February 29, 2008

March Specials

We've recently revamped our featured specials! Each property's special offer is listed in an easy-to-view format.

This month, our property
owners are offering:
  • An extra night free
  • Discounted rates
  • Complimentary firewood
  • Complimentary gift baskets
  • Complimentary wine or champagne

Over 40 of our properties are running specials right now!

February 28, 2008

Snow days

We have woken up to snow ('icy roads' may be more appropriate terminology) two mornings in a row in Asheville! Accumulation varied widely around town and the rest of WNC, but even seeing just a light dusting of white covering everything both mornings has been a beautiful surprise.

A big issue has been school closings, especially for those in the Asheville City school district, where sunny skies have helped clear the roads by mid-morning. Kind of makes you wish you were a kid again - even when a 'snow' day didn't mean you got to build a snowman ... it was still a day off!

Snow accumulation next to the French Broad River (West Asheville).

Photo from the Asheville Citizen-Times Web-Extras.
See today's story and more pictures from the Asheville Citizen-Times here.

February 25, 2008

Asheville Downtown Restaurants

There are so many great, diverse restaurants in downtown Asheville - there's something for everyone and it's difficult to dislike anything you try. But I've tried to narrow it down here to just a few of my very favorite spots that I frequent regularly:

Tupelo Honey Cafe - you can't go wrong with anything on the menu, and the prices are unbeatable for the quality of the fare. Plus they get most of the food straight from their own organic vegetable farm & free-range, organic meat from Warren Wilson College just down the road in Swannanoa.

Mayfel's - Authentic and tasty New Orleans cuisine. Right next door to Tupelo, and sometimes a good alternative if you don't want as long a wait (though don't be misled - like everything in this town, Mayfel's gets crowded too).

Jerusalem Garden Cafe - Great Mediterranean (Moroccan influence) food, complete with belly dancing! The hummus and baba ganouj are amazing - great place to satisfy vegetarians (and meat eaters too, of course). They can easily handle large parties with advance notice. Also known for good Sunday brunch.

As it turns out, these restaurants are all located around Pritchard Park (Patton Ave). It's a great little block for eating. Early Girl Eatery is another favorite, located behind Tupelo and Mayfel's, and can be accessed on Wall Street.

February 22, 2008

Living the Log Cabin Dream

Recently I stumbled upon a blog titled "Building a Log Cabin" - Shelley & Greg in Michigan are in the process of creating their log cabin lifestyle. The blog features updates on their progress in building the cabin, including stories, photos, and relevant information. I'm so impressed with their initiative and hard work.

They've actually been featured this week on Blogger.com and have tons of readership. The blogsite is really interesting, so check 'em out!

This is their recent updated photo:

February 21, 2008

Biltmore Village Condos

The old Biltmore Village historic hospital was recently renovated, and turned into luxury condos.

Biltmore Village was constructed in the 1890’s by Biltmore Estate owner George Vanderbilt, architect Richard Morris Hunt, and landscaper Frederick Law Olmstead. The design was intended to match the aesthetic of the Estate, though the Village was originally built for the Estate’s employees and their families. What once served as the Village hospital is now home to the Biltmore Village Condominiums.

Though the condos are owned by individual owners (several people share ownership of a unit, each receiving a number of weeks to stay there), the property also serves as luxury vacation rentals for Asheville visitors.

Carolina Mornings is listing the property for rental.

February 18, 2008

Asheville Performances Feb-Mar

Going to the theater to see a stage production is one of my favorite things to do. Luckily Asheville is known for some great performances, especially for a city of its size. Below is a small sampling of February and March events.

Each title is linked to the show and venue's web site - click to read more about the performance and to see what else the venue is offering! Diana Wortham has some particularly spectacular modern dance groups coming through, NC Stage always has the best local talent, and Thomas Wolfe Auditorium features the best traveling Broadway productions and ballet companies.

Moonlight and Magnolias

NC Stage Company; Feb 20 - Mar 10
A hilariou
s comedy.

Langston Hughes Project : "Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz"
UNC Asheville's Lipinsky Auditorium; Feb 22

MOMIX: Lunar Sea

Diana Wortham Theatre; Feb 24-26
A dance production of fantasy and spectacle.

Romeo and Juliet - St. Petersburg Ballet Theater

Thomas Wolfe Auditorium (Asheville Civic Center); Mar 1
Shakepeare's famous tale transformed into a full-length Russian classical ballet performance.

Jesus Christ Superstar
Diana Wortham Theatre; Mar 19-21
Benefit for Eblen Charities, featuring the best of local talent.

I'm sure many people are feeling the economy crunch as 2008 gets going (I know I am). But that doesn't mean we're willing to sacrifice our vacation! Especially for those nearby, Asheville can be a great destination for a really fun and affordable trip - even if just for a weekend. Cooking in a vacation home also saves a lot of money, rather than staying in an expensive hotel and having to eat out every meal.

However, it is worth spending a little extra cash to check out one of the many fantastic restaurants in Asheville... a list of the best is coming soon!

February 14, 2008

Old Blog Posts Archived

Just wanted to let everyone know that our old blogs (through October 2007) are now posted here on Blogger. Visit our old blog site for information about us and to read our archived blogs (up to October 2007) by selecting a month to view.

Blogs posted here - topics and posting dates are:

February '08
-Favorite hikes in WNC
-Asheville ranks top in happiest places
-Caring for dogs in winter

January '08
-Vacation Rental Specials

December '07
-A ghost story written by one of our property's guests

November '07
-Christmas at Biltmore Estate (with a cool-time lapse video of decorating the tree)

October '07
-Pumpkin seeds
-Halloween events
-Scenic drives to see fall colors

So check 'em out if any of these topics interest you!

More new blogs coming soon!

February 12, 2008

Welcome to Our Blog

Thanks for reading and welcome to the NEW blog for Carolina Mornings! We're really excited to be up and running on Google Blogger. Our blog will include all kinds of interesting 'tid-bit' information, but will typically be related to the happenings in Asheville and the surrounding area of Western North Carolina.

Coming soon: Archived blogs from our old site. We'll let you know when they're available so you can check them out!

February 7, 2008

Favorite Hikes in WNC

One would think that, living in Asheville with the Blue Ridge Mountains at our back door, all of us locals would be out hiking every weekend. While I can’t speak for every local, it does seem to me that the longer you live in an area the harder it is to get out and enjoy everything it has to offer. We all get bogged down in the every day life of work, dinner, chores… and before you know it, it’s time for bed. Weekends are no better, with the constant flow of housework and errands… or the desire to just sit around on your heehaw because you’ve spent all week in the daily grind.

So, while many people might be better at getting out and about, I certainly don’t manage to hike as much as I would like. Still, after 5 years living in WNC I’ve managed to find two hikes that I love so much, it has become difficult to branch out and try others. Both are easy driving distance from Asheville and are easy-moderate hiking, but they have some very distinct differences.

Hike #1
Craggy Pinnacle

360-degree view
Nice foliage on path
Good for de-stressing
Romantic date setting

This hike is located right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far from Asheville. It is short, and somewhat steep, but has beautiful trees, rhododendron, and several views along the way. Once you reach the pinnacle at the top, there’s an amazing, full 360 degree view. There are benches and other sitting spots as well to relax and enjoy the beautiful photo ops. It has always been a good pick-me-up for me when life is stressful, but it’s also one of my favorite date spots. This is a nice place to go with a picnic (small enough to pack into a day size bag, anyway). Keep in mind that the wind is almost always heavy up at the pinnacle and it can be much cooler than the starting point below.

Craggy Gardens and the Visitor’s Center are nearby spots worth stopping for if you are going to Craggy Pinnacle. Craggy Gardens is pretty, too - a good-sized grassy area, views, picnic tables and another small trail. Bathrooms are also located at this stop. This is a good place to picnic before or after a hike up to the pinnacle, especially if you don’t want to hike with your food.

Hike #2

DuPont State Forest

Three Waterfalls
Access to river and falls
Swimming/Wading in Summer
Several different trail options

This falls hike offers three - count them, THREE - waterfalls in one. Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls are located together on a easy, riverside trail (exception: to get the top of high falls is a more vigorous upward hike, away from the riverside). You can spend an entire day checking out the different trails - one of the fun things about this area is that the hike is customizable. Visitors have the option of staying on mostly flat land to see Hooker and Triple Falls, going down a steep - and sometimes slippery - trail to the bottom of High Falls, and heading upwards to the top of High Falls. Although this hike is REALLY popular and therefore always crowded, I’ve never minded. The hike is best in the fall for leaf colors, but is also super fun in the summer, when guests can wade into the river and play in the falls!

For more great WNC hikes, photos, directions, and other great information, visit Hike WNC.

February 5, 2008

Asheville is on the Map - For Happiness!

Asheville was in the news recently as one of the happiest places in the world. The distinction comes from researchers at the University of Leicester (UK), who have established the first color-coded world map of happiness. In addition, author Eric Weiner traveled the happiest places in the world for his book The Geography of Bliss, and determined that America’s happiest place is Asheville, NC!

Those of us who live in Asheville, or enjoy visiting, didn’t need the media to tell us. But this does validate what we already knew. The question is, how in the world did they measure happiness?

Measuring Happiness

As it turns out, scientists have been trying to determine the ’science of happiness’ for years. Factors leading to life satisfaction? Friendship, marriage (or life partnership), meaning in life (stemming from spirituality, religion, or philosophy), and long term goals that are fun to work towards. For more in-depth information, check out this 2006 article from Mike Rudin, BBC News series producer of “The Happiness Formula.”

Weiner’s decision to settle on Asheville for the happiest place in the US was based on our beautiful surroundings, abundance of art & culture, and sense of community.

More Reading

To read the news articles on Happy Asheville for yourself…
Has Singapore Found the Secret to Satisfaction? (see Weiner on Asheville, pg 3)
Nine Happy Places (see Weiner on Asheville, pg 10)

February 1, 2008

Caring for Dogs in Winter

-written by: KATIE

Even if your dog enjoys the occasional snowfall, owners should take special care and pay close attention during this season.

Winter is upon us in the mountains of Asheville, it is time to give our beloved dogs a little extra care and attention. Our younger canine partners can still enjoy the great outdoors with just a couple of extra things to look out for.Short haired breeds & breeds that feel the cold temperatures will appreciate an extra layer of warmth - there are some great waterproof outward bound dog coats available.

Exercise is important at this time of year. If there is snow on the ground, take care to check your pet’s paws for ice balls or injuries. Also consider rinsing your pet’s feet off, if your pet has walked where de-icing chemicals have been used. Keeping your dog’s nails short & the fur trimmed on the bottom of their pads will help prevent them from slipping on ice and from snow collecting on the bottom of their feet.

Daylight savings can cause dog walking to be a little hazardous if you are out after dark. Consider a reflective leash and collar, as well as reflective coats for you and Fido, which can make you visible to traffic.

Senior & over weight dogs feel the winter harder on their bones – cold, damp weather can aggravate arthritis. Keep them warm and away from cold drafts. Heating pads or a hot water bottle can also lend relief. Remember: if your dog is having trouble getting up or laying down, climbing the stairs, or has started to snap or cry when picked up, you should visit your veterinarian/homeopathic veterinarian for extra advice.

If, for reasons beyond your control, your dog is housed outside or spends a lot of time outside, make sure that you provide adequate shelter. The shelter should be raised off the ground to ensure your pet is protected from the wind, moisture, and cold. Take extra care to ensure that your pet is comfortable with lots of warm bedding and can get into and out of their housing easily.

One thing that can be overlooked in winter is sufficient fresh water for your dog. Check frequently to be sure the water is not frozen during this frigid time of year. Dogs that live outdoors may need additional food (calories) to sustain body temperature as well. You may want to check with your veterinarian to decide if your pet needs additional nutritional intake.

**A Note on Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) - Cats and dogs are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze, and will often sample some if left out in a container or spilled on the garage floor … however, Antifreeze is highly toxic - it is rapidly absorbed (initial signs appear approximately one hour post-ingestion), and there is a high mortality rate. Only a very small amount needs to be ingested to cause signs of intoxication.

Success of treatment is dependent upon a quick response. If you suspect that your animal has come into contact with antifreeze, immediately contact your veterinarian or pet emergency center. The ASPCA also provides information and a Poison Help Line.
A safe alternative to Ethylene Glycol antifreeze is available – Propylene Glycol. While it does cost a little more than ‘regular’ antifreeze, it is worth the piece of mind for those with beloved pets.

Thank you for taking time to read, your pet will appreciate your awareness!
Stay tuned each month for our dog series, including issues such as seasonal care and training.