away from the city.

As our eyes adjusted, and as the sky grew darker, the stars became brighter, and we were able to find and identify 7 constellations from the star maps they gave us.

I feel so lucky to live somewhere with a place that offers such great programs. And I’m especially lucky I get to do all of these things with my person.

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Farm Fresh and Fancy Free

Every week, I usually can get my hands on some farm fresh veggies, and they are so good. It makes everything a little better knowing I have something good just waiting to be cooked up for dinner at the end of a long day. 


And most evenings, the boyfriend and I hit up the local greenway for a run (well, I bike alongside him because this girl doesn’t run). It’s so beautiful around here at sunset. And this greenway is especially well taken care of, and we’ve been here long enough that we see lots of the same faces on the same trail. 


Life is really truly good.