Monthly Archives: January 2011

Practical Holiday

We are all looking for practical, economical ways to travel these days. In the next few weeks I am going to outline ways we can accomplish this. I will start with trips within 500 miles of my hometown and then start sprawling farther as I learn things we can do this winter and spring with our daughter, with a budget. I will focus in on affordable lodging, activities, transportation and food. For the local folks, maybe this is an opportunity for you to explore your own backyard!

Let’s start with the most obvious, our backyard:


Buncombe County

Here are a few links to affordable lodging:

Sweet Peas Hostile

Explore Asheville

The Altamont

Campfire Lodgings

Tipi Camp Asheville

U.S. National Forest Campground Guide


A little Asheville lodging tip: if you decide last minute to head into Asheville you can call places like the Grove Park Inn or Biltmore for same day deals/discounts. If they have a ton of empty rooms they usually have flexibility to discount.


Asheville Transit


(if you stay downtown you can walk to all the great things the city has to offer)


Cycle Blue Ridge Parkway

(The section of the parkway at the top of Ox Creek driving North toward Craggy Gardens is closed during the winter through April usually. This is a great section to cycle/walk/run on warmer winter days or early spring. This is the safest opportunity to explore the road without having to share with vehicle!)


Dupont State Forest

Big Laurel Trail, Madison County

Downtown Asheville

(Asheville is loaded with great shops and galleries, perfect for window shopping)

Downtown Marshall, Madison County

(you can cross over the bridge in the city center, make your way down to the edge for skipping rocks, having a grassy picnic or read a book)

Pisgah National Forest

Asheville Urban Trail

Blue Ridge Parkway Trails

And the Whitewater, well, just take your pick.

Look here and here.

Even if you don’t enjoy kayaking or rafting you can find places along the river to hike or even picnic.

Take the time to look through the links and start planning your Practical Holiday. Later this week we will dive into the food, beer, farms and other misc. activities in the area. Make sure to share your secrets and ideas of fun, practical things to do.

In the meantime, enjoy the start of your week!



Sushi, anyone?

There has never been a cat
Who couldn’t calm me down
By walking slowly
Past my chair.
~Rod McKuen

The blog, Pisicissimo, is one of the fastest growing blogs on wordpress lately. I can totally see why. If this doesn’t make you smile and coo…

(Make sure to scroll through the archives to really get a sense of such a fantastic personality.)


on another note:

HAPPY FRIDAY! Wherever you are and whatever you may do I hope that your weekend is GRAND!

Balsamic Chocolate Truffle

Don’t these sound YUMMY! I think I will try to whip these up for a yummy treat to be served with a shot of Island Blend espresso. Recipe Follows…

Balsamic Chocolate Truffles


  • 8 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (recommended: Valrhona)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder


Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water. Place melted chocolate in a small bowl. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cool the chocolate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, until firm but moldable.

Use a teaspoon to scoop out chocolate. Use your fingertips to shape into balls about the size of a cherry. Set the chocolate balls on a parchment-lined tray.

Place the cocoa powder in a small shallow dish. Place 6 truffles at a time in the cocoa powder and roll the truffles around to coat, and return the coated truffles to the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining truffles. Place the truffles in a serving dish or airtight package.


Recipe and Photo courtesy of, article recognizing 10 stress busting foods. (my kind of thinking)

Pennies for Peace


This is a really special program. I feel this way for many reasons, one is that this program teaches our children to be compassionate about other peoples needs.
Yes, I finished, with great enthusiasm, “Three Cups of Tea.” It really is an incredible story told and to be read. No, I don’t have twenty thousand dollars to donate. What I can do though is tell you about it. Then maybe you will tell someone else about it and the cycle begins.
The best part is that my daughter’s school is enrolled in the pennies for peace program. We, on a regular bases, take pennies to school for her to drop in the bucket that will be donated to CAI. The encouragement to donate to pennies for peace back in August  is what inspired me to finally, really read the book. I figured I should know what exactly we were gathering pennies for.
The very short of the long is that Greg Mortenson builds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is way more complicated than that and he has some amazing adventures and trials that he endures but mostly he is truly promoting peace by helping provide education to the children in these countries. We have no idea the hardships the children in these countries have to endure themselves. This book brings light to the subject and really helped educate me, as an American, on countries we are taught so much to dislike. You should read the book. You can borrow mine!
If you have a young one or know a young one in school maybe you can encourage them to start their own pennies for peace. Have the teacher or principal read the book (if she hasn’t already! It was #1 New York Bestseller). This is a really great way to give our children a special focus. I like to think of it as the modern pen pal. I had one of those once, did you? At least the pennies can provide greater futures for these pen pals!

Blue Jean Baby…

Okay, you have to check out these adorable pictures of baby Huxley in his spiffy blue jeans. As the title of the post he is all styled out!

What’s the first thing you think of when you read the title then see this cutie-pa-tootie? Well, for me, it is Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer.” Ever since I saw this post something like two days ago I have been singing (in my head and out loud) this song! I actually happen to really like Elton John so it is nice to have a familiar song come back to mind. (And, no, we did not get to see him live while he was in town. Unfortunately.)

I thought today I would share this fun song with you too!

Clickety Click to sing along…

Original lyrics and song by the lovely Elton John.

Fat Dog

As my husband’s business trip to Taihape (Tie/hay/pee), NZ draws near its end he says his goodbyes to the Bliss-Stick NZ family and heads north towards Rotorua. Rotorua is one of our favorite spots to visit while in NZ. It has some of the best whitewater right out the backdoor and some amazing natural hot springs at the Polynesian Spa (among other spots around). One of our must do things while in Rotorua (or while in NZ period) is to head over to the FAT DOG CAFE. The website nor the menu even justify this place but the food is, actually, really delicious and the atmosphere is groovy.

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So cheers to you babe as you dine on something amazing (i’m sure) and sip on a glass of FAT CAT pinot noir.

FYI: Fat Cat Pinot Noir is a great pinot, if that is your flare. Earth Fare used to import it but have not seen it there for some time.

Winter Blues

The one thing that bugs me the most about winter are the bugs. Bring on the snow, cold, even the rain. I can handle and actually enjoy the winter season. But the colds that are associated with winter, bugger off!

We usually can get through winter without much trouble or sickness but this winter is proving to be a whole new story. Just as the little ones cough had subsided (FINALLY) and school is getting back in gear from the winter weather she wakes up with a low grade fever and ache. Not to mention the pesky cough that we had conquered.

It is so heartbreaking to watch your young one not feel well. And with my daughter, there seems to be a reaccurring theme. Last year when I was in Mexico, she got sick. My husband is still in New Zealand, she is sick. Anytime we travel, she manages to be sick (accept for an extremely successful trip to Colorado this fall). Her first two birthdays we traveled to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and both years she was teething, severely. Last year, her third birthday, she was not teething but managed to get so sick I was concerned about her appendix. That was not the case but non-the-less she was sick. I hear this is common in Cancerians, as that is her astrological sign.

The lesson, however, is to really stress in teaching her to relax, go with the flow, worry less and honor your body when it needs to rest. (Have I mentioned before that she never naps. Not regularly anyway. Never has never will.)

Today, she is doing a tremendous job honoring her needs. She has taken a morning nap, ate some hot soup, drank water and is now in her bed dozing off to the movie, Robots. All I can do is express love with hugs, kisses and a little tuck in the bed when she is ready to doze. Praise her for doing a great job at fighting off the boogers.

So, for now, we will (as my friend Ashley put it) quarantine ourselves, slurp down elder “doodle” berry and drink lots of water. I think I will also make some garlic tea this afternoon. However, convincing a 3 1/2 year old to sip garlic tea, well, lets just say I will get back to you on that one!

Have a grand weekend wherever you are!