Finding Inspiration… and Vintage Enamelware

I found these mid-century enamelware pans at one of my most favorite stores the other day and had to have them. My mother set the table and cooked on our stove top with these exact style of pans my entire childhood. And thanks to my generous parents who picked up the tab (gotta love shopping with your mom and dad!) I now get to set my own table for my own family with these.

I am no Julia Child, but much like well-packaged cleaning products inspire me to clean, and a brand new pair of lululemon yoga pants inspire me to exercise more, these have inspired me to get back into kitchen for more than a microwave moment.

enamelware

Speaking of inspiration, a special thank you to Serendipity for putting the amazing Angie Mizzell in my path last week. Just what I needed to get back into blogging. So great to finally meet you, Angie!

WNC Chefs Challenge: A Hoppin’ Good Time

I couldn’t resist the beer pun, as local beer was the secret ingredient last night for Chefs Brian Ross of Dough and Michael Marshall of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Resort. The teams had their pick from the local beers on tap at Chestnut to not only incorporate but celebrate in their dishes.

Photos taken by Camilla Calnan Photography:

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While beer is undeniably a “fun” ingredient, I also recognize it as a challenging one,  which made it all the more impressive that the chefs were able to so thoughtfully utilized it in each dish. Both chefs used Asheville Brewing Co‘s Rocket Girl IPA. Chef Marshall made a sauce with it for his lump crab starter and Chef Ross used it to steam his mussels in what turned out to be the number one dish of the evening. Other beers on the menu included Foothills People’s Porter, French Broad‘s IPA and Wee Heavier, Pisgah Pale Ale and Pisgah Stout (used by both teams in their desserts).

The mussels (Dough), chocolate cake with ice cream and caramel (Dough) and beef tenderloin (Harrah’s), were all favorites at our table, and also happened to be the top dishes of the night respectively. I was especially impressed with Dough for using beer in each element of their dessert: Pisgah Stout Chocolate Cake with Foothills People’s Porter Ice Cream and Wee Heavier Caramel. It was a true and sweet celebration of local beer.

Both chefs had an excellent showing, and true to the pattern of past challenges this year, it was a very close competition. The audience was split 50/50 and the judges’ were 52/48 in favor of Chef Ross for a total score of 51/49 with team Dough as the winner.

The menu:

Jumbo Lump Crab and Potato Napoleon with Cucumber Almond Salad and Rocket Girl IPA Sauce (Harrah’s)

Salmon Confit, Pisgah Pale Ale Crab Fritter, French Broad IPA Vinaigrette (Dough)

Rocket Girl Steamed Mussels with Chicken Sausage, Ginger Orange Nage, Parisian Gnocchi (Dough)

People’s Porter Smoked Beef Tenderloin with Parsnip, Gouda Grits and People’s Porter Reduction (Harrah’s)

Pisgah Stout Sweet Potato-Chocolate Pancake with Coconut and Candied Bacon (Harrah’s)

Pisgah Stout Chocolate Cake with People’s Porter Ice Cream and Wee Heavier Caramel (Dough)

Congrats to both teams! It was a fun, festive night!

Next week: The Quarterfinals begin with Chef Daniel Wright and Tomato Jam Cafe vs. Chef Dan Moore and DoubleTree Catering. Get your tix here: http://bit.ly/Ye99Ev.

 

 

Bicycles, Birds and Mustaches.

I’m not all that into cycling, have a healthy fear of anything winged and firmly believe that Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds and Ron Swanson are the only three people who can pull off a ‘stache (and one of those is fictional). But for some reason, I’m obsessed with things (mugs, stationary, clothing) with bikes, birds and mustaches on them.

I already have a pair like these, but I want this set:

mustache mugs

 

I have a strict policy of not wearing white before or after Labor Day (I’m a grass stain waiting to happen). First fashion rule: Know thyself. But I still had to stop and admire these when I saw them the other day in one of my favorite local stores:

Paige Denim Cycle Print Pants

 

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein wrote Portlandia’s “Put a Bird on It” sketch for me. I’m sad this sweater coat from Anthropologie is no longer available, but my savings are breathing a sigh of relief.

anthro bird sweater coat

 

Do you have an ironic fashion obsession, or is it just me?

Preloved Love.

I have been coveting this cardigan for a couple of years now. Gone are the days of spending a car payment on an article of clothing. Arguably those days never should’ve existed, but there’s nothing like a well-made garment. Canadian company Preloved creates their clothing from vintage fabrics. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and tailored to a “T”.

One of my favorite Asheville boutiques had an online sale last week and lo and behold:

journey-sweater-fall-fair-isle-medium

 

A Preloved sweater in my size and 50% off! If you missed their one-day online sale, but have also fallen prey to Preloved’s allure, they are having their own 50% off sale right now.

Classing Up the Joint: New Entryway “Bench”

We’ve been scouting Craigslist for months for a reasonably priced church pew (my friend has one in her front room and I LOVE it). But then I found these theatre seats at The ScreenDoor for a steal and couldn’t resist. They make such a fun alternative to the typical bench. Well, okay, they are technically stadium seats, but calling them theatre seats makes us sound more like patrons of the arts and less like people who own a giant foam finger.

entry hall theatre chairs

Sweet Migraine Remedy

I have migraines on the brain today… quite literally. My friend Aleigh told me that she heard on The People’s Pharmacy that drinking an ice-cold milkshake to try to induce brain freeze can cut through and lessen migraine pain. I can’t think of a better reason to hop in the car and head to The Hop… if I could drive right now. Or make this amazing strawberry balsamic milkshake from The Kitchen is My Playground… if I could stand the sound of blender right now.

milkshake
Strawberry balsamic milkshake from The Kitchen is My Playground.

Lindsey Loving: Mustache Mug

I am not a fan of mustaches on men (Tom Selleck being the exception to the rule), but I love the lip foliage on my new mugs!

I bought a pair of these at my new favorite downtown Asheville store, Garage 34. Everything in their store is either handmade, local, and many are both! It’s like walking through the best pages of Etsy (many of the artists and designers have Etsy stores).

Dave took one look at them and said, “So our mugs can have mustaches but I can’t?”

Yup. Pretty much.

 

An Enchanting Garden

I was on my morning walk in West Asheville today. I had time to kill as the store I needed to go to didn’t open ’til 11 (many retailers here don’t open ’til 11). I was taking pictures of homes, front porches and outdoor decor details that struck my fancy (more on that later), when I saw this:

The hole looks like a heart to you, too, right?

Then, as I rounded the corner, I found an entrance to a garden on the same property. There wasn’t a gate, just a pathway… so I walked in. It was magical — a repurposed rabbit hole. I was sure a stack of playing cards were going to march through the bushes at any moment holding brushes, dripping with red paint.

Click on any image for a closer look:

When the record store finally opened, I asked the woman working as she rang me up about the garden. She told me that all she knew was that it was owned and maintained by a man and that it was private property, but that he welcomed others to enjoy it during the day. How nice! Amazing though that it’s so easily concealed from the street that one could have lived a mile away from here for an entire year, not even aware that it existed. Mere conjecture, of course:)

I Spy: The Morning Walk Edition

I was inspired by a poetic Facebook post my friend Ann wrote the other week about her morning walk. She simply stated what she saw, but there was something about it. Apparently, I’m not the only one who noticed, because another friend of hers caught on and added what she saw on her morning walk. Well, I finally got around to taking a walk myself this morning in North Asheville before picking up Jed from school, and have my own to share. It’s a really fun game! Thanks for the idea, Ann:)

On my walk this morning, I saw:

Two girls sitting in improvised thrones in their front yard,

A runner with the coolest pair of purple Nikes that would even entice me to try running again,

A house painted a shade of orange that made me happy just looking at it,

A beautiful bush of blooming blue hydrangeas,

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A clever way to display a house number,

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And, I don’t know my flowers as well as I’d like, but what I think are a bunch of wildflowers. I love the red and blue/purple color contrast!

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I was also accosted by a guy who shoved a piece of paper in my face, begging me to help him win a contest. And every person I passed smiled and waved and/or said hello (creepy contest dude excluded, although he did talk to me). I love Asheville.

Take a walk and tell me what you see!

Journaling: A Chronic Headache Chronicle

I’ve been blogging on and off since my early 20s, but haven’t journaled (with actual pen and paper) in years. Well, my migraines are slowly taking over my life and I’m finally taking my doctor’s advice and keeping a headache journal. This doesn’t mean merely marking days on the calendar when I get headaches. This also entails writing down what I eat and drink, exercise, the weather, sleep habits, stressors… basically anything that could have triggered the headache. So, short of talking about the boy I “like like” and which color hair scrunchie I’m wearing, it’s a lot like my junior high journal.

Nature Journal, $10, ecojot.com. I bought mine locally at Nest Organics in Asheville, NC.

I decided to make it as fun as possible and bought a pretty journal to jot down all of these mundane details. I thoroughly believe that any unpleasant task can be made more palatable with the proper (read: pretty and thoughtfully designed) gear. For every notebook sold, ecojot donates a workbook or pencil to a child in need.

Help a child in need, help figure out my migraines. Win, win!