DAYTRIPPER: A Quick Jaunt to Asheville – Part 1

 I've been bad, so very bad. 
Has anyone else noticed that today is September 12th and that the last time I posted was July 21st???
So much has happened in this last 8 weeks: blueberry picking and the resulting blueberry pie and muffins, Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho from our garden, a going away party for Sarah, a 2-week, strict gluten/sugar free cleanse and the resulting mood swings and forced creativity in the cucina, among other things. I'll tell you about these in due time, but first I wanted to share with you my most recent trip to Asheville (while it is still in focus)!!!
I'll forego any mis-placed desire to self shame and just pick up where I am now...

Buncombe County, North Carolina  
35.5800° N, 82.5558° W
The Paris of the South, a.k.a. Beer City, U.S.A
Motto: "Any way you like it."

Folks, this was a dream in the making. I can't tell you how long I've been wanting to visit Asheville. Friends have been telling me for years that I would love it down there; turns out, they weren't wrong!
Now, let me preface this post (a second time) by saying that this trip was more a day-trip than vacation; we were gone less than 36 hours and our feet touched North Carolina soil for a mere 21 hours, including beauty sleep. Crazy, I know, but let me explain...

(L) Bluegrass busking outside the Old Woolworth's, (R) Detail of the art deco S&B Cafeteria building downtown

My friend, Emily, was heading down for work. To be more exact, she was traveling for a mandatory two-hour meeting on Tuesday (leaving Monday afternoon and returning Tuesday evening), and I just happened to, well, invite myself along, you know, as a car buddy, just to keep her from falling asleep on the long, six-hour trek. (No shame, here.) But really, I just wanted to go to Asheville!!! Triple bonus that it was with a great friend AND it was expense paid.

Stunned by the offer––not because she was disgusted by my outrageous nerve to include myself in her itinerary, but because she was not used to having psuedo-unemployed friends who could drop everything at a moment's notice and take a wild trip like this––she agreed to my request.

Kudos to my free-wheeling, free-lance lifestyle for keeping me open and for my intuition and desire for allowing this deviant behavior, because this trip was just what I needed to refresh!

Nothing like a little day trip or mini-adventure to wake up your senses, open you to new things and refuel your desire for life!

We had dinner once we got into Asheville (at the famed Tupelo Honey Cafe, no less), checked into The Marriott's Renaissance Hotel, slept like rocks, and then awoke early to take in the foggy mountain air on our walk to breakfast at The Early Girl Eatery on Wall Street. Two foodie home runs in a row!

I simply devoured my gluten-free Early Girl Benny (poached eggs and spinach over fried grit cakes, topped with avocado slices and house-made salsa). I usually prefer hollandaise on poached eggs, but this was absolutely delish! I love how gluten-free friendly Asheville is; there are either alternatives everywhere you go, or full-menu devotion. After buying Ron some local hot sauce, we headed back to the hotel to check out.

Next up: Part 2 –– The historic Grove Park Inn, shopping and blissful wandering.

DAYTRIPPER: A Quick Jaunt to Asheville – Part 2

So last time I left off at us checking out of The Renaissance...We are down in Asheville, North Carolina, remember?

Emily agreed to take me out to The Grove Park Inn,  to show me the renovations her and her team at the architectural firm 3North completed last year. What a beautiful, historic inn; it is definitely worth a look! I could definitely imagine myself in fall watching the sunset over the mountains from the back veranda, or in winter rocking fire-side in the Great Hall with a steaming cup in hand.

The interior renovations are gorgeous. I cannot image what it looked like before the new carpets, fixtures, furniture, lighting and columns were designed and installed. It has a fresh, modern air without being stale and while still maintaining it's historic vibe. The earthy elements of the natural rock walls and craftsman wood details give the high-ceiling lobby an inviting lodgey feel, which is just what this mountain-girl likes to see. I only wish that it was a little cooler outside so the fires would have been lit, how utterly dreamy and cozy that would have been!

We took an unsactioned tour of the grounds and interiors, even getting a lucky glance inside one of the rooms on the third floor. (Mikhail Baryshnikov slept there in 1984, just so ya know.)

The Grove Park Inn also has a spa, several restaurants, and cute and kitschy shops on sight including a women's apparel store called CLOTH and a sweets shop called THE PINK PIG, both of which Emily's team helped create.

Let's just say it was a whirlwind trip, a quick–too quick, if you ask me–glimpse into life in this gorgeous mountain city. Asheville deserves better than 36 measly hours and 2.5 meals. Upon departure, I sent her a prayer of love and respect and a promise to return soon. (I'm already planning our itinerary.)


It Is Good To Be Back!


What a whirlwind 2 months it has been. Filming finished over a week ago for "Killing Kennedy," and I am just now beginning to feel like myself again. I do apologize for the delay in posting since, but learning to reassimilate into normal life takes some getting used to. And by normal life I mean waking up at a decent hour (7:30 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m.), enjoying breakfast at home with my beloved, having the time to shower once in a while. There hasn't been a free moment to pet the cat, let alone pick up a camera and document this gorgeous summer as it slips by.

Not working 16+ hours-a-day, 5 days-a-week has also left me no doubt exhausted, and today is the first day that I haven't felt an uncontrollable urge to nap by 11 a.m. Weary-legged and dreary-eyed, I find myself horizontal on the couch, watching period dramas on Netflix more often than I'd like to admit, but if you have never worked grueling hours on your feet all day, in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, then you just wouldn't know what it is like...So no judging, okay?

The truth is that I have been pretty bombarded with general house and health upkeep since we wrapped on the 12th. When I'm not napping or, errr, couch-sitting, my days are filled with chores like cleaning my way through the 2 months of dirty laundry acquired during my work stint, or treating the house as organically as possible for fleas since I neglected my indoor/outdoor cat and missed multiple Revolution applications. Then there is the garden, which is brimming with cucumbers and ready-to-ripen tomatoes, and, in this heat, they need to be watered twice a day to ensure maximum efficiency. ( I sure seem to be making a lot of excuses, don't I?) I have neglected my house, my health, my cat, my lover and our relationship on this film, despite my best efforts, and getting all those houses in order is my priority numero uno.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thoroughly enjoying re-assimilating into my awesome life, I just don't necessarily have the additional energy to document and edit them for your enjoyment...not until now anyhow. I've relished this time keeping house, hanging laundry out-of-doors and slow mornings and bountiful brunches with Ron. I've had several successful thrift store shopping adventures and eaten some delicioso foods including homemade pesto pasta, peach and blackberry cobbler, and tons, tons, of caprese.

Ah, Life... It is good to be back.

"Killing Kennedy," a National Geographic special capturing the unforgettable Kennedy and Oswald assassinations, will premiere in November. I was fortunate enough to work with an extraordinary cast and crew–including several friends, the gorgeous Ginnifer Goodwin, the sweet-as-apple-pie Will Rothhaar and the talented Amy Andrews Harrell, who was just nominated for an Emmy for her Costume Design on Killing Lincoln! (Congrats Amy!!!!)

Look out for my name in the credits (hehe). It is sure to be a gorgeous period piece and I am looking forward to seeing it all come together on screen!

"Killing Kennedy" Photos by Kent Eanes, National Geographic Channels. From Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Ginnifer Goodwin as Jackie, Rob Lowe as Kennedy, Will Rothhaar as Oswald, and Michelle Trachtenberg as Marina Oswald.


Hiatus Highlights

“Yes, I will give to those who give of themselves, untold Joy and Bliss; and what is more, I will lead them by the hand along those petal strewn paths of Eternal Joy.” 

~Sri Sathya Sai Baba

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have severely fallen behind on my 2-3 posts a week goal here at oHo. Professional and popular bloggers will tell you the importance of sticking to your blog schedule when you first start out to build discipline and storyline, etc. It can be rough at first, with the inevitable doubts that arise. Does anyone even read this anyways? What is the point?

My absence here has less to do with those doubts and more to do with the slow takeover of my normal life. There have been doubts, yes, but there has also been part time jobs responsibilities, relationship crises, healing, and a TON of garden work. You cannot expect to have summer vegetables without back-breaking labor in spring, nor life without some stumbling blocks.

We've put in several gardens here at the house including a trellised front-yard bed, lush container gardens and a spontaneous alley garden that Ron has nicknamed "the ghetto garden" plus we've installed a full-fledged, fenced-in vegetable patch over at a friend's,  There have been so many great moments and highlights from the past several weeks that I just wasn't able to share with you all: al fresco dining, potting benches, drying herbs on our new herb rack, peonies in bloom, taco night, cupcakes and a strawberry pie surprise from my neighbor (Thanks Lyric!), thrift store treasures and the soon-to-be launching of my vintage etsy shop, The Fickle Fern.

Now, I am about to begin a two month job working as Costume Supervisor on National Geographic's Killing Kennedy. I am excited to be jumping back in to the film business and working with my friends again, but I have a feeling, from experience, that there won't be as much time for blogging. I will if I can, but chances are, by the time I am back, summer will be in full swing and I'll be super excited to document riverside picnics, grilling parties and tomato harvests.

See you all in July!


An Accidental Cinco de Mayo

You can probably tell by the lack of recent posts here that I've been pretty busy elsewhere. So busy, in fact, that I almost let a holiday slip by uncelebrated. And this on a blog whose theme is about highlighting the causes for celebration; a possible catastrophe! Okay, just kidding. I guess if you set out to make each day a high occasion, then it wouldn't be so bad missing a holiday here or there. Nonetheless, Cinco de Mayo almost came and went.

That morning I invited two friends over for cocktails and munchies, unaware of the actual date. I had an unopened bottle of Trader Joe's Bloody Mary mix in the back of my fridge just crying to be cracked and shared. Noel and I had been trying to reconnect over the last two weeks to no avail, but this time things clicked into place.

Noel is co-owner of a local pickling company, Pickled Silly. (Check 'em out; I styled and photographed the main image on their website!) Her and her business partner, Sandra, make a delicious array of fresh and crispy pickles, but it was their spicy okra that took special place at the table today; the brine was our mixer and the okra, the garnish. With over 20 years of restaurant and bar experience, my beloved Ron was our bartender of choice. He cracked pepper, sprinkled smoked salt and stirred the spirits with professional mystique, all while carrying on a conversation about the common lawn weed, oxalis. Our Bloody Mary's were made with gin instead of vodka; a pleasant change from the traditional spirit of choice.

I'm a lightweight, and while I sipped on my one, perfectly concocted cocktail all afternoon, my three compatriots knocked back their Mary's with vigor. We drank and chatted on the back deck until late in the afternoon, gnoshing on homemade pickles and honey roasted peanuts. It was an incredibly pleasant, laid back day. Glancing at the calendar in the evening and realizing it was the fifth of May just made the impromptu gathering that much more serendipitous.


Happy Montage Monday: Backyard Haven

I really love Spring, guys. It is undoubtedly my favorite season. Myriad flowers bloom everywhere. Brand new leaves pop seemingly out of nowhere on twigs and branches painting a canopy of green overhead. On certain days we get a fleeting glimpse of Summer when the weather is warm enough for sandals and hammock lounging. I press open a good book or glossy magazine and could sit for hours, bathing in the first hot sun of the year.

My backyard is a haven in Spring: rustic, wild and pure. There is almost no grass here; medicinals and weeds naturally populate the yard. I am beginning to like the un-manicured feel of this rental property. Vinca vines with blooming periwinkle hold hands with english ivy and virginia creeper (and also happen to be one of Nabby's favorite nap spots). The grape vine on the fence sends out its green tentacles and the first buds appear on the hydrangea and gardenia. There aren't any mosquitoes around the water barrel yet, and the local birds flit about searching for nest material or baby birdie food, making quite a racket each sunrise and sunset.

This photo montage is a snapshot of my dearly beloved backyard haven. May it inspire a relaxing day out-of-doors.


Let's Be Neighbors

Did you know Saturday, April 27th was National Neighbor Day? I didn't.

A chance encounter surfing the web brought this to my attention, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to thank my awesome neighbors for being, well, awesome, and the best excuse to bake something sweet.

Ron took over in the kitchen, making the scrumptious cinnamon swirl buns that were such a hit at Easter. I purchased pretty pink packaging materials and set about writing notes to each neighbor.

The card read something like...
"Happy National Neighbor Day!
Ron and I are just tickled pink to have you as our neighbor."

I delivered them one-by-one. My upstairs neighbor gave us a cool Jamaican CD in return, and my next-door neighbor, Lyric, took these great portraits of her two young girls biting into the goods. Aren't they precious?

Lyric is a fantastic portrait photographer with a knack for capturing the natural warmth and charm of children, infants and families. Check out more of her work at LyricHasslerPhotography.com.

I think I might have been under the misguided impression that this was one of those informal national holidays, like National Rubber Eraser Day (April 15) or Blah, Blah, Blah Day (April 17).  (No seriously, those are, in fact, National observance days in the month of April.) Turns out this Neighbor Day was a community-building, grassroots event partly inspired by the Boston Marathon events. (Here is the link to find out more).

The 27th of April actually shares holiday coverage with Babe Ruth, Prime Rib and something called 'Tell A Story Day'.  There might not be any more room to make this an honest-to-America holiday called National Neighbor Day. Only time will tell. Note: this should NOT to be confused with National Neighborhood Day on the third Sunday in September.

My head is spinning. I fully recommend you read the full list of bizarre National Days here.

Okay, so I inadvertently lied on the card. Big whoop. I also didn't get a chance to don my apron, as Ron did the baking, but I did have the pleasure of visiting each of my immediate neighbors to see their faces light up and enjoyed some pleasant chit-chat.

Plus, we've got leftovers! Win. Win. Win.

This was such a success, and I felt so good afterwards that I have half-a-mind to play around with that-there list of wacky holidays and come up with random acts of kindness for each month out of the year! Whose with me?

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