Asheville Babymoon (Bacation?) Recap

I thought I’d share some pictures from our Asheville trip, which my phone autocorrected from “vacation” to “bacation” in a text that week, which I thought was an appropriate alternative to babymoon. ;)

We left Saturday after the Allee’s French Brittany field trials got to the house fairly late Saturday night.  We slept like rocks and woke up to SNOW!

Saluda, North Carolina Snow | oysters and pearls

It was just a dusting, but gosh it was pretty!  We were also in shock as to our view from the house!  Simply breath taking.

View from Saluda Mountain House, North Carolina FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

View from Saluda Mountain House, North Carolina FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

How unbelievable is that view?  We stayed in Saluda, North Carolina, and you can stay in this very house, too!  We used HomeAway.com (we aren’t being paid to say this or stay there, just thought I’d share for those interested) and this is the house listing.  It was too much house for just the two of us, but gosh it was nice!  Next time we’ll invite friends and family… or have more family ourselves! ;)

It turned out to be bitterly cold, so we didn’t get to do any hiking.  However, each day we chose a new city or town to explore.  After a leisurely breakfast at home, some reading and knitting and relaxing, we’d get dressed and head wherever we were feeling that day. Sunday we explored Hendersonville, and I forgot to take any pictures.  However, it was a REALLY cute little town and we really liked it!  We had lunch at a really great Italian restaurant called Mezzaluna.  I had pasta carbonara with homemade noodles that was delicious, and Wheat had their wood-fired pizza and it was really good too.  We hit quite a few antique stores, some local craft and art stores, and then the Bi-Lo to shop for groceries for the week.  We made spaghetti at home that night and it was really nice to cook and relax.

Monday we headed into Asheville and explored the Biltmore first.  It was AMAZING!

The Biltmore, Asheville, North Carolina FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

I still can’t believe the enormous wealth that went into building a HOME like that… and that a Bachelor in his early thirties built it for himself!  It just really floored both of us and we both really, really enjoyed it.  Also, my antique wrought iron bed, which my dad had to put plywood over the bottom to support a mattress because it has pegs for ropes on it, was most definitely one of the beds on display in the servants’ quarters.  I thought that was hilarious and pretty awesome.

After the Biltmore, we went into Asheville for lunch.  We had lunch at Early Girl in downtown Asheville, and it was THE BOMB.  Super Southern lunch – we both got chicken fried chicken with gravy, and I got collards and macaroni and cheese with mine.  It was so good I wiped everything off my plate with my amaze-balls biscuit.  After lunch we explored the frigid and hilly streets of Asheville, did more antique shopping and bought a couple small things, which included checking out the yarn shop downtown next door to Early Girl – Purl’s Yarn Emporium.  I have to say, the guy working there was EXTREMELY rude, stayed on the phone most of the time I was in the shop, never spoke to me once, and I was generally unimpressed.  Fuzzy Goat, you have spoiled me!

Then we visited The Imperial for happy hour (thanks for the recommendation, Ashley!).  I got a fancy mocktail while Wheat had a couple beers, and it was so good I almost forgot it wasn’t booze.  Almost.

Mocktail at The Imperial, Asheville, North Carolina FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

For dinner we followed our wonderful bartender’s recommendation and walked over to Limones for fancy Mexican.  Sounds random, but it was SO GOOD.  I had goat cheese quesadillas and a warm radicchio salad with apples and gorgonzola that was amazing (both appetizers) and Wheat had a short rib burrito that was probably bigger than our baby will be when born.  It was all SO good.

Chevre Quesadillas at Limones, Asheville, North Carolina FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

Tuesday we went over to Black Mountain, mainly for a little yarn tourism, as an Instagram friend (thanks @ninja.chickens!) recommended I make time to visit the Black Mountain Yarn Shop.  I wasn’t disappointed!  They were SO friendly and nice, and the shop was clean, uncluttered, and had some beautiful yarns and gorgeous samples knitted up.  I highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area!

Black Mountain Yarn Shop in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

We had some really great coffee at the Dripolator Coffeehouse, hung out at the Black Mountain Yarn Shop (I got some lovely souvenirs here, including two shawl pins for my newly finished Ceridwen Shawl!), visited an adorable pet store and picked up some homemade treats for Harold and Juin, and did more antique shopping (including one of my favorite finds of the trip – a tiny roll-top desk for baby Kirbo one day!)

We had an AWESOME lunch at FRESH and some of the best pizza I’ve maybe ever had.  The Chèvre pizza and the bruschetta were so good – I can’t recommend them enough!

FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls Bruschetta at FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls Chevre Pizza at FRESH Wood Fired Pizza in Black Mountain, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

After a bit more exploring, we headed back home and had a nice steak dinner and more relaxation (aka reading and knitting).  We joked that basically we were practicing retirement for a week.  And we liked it a lot.

Wednesday, which, unbeknownst to us, was to be our last day, we went on an adventure to find a potter Wheat’s aunt told us about.  We headed to Tryon, did a little exploring downtown, which was really cute.  Then we followed my GPS to Tyson Graham’s pottery studio… which turned out to be pretty far out in the middle of nowhere!  Wheat, per usual, was a wee bit skeptical of yet another of my seemingly nuts missions to find somebody cool… but it turned out great.  We finally made it to this quaint little shed with a faded sign.

Tyson Graham Pottery, Tryon, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

Tyson is related to some family friends of ours, too, which was pretty cool – his dad grew up in Cairo, Georgia!  Tyson grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and one of his bandmates’ parents were potters here in Tryon.  After playing at a few of their gallery openings and such, Tyson became interested in the pottery itself.  After taking some classes, he found he had a real talent and ended up eventually moving to Tryon and taking over their studio.  We did some serious shopping while we talked with Tyson and got a run-down on his methods and style.  He turns everything on a wheel and fires it in a kiln in the back of the studio.  He has some stoneware and some red clay pottery, and uses a lot of natural motifs in his designs.  We just loved his work!

Tyson Graham Pottery, Tryon, North Carolina | oysters and pearls Tyson Graham Pottery, Tryon, North Carolina | oysters and pearls Tyson Graham Pottery, Tryon, North Carolina | oysters and pearls Tyson Graham Pottery, Kiln, in Tryon, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

Wheat even admitted it was a pretty great adventure. :)  Then we headed into nearby Landrum, South Carolina and did some antique shopping.  We ended up LOVING Landrum!  The antique stores were amazing, and we had lunch at a great pub Tyson recommended, the Hare and the Hound.  Lots of architectural salvage places here and in Tryon, which we really enjoyed.  We plan to maybe build a house one day, and now we plan on making a trip back up with a uHaul when the time comes to build!

It started snowing while we were in Landrum, and got heavier as we ventured back through Tryon.  We headed back home and ate leftover pizza from FRESH for dinner, and THOUGHT we would get to go play in the snow, but the snow stopped. :(  Didn’t stop me from wearing my newly knit hat with fur pom pom though!  I guess this counts as baby Kirbo’s first snow? ;)

Natalie (and baby Kirbo!) in Saluda, NC Snow | oysters and pearls

We did explore Saluda a bit after Tryon and Landrum on Wednesday.  It’s a teensy tiny little town, but it’s adorable!  It’s got a great coffee shop, too, called The Steamy Mug.  We had lots of afternoon coffee shop stops during the week since it was so cold!  I’m currently addicted to chai lattes, in case you’re interested in my order. ;)

Coffee Shop in Saluda, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

I had also investigated yarn shops in the area ahead of our trip, and read that there was a yarn shop in Saluda, but we didn’t see it downtown.  I plugged it into my GPS app and we ventured further and further out of town and further and further up the mountain.  Turns out, Kniticality is up a mountain… with a huge knitting porch and one heck of a view! The sweet lady who owned the shop was kind and the shop had a huge selection of yarns, including quite a few local yarns.  I ended up purchasing some Goat yarn that is a fundraiser for a baatany project in North Carolina – could it have been any more perfect for me? You can even buy an already-knitted hat to support the project, in addition to purchasing the yarn from the goats, adopting a goat, adopting a Great Pyrenees guard dog, or volunteering with the project.  Directly from the website (baatany.org):

Baatany Project’s Botany Project

The past seven years of the Baatany Project has first and foremost been an attempt to restore Grassy Bald and Alder Bald on Roan’s western balds using goats as an experimental management tool. The first scientific publication from this project, with Jamey Donaldson as lead author has been published in the Southeastern Naturalist. The full article is available for download here.

Please see our SCIENCE page for full citation listing.

The mohair collected from our goats is spun into yarn by Green Mountain Spinnery. Unlike most commercial mills, they use no chemicals to bleach, moth-proof or shrink-proof their yarns, making for a very clean, “green” fiber. The yarn’s make-up is is 60% Roan Mountain Goat mohair and 40% fine wool. Natural color, no dyes added.

What a neat way to make a donation to the Goats on the Roan project AND get something nice for yourself (or someone else!)

Kniticality, Local Yarn Shop in Saluda, North Carolina | oysters and pearls View from Kniticality, Local Yarn Shop in Saluda, North Carolina | oysters and pearls

I got two skeins of the yarn, but have yet to decide what I’m going to knit with it!  Anyway, if you’re in the area, Kniticality is a wonderful yarn shop that is definitely worth getting off the beaten path for.  I love that the yarn I found there is a local treat that combines my love for goats and science (I was a wildlife ecology and conservation major in undergrad!).  It was the perfect yarn souvenir!

We had plans to head back into Asheville on Thursday – I was going to go to a yoga class at Asheville Yoga Center and we were going to meet a friend of Wheat’s from college for a drink… but Winter Storm Jonas had different plans for us.  We didn’t want to get stuck on the mountain in case anything happened with baby Kirbo… so we packed up Thursday morning and headed on home.  We were a bit bummed to head home so soon, but we were also really happy to get back home to our critters.  We continued our vacation at Camp Bristol (aka my parents’ house) for the weekend and arrived to this adorable welcome party!

French Brittany, French Brittany, and a Boykin Spaniel - At Attention  | oysters and pearls

Can’t think of a better way to end our bacation. :)

Thank you to everyone for your recommendations for our trip!  I reviewed each and every one and we tried to go to as many places as we could squeeze in!  I think we just need to go back again and do some more exploring – maybe when there is less chance of snow.

And for those of you looking to go to the Asheville area, we can’t recommend the house we stayed in enough – it would be perfect for a big group or a couple of families looking to go on vacation… or ya know, just a couple of babymooners. ;)

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls

Gimme Some Over Kale Caesar Salad Recipe

I tried this kale caesar salad recipe from Gimme Some Oven the day it hit my inbox last week, and it was so good, I just had to share!  It feels indulgent, but it’s totally not.  And the tangy lime juice totally changes the feel of this caesar salad, and the kale makes certain it’s super healthy.  I won’t provide a ton of commentary, just wanted to share this recipe with y’all.  For those of you looking to kick the new year off on a healthier foot, this is a great start!  It’s not Whole30 (and would be difficult to modify to fit the guidelines, since it’s based on dairy), but still very light and healthy.  I also added a splash of plain Kefir for extra probiotics.

Kefir is a fermented milk product (cow, goat or sheep milk) that tastes like a drinkable yogurt.  Kefir contains high levels of vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, folate, enzymes and probiotics.  Because kefir does not have a standardized nutrition content, the content values can vary based on the cows, cultures, and region where it is produced. Yet even with the range in values, kefir has superior nutrition. (via DrAxe.com)  I just really like Kefir because it’s tangy like yogurt, has huge amounts of probiotics (more than yogurt), and is easy to add into smoothies, top your yogurt or oatmeal, and more.  This salad would also be delicious with some grilled shrimp or chicken added!

Happy healthy eating!

Gimme Some Oven Kale Caesar Salad | oysters and pearls

Gimme Some Oven KALE CAESAR SALAD

This Kale Caesar Salad is made with tons of fresh kale and Romaine, and tossed with lighter lime Caesar dressing, and trust me — it’s DELICIOUS.

INGREDIENTS:

KALE CAESAR SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups croutons (*I just toasted some French bread and crumbled it afterwards, see instructions below)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 batch Lime Caesar Dressing, below
  • optional: 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes

LIME CAESAR DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons anchovy paste, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE KALE CAESAR SALAD:

  1. Add the kale, Romaine, croutons, Parmesan, dressing, and tomatoes (if using) to a large bowl.  Toss until combined.
  2. Serve immediately.

TO MAKE THE LIME CAESAR DRESSING:

  1. Add all ingredients except milk to a small mixing bowl, and whisk together until combined and smooth.  Whisk in a tablespoon of milk at a time until the dressing reaches your desired consistency.
  2. Use immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

*To make easy croutons, just drizzle a few slices of old bread with olive oil (or brush with melted butter), and sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning.  Toast them up until crispy.  Then either crumble them up with your hands, or use a knife to chop them into small pieces.

Inspired by Sweetgreen.

2016 Annual Allee French Brittany Field Trials

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Wheat and I (and Juin!) were fortunate enough to attend the Ali family’s Annual French Brittany Field Trials yet again this year.  We always have the very best time watching these little bird dogs show off their stuff, and this year was no exception.  It was a GORGEOUS cool (but not cold) day in the woods.  I mostly just have pictures of Juin, but hope to have a few more pictures to share once everyone who was there gets around to sharing them.

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin and Bobby Lee

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin and Bobby Lee

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin and my Dad, the good Doctor and designated Shooter of the day

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Bobby Lee and Dick

We are lucky enough to have multiple amazing photographers in attendance every year, and this year those ranks included none other than Dale Spartas.  He’s a good friend of Dr. Ali, and he quickly becomes a friend to anyone he meets… especially people who love the same things he does: bird dogs and hunting and the outdoors.

Dale Spartas Photography, 2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Dale Spartas, Photographer

Juin went up against Bobby Lee in the first round of the young adult dogs this year.  She’s 1.5 years old now!  Hard to believe how small and young she was at the Field Trials last year.

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin on Point

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin on Point

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin in action

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Doc and Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Doc and Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Bobby Lee, Retrieving

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin and Bobby Lee

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Doc and Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin Backing Bobby Lee

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin on Point

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin, ready to hunt

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin, on point

Juin got called back for another go at it, this time with her half-sister, Ivy, and Bobby Lee again.

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin and Ivy

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Flushed Bobwhite Quail and Juin

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Juin and Ivy

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Ivy on Point

Ivy is such a pretty girl, and she retrieves, too!  Not all French Brittanys will retrieve, and it’s considered a real bonus if they do.  Her mama, Rhonda, was proud, I know. :)

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Bobby Lee and Ivy, Retrieving

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Rhonda and Ivy, Retrieving

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Rhonda and Ivy – Puppy Love

At lunch time, we headed back to the barn for a feast and awards, but not before I snapped a few more pictures of Wheat and Juin.

2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Wheat and Juin

Wheat and Juin, 2016 Ali French Brittany Field Trials | oysters and pearls

Wheat and Juin

We are so happy to participate in these friendly field trials each year, and we have the very best time seeing everyone and watching these little dogs strut their stuff.  It’s all in good fun, but we’re awfully proud that Juin tied Ivy, her half-sis, for second best in the young adult division, and she won Second Best Overall this year!  That little pup brings so much chaos, fur, laughs and love into our little house and we are thrilled that she is such a good little bird dog, too.

Thank you SO much to Galt and Francine Allee, who host this wonderful event each January.  I’ve been coming to the field trials since I was a little girl, and it’s an event I hope to continue to attend for many, many years to come… hopefully with a little boy or girl in tow before too long!

Until Next Time - oysters and pearls