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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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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. 

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Herb Garden

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I have never been very good at taking care of plants. I’ve over-watered countless houseplants and flowers over the years and I consider myself to have a black thumb. I don’t even let myself wander into the clearance section of Home Depot’s garden department because those poor plants don’t deserve such a bad ending.

This year, however, things are going to be different.

A couple weeks ago, my friend Jenna and I went to Crabtree Farms‘ spring plant sale to browse through their rows and rows of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. This farm is an urban farm that encourages local involvement and offers CSA shares during their growing season.

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We weren’t planning on purchasing any of their plants, but…

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I have since bought even more herbs for my little patio garden, and they seem to be doing well! Some even need to be re-potted into bigger pots because they’ve already outgrown the space I gave them. And making sure they all get enough sunlight on the patio I have is a little tricky because I live on the second floor of an apartment complex, but I made a makeshift plant stand out of some bricks and wooden planks that seems to be working out well so far. (My cat Olive approves anyway.)

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Maybe I do have a green thumb after all.

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Chattanooga Film Festival

I live in a really great city. I would say I’m a little biased, but I moved here last summer because I already knew it was great. But I am still constantly amazed at how wonderful it actually is. There’s a huge local scene here that values the importance of community and knows what being a neighbor means. I work at a local coffee shop, and I often see our regulars all around town. I walk down the street and pass by countless restaurants that incorporate local food sources in their fare. I pass by shops where the owners sit behind the counters and are always willing to start up conversations with you as you browse through their wares.

This community finds itself located on the Tennessee River, and they have done an amazing job at creating something that feels just like home. As my friend Jenna would say, “It’s the biggest small town I’ve ever lived in.” Most importantly, this town offers an endless supply of opportunities to be involved in, and that, I think, is what makes people stay.

Chattanooga’s annual film festival happened recently, and I was able to attend the Tennessee filmmakers block where the only stipulations were the film either had to be made by a Tennessean or it had to be about Tennessee in some way. I’m sure there were many entries, but in the end, only 10 films were shown. The directors ranged from amateur filmmakers with minimal equipment to old hats with Hollywood ties.

film fest

Each one was different from the one before, but they were all so well done. Some were dialogue based, some visual, and some let the actual plot guide the story.

There was one that had me completely captivated called Persimmon Ridge, directed by Paul Marchard. This one was 20-minute black and white film that followed a woman around her farm through the spring time. There was no speaking, but the sounds of the farm and the surrounding woods gave the film a soundtrack that brought back memories of visits to my own family’s Georgia farm. With its seemingly simple elements, it told a beautiful story of family, history, and hard work.

Another was a mockumentary about a band of two whose only instruments were pillows. And they only played covers. (Get it?) This one had great comedic timing and was a light-hearted addition to the collections of films. You could just tell this film was fun to make, and the director (Sylvia Zdunek) was praised by an audience member for her comedic talent during the Q & A.

A third stand-out called The Little Stage featured a forgotten building sitting on the edge of Bon Aqua, TN. Directed by Will Berry, it showcased some lost footage of Johnny Cash dating back to the 1970’s that showed the importance of this old building. The film follows the restoration of this structure from its decrepit state to its newly refurbished form as a small music hall and museum, paying homage to its former talented guests.

I consider myself lucky when I think about the things I have been able to do and see since I moved here.

Guys, Chattanooga is so great. The people. The mountains. The food. The coffee. Everything. I’m just so glad I get to live in a place like this.