Blog :: 09-2014

Asheville Fall Foliage - Best Places to Look!

From: www.exploreasheville.com

Asheville is fortunate to have one of the most dramatic displays of fall foliage in the country. Extreme elevations, and more than 100 species of deciduous (leaf shedding) trees, give the Blue Ridge Mountains one of the longest and most vibrant leaf seasons (see what we mean with this cool 3D satellite flyover).

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Fall foliage lures many leaf peepers to the mountains to take in the stunning array of colors, but what constitutes a great fall color year, and how do experts predict peak times to see color? Scientists are beginning to unravel the mysteries of fall, and what they've discovered may surprise you.

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2014 Fall Color Forecast: Experts See Red

05a4a57748d0addc8d9100b0b640713e According to Dr. Howard S. Neufeld, professor of biology and "fall color guy" at Appalachian State University, red is often the color perceived as the one that makes for a spectacular fall season. And according to Neufeld and other experts, fans of the crimson hue may be in luck.

"Cool, clear sunny days bring on lots of photosynthesis and this makes for brilliant red colors," said Neufeld. "The beginning of the fall season will be punctuated with varying shades of red from maples, sourwoods, dogwoods, black gums and burning bush. The last splash of color will come later with scarlet and red oaks. Red really stands out, even against an already-beautiful fall landscape."

The weather over the next few weeks plays the most important role in fall's color intensity with cool nights and sunny days being the recipe for a bold season.

"For the summer as a whole, Asheville was slightly cooler than average and near average for precipitation," said Jake Crouch, climate scientist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville. "The precipitation is nothing compared to last summer when Asheville had its wettest summer on record. That makes me think we can expect a more vibrant autumn this year."

Sign Up For Updates Beginning in October, we will be speaking weekly with local fall foliage experts to report the most current locations where fall color is most prevalent in the mountains. Be sure to bookmark this page for the most current fall updates and advice on the top drives, hikes and deals each week, or sign up for color reports in your email inbox using the form to the left.

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A Blue Ridge Parkway fall colors scenic drive from Blowing Rock to Asheville offers the best fall foliage spots, great walks and the renowned craft shops of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Price Lake, Blowing Rock North Carolina

This is one of the premier fall color tours in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. Partly because there are so many things to see and do along the way, and mostly because the parkway traverses so many different elevations that there are almost always great displays of color throughout the fall foliage season. Moses Cone Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Flat Top Manor, Blowing Rock, North Carolina Start at Moses Cone Mansion just south of Blowing Rock and just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile post 293.5 for a look at the fine crafts of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, and then take a few minutes to enjoy the wonderful view of the autumn colors spread across the mountains from a rocking chair on the porch. A few miles further along this Blue Ridge Parkway scenic drive is Price Lake. At the height of fall colors, this is one of the prettiest spots in the mountains. The lakeside trail is a great choice for an easy walk 2.3 mile round trip walk with dazzling autumn colors overhead, all around and dancing reflections of the fall foliage on the surface of Price Lake. Two short walks just off of the Blue Ridge Parkway scenic drive lead to spectacular fall color views. The first is at the top of Grandfather Mountain, exit the parkway at mile post 305.1, where a short walk crosses the mile high swinging bridge to an overlook with fall foliage views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The fall colors scenic views from the middle of the mile high swinging bridge are as breathtaking as they are from the scenic overlook. If you are in the mood for hiking, this Blue Ridge Parkway fall colors scenic drive passes three great hiking areas: Grandfather Mountain, Mount Mitchell (the highest peak in the east) and Craggy Gardens with a short 20 minute hike to spectacular Craggy Pinnacle. Grandfather Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, North CarolinaAnd if you just want to enjoy the incredible autumn scenery along the Blue Ridge Parkway fall colors are seen all along the drive and from the many look offs. The parkway autumn forest boasts many colors as Maple, Oak, Sumac, Sourwood and Tulip-Poplar all contribute various shades of red, bright orange and glorious gold to the autumn color palette. Even the rocky mountain sides are resplendent with bright red Virginia Creeper. Be sure to pull off at the parkway overlooks for incredible views of waterfalls, individual trees at the height of fall color and even fall blooming flowers like Queens Ann Lace and Astor. Another stop worth making is the Historic Orchard at Altapass where you can buy many varieties of North Carolina apples, enjoy autumn activities and hear mountain music. The parkway fall views of Linville Cove Viaduct, mile post 304, and Grandfather Mountain, mile post 305.1, are sublime, and there are plenty of other parkway autumn look offs and stopping places to enjoy. The Blue Ridge Parkway fall scenic drive is often busy, with cars driving slowly along this popular scenic drive as leaf peepers enjoy the profusion of fall colors..

Best of all, Asheville, with all its fine shops and restaurants is at the end! But before you leave the Blue Ridge Parkway you may want to stop and see the acclaimed Folk Art Center and the premier craft shop of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

 

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Ways to make the most of Asheville, N.C.

1411417312003-476766285 From:www.usatoday.com By: Asheville, NC, has become the artisanal DIY center of the South, making it a premier destination for visitors to experience unique food, art, and music. And its location along the Great Smoky Mountains makes it an unbeatable destination for nature lovers, lending the perfect backdrop for experiencing the culture Asheville has to offer. Visit the Original Do-It-Yourself Family Home Biltmore-Estate Perhaps Asheville's DIY spirit comes from its original do-it-yourself family, the Vanderbilts, who built the massive Biltmore Estate. They ran Biltmore Dairy Farms and raised poultry and cattle so the estate could be self-supporting. Later on, a vineyard and winery were opened on-site, which are still functioning today.

Give yourself plenty of time to explore the grounds and magnificent gardens, before or after you visit the house itself. Then stroll through the Antler Hill Village & Winery, where you can enjoy a complimentary wine tasting.

Watch Art Being Created

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In the River Arts District you can visit various artist studios, including painting, pottery, and glassblowing. Some even have workshops you can participate in. Stop by the railroad tracks -- not as sketchy as it sounds -- to hang outside with the locals at Wedge Brewing Company, where "beer is art."

Follow Your Stomach to the WNC Cheese Trail

Western North Carolina is home to dozens of creameries, and in 2013 the WNC Cheese Trail was created so visitors could experience cheese-making up-close. Take some time to follow the self-guided cheese trail -- one of just a handful in the USA -- to area creameries.

Make sure to stop at Looking Glass Creamery in Fairview, N.C., about 30 minutes from Asheville. With its idyllic setting and charming shop and café, you'll want to spend all afternoon there. And make sure to buy a loaf of Farm & Sparrow's bread in their shop to go with the cheese. It's made with local heirloom grains and stone-ground flours that are milled onsite at their bakery and mill.

Eat Handmade Bean-to-Bar Chocolate

Local favorite French Broad Chocolates' works directly with farmers in Costa Rica, Peru, and Nicaragua to procure their beans. They then process them in their factory in Asheville, turning the beans into delicious chocolate bars, truffles, and baking chocolate. Their nearby Chocolate Lounge is always packed, offering treats like mocha stout cake, a seasonal trifle, and chocolate mousse in a relaxed environment.

Find Natural Beauty

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Take a leisurely drive along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, which is magical in any season. The 469-mile scenic road offers stunning vistas and mountain meadows, and is also home to numerous campgrounds, picnic areas, and trails.

Go Above It All

Driving too inactive? Fly among the trees on a zip-lining expedition with Navitat Canopy Adventures. Try the new Blue Ridge Experience where you'll fly 350 feet above the ground on zip-lines that stretch as long as 3,600 feet.

Buy Handmade Gifts

Charming Wall Street, a cobblestone street situated above an old city wall, is home to several artisan shops. At Paul Taylor, you can order custom, handmade leather sandals and you'll find handmade art deco-inspired jewelry at Overstrom Studio. At the new aSHEville Museum's shop you can buy arts and crafts made by women from the region and around the world.

Forage for Dinner

No Taste Like Home leads foraging expeditions around the region. You'll forage the area for mushrooms, greens, and other ingredients and learn what's edible -- as well as what actually tastes good. Take your findings home with you and cook up a feast.

Not a chef? Bring your ingredients to either Market Place or Zambra Tapas restaurants (advance reservations required) and they'll turn them into an appetizer for you, free of charge.

And if you don't feel like working for you dinner, Market Place always has seasonal and local offerings on the menu, like foraged mushroom gratin in the fall and an arugula and strawberry salad with locally made goat cheese in spring.

Hear Music Everywhere

There are several street buskers playing all manner of bluegrass, folk, and other music around downtown on any given night. If you'd rather be inside, stop by the Orange Peel for varied local and national acts like Delta Spirit, Chromeo, and Kacey Musgraves.

Rest Your Head

Charming bed and breakfast Crooked Oak Mountain Inn is just 15 minutes from downtown but you'll feel worlds away as you drive up the winding mountain road and find yourself surrounded by trees. Enjoy owners Bear and Patti's homemade breakfasts, and in the afternoon relax on the porch with a glass of wine.

If you'd rather be in the heart of the city, book a room at Haywood Park in the historic Bon Marché and Ivey's department store building, which exemplifies the tradition and glamor of years past.

Art lover? Try Hotel Indigo near the River Arts District, which features sleek design, large format murals, and modern art.

 

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Asheville Food Tree Project Nurtures Communities

From: www.mountainx.com

By:

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HEALTHY ROOTS: Since last year, Asheville GreenWorks Food Tree Project has established four orchards in local neighborhoods that have limited access to fresh, healthy food. The program plans to create 18 more plots over the next two decades. Photo by Cindy Kunst

To the undiscerning eye, the test orchard at the Buncombe County Sports Park in Candler doesn't look like much. Just several rows of mounds and sparse, scraggly bushes and trees haphazardly lining the exposed, grassy landscape.

"The conditions here are so far from ideal for an orchard," concedes Eric Bradford, volunteer and clean communities coordinator at Asheville GreenWorks. But surprisingly, he continues, plants like the shade-loving pawpaw, which ought to have died off, have thrived, while hearty species like the beech plum that were expected to do well have struggled. "We're all supposed tree experts, and we have no idea what they're doing," says Bradford.

The test plot is part of the nonprofit organization's Food Tree Project, an ambitious 20-year program developed in concert with the city of Asheville, Buncombe County and the Buncombe Fruit and Nut Club. Launched last year, the program has established four orchards so far, including the test plot; 18 more are planned. The project targets neighborhoods that lack access to fresh, healthy food; and already, these budding community assets are nourishing residents of the Shiloh community, the Asheville Terrace Apartments and the Pisgah View Apartments, where the orchard enhances the existing Peace Garden.

To foster a sense of ownership and community involvement, GreenWorks partners with residents, who decide what they want to plant and help care for the orchards.

The test orchard was created to determine which species would survive and produce under less-than-ideal conditions. The results will guide the planting going forward: pawpaws, blueberries, blackberries and mulberries, among other winners.

Most of the plants were either donated by local nurseries, such as Southeastern Native and Carolina Native, or purchased locally with grant funds.

"Asheville GreenWorks received a community recreation grant from the Parks and Recreation Department in the spring of 2013," explains Lynn Pegg of Buncombe County Parks and Recreation. Her agency, she continues, "provided the land for the orchard and has left the upkeep to Asheville GreenWorks and the Fruit and Nut Club."

As for the aesthetics, "It's hard to have some type of public appreciation of a wild space," says one Fruit and Nut Club member who declined to give his name. "People are so used to perennials and lawns that are manicured; they don't understand or appreciate it. You gotta wait five to 10 years for it to grow."

Bradford, too, counsels patience, saying, "It doesn't look like much now, but someday people will be throwing a football around the Sports Park and be able to wander down and pick an apple."

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Fun Activities that Define Asheville

Here are some of the incredible activities in Asheville that make it a great place to visit and live! These are just a few of the many things that make Asheville amazing so if you ever want to know more, please don't hesitate to call Town and Mountain Realty (828) 232-2879! We would love to be your guide!

 

From: www.charlotteobserver.com

We asked Asheville native Lan Sluder for 10 fun activities that define his hometown. He is author of "Amazing Asheville: Guide to Asheville and the Beautiful North Carolina Mountains" (Equator, $19.95).

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Sip coffee in the double-decker London bus. "It's on Biltmore Avenue, permanently parked in a lot across the street from the Aloft Hotel. Go in, buy coffee and a muffin on the lower level; there are seats there - or go up to the second level. This is one of 10 or 12 coffeehouses in the area, but it's unusual to see."

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Tube down the French Broad River and stop at Bywater for refreshments. "Bring your own tube or rent one from Asheville Adventure Rentals (www.ashevilleadventurerentals.com). Bywater ( www.bywaterbar.com) is near UNC Asheville right along the French Broad on Riverside Drive. It has bar food - burgers and that sort of stuff - and there are picnic tables outside."

BatteryParkMalaprop's Bookstore

Try the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. "Have a glass, buy or exchange used books. It's in the Grove Park Arcade. Malaprop's ( www.malaprops.com) is best for new books; try this place for used ones. BPECB ( www.batteryparkbookexchange.com) allows pets inside, and has a slogan along the lines of 'Dogs and well-behaved owners are allowed.' "

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Catch the drumming circle. "Every Friday night in Pritchard Park, on Patton Avenue about three blocks from Pack Square. Crowds hear the noise and people gather around to listen for free ( http://bit.ly/1pt60Or). There could be 15 drummers, there could be 30 or more."

Take an unusual tour. "The LaZoom tour ( www.lazoomtours.com) is like a comedy club on wheels. There are two booze tours ( www.ashevillebrewerytours.com; www.ashevillebrewscruise.com) where you go to different breweries and have a beer at each. For the Amazing Pubcycle tour ( www.amazingpubcycle.com), you get on a specially-made super-large bike that can hold 13 people. Everyone peddles and you go to different bars, brewpubs and craft breweries."

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Go to Moogfest. " Moogfest ( www.moogfest.com), April 23-27 this year, celebrates Robert Moog, who invented the synthesizer and, essentially, electronic music. He spent his later years at UNC Asheville and is buried in Asheville."

See where Fitzgerald stayed. "The Grove Park Inn ( www.groveparkinn.com) is now owned by Omni, which is making improvements and adding restaurants. You can go there and look at the suite where famed Roaring '20s author F. Scott Fitzgerald lived for a couple summers in the 1930s when he was trying to kick his drinking habit. The story is, he'd drink a case of beer a day because he didn't consider it alcohol."

 

Sample the beer district. "One of the biggest things in the last 15 years is this Beer City thing: It now has about 24 or 25 craft minibreweries in and around town - more than in Atlanta. The area called South Slope, south of Patton Avenue, between Biltmore and Ashland Avenues, has become kind of the beer district. There are six or eight there, and the whole area is coming alive: Not only with breweries, but with new restaurants. An interesting place is Ben's Tune Up ( www.benstuneup.com), which used to be a car fix-up place. There's an open air patio - and it serves Japanese fusion Southern food."

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Check out the River Arts District. "It's south of Patton Avenue and used to be an industrial area; now its a district where you can buy things at artists' studios (www.riverartsdistrict.com). Check out this great video about the River Arts District here! Just walk in and see what the artists are doing. The district has helped make Asheville a center for crafts and fine art. Wedge Brewering (www.wedgebrewing.com) is there, and New Belgium, a national brewery, is opening there in 2015. There are lots of pizza places and new restaurants. Bull & Beggar (www.the-bull-and-beggar.com) is one of many 'New Southern' restaurants - locovore produce, grass-fed beef, etc."

Hear the tunes at Shindig on the Green. "It's held most Saturday nights in summer in Pack Square Park ( www.folkheritage.org). It's free and live mountain music. Related to that is the Mountain Dancing Festival ( http://bit.ly/1fHiw8I), the oldest event of its kind in the United States. It starts 'long about sundown and is held the first weekend in August." John Bordsen

 

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Crazy Looking Home Design - Ultimate Solar Architecture

Heliodome, Solar Concept of an Ecological Habitat southern facade of the solar house Heliodome
Fixed architectural volume sculpted by the path of the sun in its annual and daily cycle, the Heliodome captures solar energy in winter and saves it in the summer. Panoramic picture of the passive solar house Heliodome, zooming on the southern facade
Panoramic picture of the passive solar house Heliodome, zooming on the southern facade Bioclimatic solar house made of wood, glass and concrete, the Heliodome is the ultimate answer to energy constraints and CO2 emissions. It provides free heating in winter and natural cooling in summer. Panoramic picture of the passive solar house Heliodome, eastern view
Panoramic picture of the passive solar house Heliodome, eastern view A new path in the search for higher energy efficiency and a practical answer to the principles and objectives of sustainable development, the Heliodome is an ultimate architecture which is modulable for multiple uses.
How does the sun sculpt the Heliodome ?The passive solar house Heliodome is a fixed architectural volume. It's position and shape are determined by the trajectory of the sun in its annual and daily cycle. The building embraces the sun's rays from sunrise to sunset, feeding on its energy and redistributing it in the form of living comfort. In this way, the Heliodome is, by its bioclimatic architecture, before all else a reconciliation of man with nature.The north face of the structure (the sloping roof) is designed by the trajectory of the sun during the winter solstice whereas during the summer solstice. the course of the sun follows the south facing glass façade.Under our latitudes :
  1. in winter, the sun describes an arc from the south-east to south-west, remaining low in the sky. The sunlight floods the interior of the building, bringing with it maximum light and heat into the Heliodome.
  2. in summer, the sun describes an arc from north-east to north-west, positioning itself very high in the sky. Solar radiation therfor scarcely enters through the glass surface into the interior, and because of this the building reamins cool.

Why the Heliodome ?

Yearly sunshine and the Heliodone Solar house

To allow us to naturally capture and store energy necessary for our well-being by intelligently optimizing the shape, orientation and construction of our homes. The energetic and thermal assesment of buildings will be crucial in the future. To make a common standard for the construction of houses self-sufficient in energy, is a goal which must be acheived. The Heliodome's bioclimatic architecture inspired by the sun's trajectories fulfills this objective. north-eastern view of the solar house Heliodome Simulations in accordance with the RT2000 have validated the theoretical model of the Heliodome so we can expect to make energy savings of between 80 and 90% compared to a conventional building. The prototype of our fixed solar house, equipped with probes and sensors, should prove the accuracy of these preliminary studies and validate in a practical way the concept of the Heliodome.

What You Need To Do To Your Home Before Fall

Written by: Jaymi Naciri

From: www.realtytimes.com

As summer fades out and the first hints of fall arrive, thoughts start to turn to boots and sweaters and parkas and snowball fights. But before we start changing out our wardrobe and preparing for snowfall, there are a few things we should do to our home.

Air leaks throughout house

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Air leaks are one of the primary sources for energy loss in a home, and energy loss means money loss. There are steps you can take to check for and eliminate them. "When checking your home windows and doors for air leaks, start with a detailed visual inspection from both the interior and exterior of your home," said Lifehacker. "On the outside you should look for areas where the old caulking has failed, revealing the gap between the window or door frame and your home's siding."

They also recommend "inspecting the threshold under each door, looking for daylight or other obvious signs of an opening that is too big and needs to be sealed shut, making sure that the weather stripping around the windows and doors is in good condition, and checking old single-paned windows for damaged glazing, which can make the home "vulnerable to expensive heat loss."

Once you've discovered the air leaks in your home, you can set about sealing them up. "More often than not, a fresh layer of exterior-grade caulking will adequately seal shut any gap or crack that is causing you problems. New weatherstripping or an adjustable threshold can help to seal shut the gaps around your home's doors."

Roof check

Summer storms caused problems in areas throughout the country, and in many cities, no roof was spared. If you have yet to have yours checked out, you may want to do so before winter comes and brings snow with it. A call to your insurance company should produce a free visit to come check its condition.

Filters

If it's been awhile, you'll want to do a check of your filters throughout the house to make sure they are clean so air can flow through them smoothly. "According to Energystar.gov, the filters on your home system likely need to be changed either once a month or once every three months, depending on the type you're using," said Allstate. "You should check the product information on the filters for the manufacturer's suggested frequency of change. Depending on where you live, the time of year, and how much you're using your AC or furnace, you may end up having to change your air filter more frequently. For instance, during a steamy summer when you're running your system constantly, you may end up having to change the filter more often than if the weather is nice and you're relying on open windows."

Smoke detectors

It's also time to change out the batteries in your smoke detectors. While you're at it, check and clean out your dryer vent at the same time, clearing any buildup of lint since this can cause a fire.

Fireplace

Now to the place where you actually want a fire in the winter. To keep it safe, you'll want to inspect this area as well. Woodburning fireplaces need to be cleaned because of the potential for buildup of soot and creosote. Gas fireplaces should also be checked for debris and to make sure the chimney structure is secure with no cracks or crumbling mortar joints.

Once you've checked off this list, your home should be in good shape to get you through another fall and winter.

 

New documentary captures Asheville busking culture

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When filmmaker and historian Erin Derham set out to make a film this summer, she started by asking herself one question.

What makes Asheville cool?

Derham, however, ended up answering another question -- a much more personal one -- during the process of creating, "Buskin' Blues," an hourlong documentary about Asheville's street performers debuting at The Orange Peel on Sept. 21.

"(Street musicians and performers are) one of the reasons I moved to Asheville and I didn't even know it," Derham said.

She learned through the course of interviewing musicians, business owners, industry professionals and other community leaders that busking "connects people back to their city."

"Buskers don't just bring tourists here," she noted. Locals walking on the sidewalk, on the way to work or pick up groceries with a "million things" in their heads, are grounded by hearing a musician perform -- even if it is just for a second, Derham said.

You become present in the moment and in the space, she said. With "Buskin' Blues," Derham aims to collect and share these moments and spaces -- and document it formally as a part of Asheville's official history.

At The Orange Peel event, some of the artists responsible for making this connection and that history will perform, including Andrew Fletcher, a jazz pianist.

He plans on performing in the lobby of The Orange Peel, making him most likely the first busker to play in the concert venue.

"What I like about playing on the streets is that you get to bring music to people who aren't expecting it," said Fletcher, who, with the help of a friend, built a custom traveling piano on wheels. "They light up with discovery."

"In Asheville, we really do have something unique in terms of street music culture ... I think that all these people who are playing on the street are doing something that is worth remembering," he added.

From: www.citizen-times.com

By: Carol Motsinger

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Buskin' Blues Event

You've seen them on the street. Now you can hear their story. Coming to The Orange Peel, September 21 at 6:00PM, The History Boutique and AMP present, "Buskin' Blues," an evening of street music, film, and visual artistry. Live performances from Asheville's top buskers and insane visual projections from Mike Todd will kick off the first official preview of Erin Derham's documentary feature, "Buskin' Blues," a movie about Asheville's urban soundtrack, and why some of the best street musicians in the world choose to live and play right here in our town. There will be food, drink, and a silent auction benefitting AMP  (Asheville Music Professionals) which focuses on providing Education, advocacy, connection and collaboration within the music community. Please join us for a one-of-a-kind event that will make you fall in love with downtown AVL all over again.

A documentary feature, Buskin' Blues, directed by Erin Derham

Music performances by: Andrew Fletcher The Resonant Rogues To All My Dear Friends Flat Pennies Chris Rodrigues

Visuals by: Mike Todd

Silent Auction benefiting AMP (Asheville Music Professionals)

From: www.theorangepeel.net

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An Asheville Luxury Home Accessible to All

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Donna Bailey, 63, and her husband David, 67, made sure when they recently built their 6,200-square-foot home in the mountains of Asheville, N.C., that it would accommodate their needs if they someday use wheelchairs or need extra assistance getting around the home.

Some homeowners are opting for accessible designs before they actually need them, with an eye to the future.

A survey released in June by the American Institute of Architects found that two-thirds of residential architects are seeing increased interest in accessible design elements such as wider hallways and fewer steps. More than half of those surveyed say there has been growing demand for exterior amenities like ramps and adapted entrances. At the same time, luxury homeowners are challenging architects and builders to create homes that are both accessible and attractive: high-end finishes that are slip-resistant; elevators and lifts integrated into cabinetry; countertops, cabinet pulls and faucet handles that are both sleek and within reach of someone who is seated.

Donna Bailey, 63, and her husband David, 67, made sure when they recently built their 6,200-square-foot home in the mountains of Asheville, N.C., that it would accommodate their needs if they someday use wheelchairs or need extra assistance getting around the home.

Every doorway in the home is 4-feet wide; the floors are hardwood, and each of the four showers in the house has a curbless design. The steps of the interior staircase are lighted to minimize the risk of falling, and the kitchen's refrigerator and dishwasher have easy-to-reach under-counter drawers. There's also extra lighting installed around the butcher block island to prevent potential injuries while working with knives.

Mrs. Bailey, a marketing professional, and Mr. Bailey, an IT specialist, knew that they might one day struggle to carry the 20 pounds of wood needed for one of their fireplaces, so they had a special butler's elevator built in to use for loading the lumber.

Mrs. Bailey said from the beginning she did her own research on accessible design and ran ideas by the architect, who weighed in on what was possible. Construction cost close to $300 a square foot, and outfitting the home for accessibility totaled 3% of the roughly $1.86 million price tag.

Leslie Piper, consumer housing specialist with real-estate listings website Realtor.com, says she has seen a clear shift in the past few years in the demand among baby boomers who want easier to manage homes. "We're moving away from the more traditional kind of compartmentalized spaces, where you have a formal living room and formal dining room," she said. "Those barriers are being broken down and we are seeing a more open living space."

However, when it comes to selling accessible properties, pointing out that it is wheelchair accessible doesn't increase the value, Ms. Piper said. The words "handicap," "disabled/disability" and "barrier free" appear in 6.5% of the nearly 3 million home listings on Realtor.com. Ms. Piper suggests that when it comes to listing terminology, using descriptions such as "wide hallways" or "open floor plan" will better attract buyers who are in the market for such homes.

For their part, the Baileys decided it was easier to design an accessible house from the start than trying to retrofit later on. When friends visit, "they are taking notes and saying that's a good idea, we need to do that, which is very flattering," said Mrs. Bailey.

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Secrets to a Thriving Fall Vegetable Garden in WNC

Start now for your best fall garden and harvest broccoli, carrots, kale, lettuces, spinach and more for your holiday feasts.

You can grow a lot around here (WNC) in fall and even into winter. Fall gardens include many wonderful vegetables like: onions, peas, cabbage, radishes, beets, rutabagas, spinach, turnips, mustard, kohlrabi, arugula, radicchio, lettuce, mache, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, and Swiss chard. Some vegetables reputedly taste even better when grown in the fall, and collards and kale are said to be sweeter following the first frost. Garlic is planted in Oct./Nov. for harvest the following summer.

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Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Fall:

  • Check germination and days to harvest time on the seed packets so you know when to expect plants to become ready for harvest. As an example, radishes are quick producing plants so you can expect them to be ready within 25 to 30 days. It does depend on the type of radish you are planting so you would want to check the back of your seed packet.
  • Use good soil in your beds. Soil plays an important part in the success of your garden. Low quality soil has a poor concentration of pH balance and will eventually kill your plants. It may not happen this year but eventually the pH balance will be so poor that the plants won't be able to survive. You can purchase specialty soil made for home vegetable gardening from most nurseries but it isn't difficult to mix your own soil at home.  You can even ask a nursery worker what they suggest for mixing. Typically you'll do equal parts of fertilizer to soil and add in things like mulch, perlite, vermiculate, sand or shell materials.
  • Fertilize your crop using a product that is safe for vegetables such as chicken manure, miracle grow or homemade fertilizer. Fertilizing needs vary by the type of plant so check the back of your seed packet for fertilizing suggestions.

 

The secret to having a successful fall vegetable garden is to have a well thought out plan. You must use the summer season to carry over plants into the fall months, replace plants that you pull up and add fall crops to your beds for a continuous supply of produce.

Many vegetables are well adapted to planting in the summer for fall harvest. Planting a fall garden will extend the gardening season so you can continue to harvest fresh produce after earlier crops have finished. The fall harvest can be extended even further by providing protection from early frosts or by planting in cold frames or hotbeds.

Many cool-season vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, produce their best flavor and quality when they mature during cool weather. In North Carolina, the spring temperatures often heat up quickly. Vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, tend to bolt or develop bitter flavor when they mature during hot summer weather.

Growing a productive fall vegetable garden requires thoughtful planning and good cultural practices. July and August are the main planting times for the fall garden. Table 1 provides recommended planting dates. Vegetables that have a 60 to 80 day maturity cycle should be planted around August 1 in the piedmont. Planting of quick maturing vegetables, such as turnips and leafy greens, can be delayed until September. Keep in mind that the planting dates can be as much as 7 to 10 days earlier in western North Carolina and 7 to 10 days later in the eastern North Carolina. Be sure to adjust the planting dates for your specific location. For a more accurate planting schedule, consult Figure 1 to determine the average date of the first killing frost in the fall. Count backwards from the frost date, using the number of days to maturity to determine the best time to plant in your area.

 

Preparing the Site

Before preparing the soil for a fall garden, you must decide what to do with the remains of the spring garden. In most cases, the decision is not difficult because the cool-season crops have already matured and the warm-season vegetables are beginning to look ragged. Remove the previous crop residue and any weed growth. Prepare the soil by tilling or spading to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches.

If the spring crops were heavily fertilized, you may not need to make an initial pre-plant fertilization. Otherwise, 1 to 2 lb of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 may be applied per 100 ft2 of bed space. Thoroughly incorporate the fertilizer.

Fall Vegetable Gardening: Autumn's mild temperatures create perfect growing conditions for cool-season crops such as lettuce and spinach. | BHG.com

Planting the Fall Garden

Direct seeding (planting seeds rather than using transplants) for crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and collards is often used in the fall. However, the success of this planting method depends on having adequate moisture available to keep the young seedlings actively growing after germination. If you do not have an irrigation source available, you would be wise to buy vegetable transplants from a local garden center.

Seeds should be planted deeper in the fall because the moisture level is lower in the soil and the surface temperature is higher. In many cases, the planting depth may be 1 1/2 to 2 times as deep as for spring planting of the same crop.

Our summers can be hot and dry. Soils may form a hard crust over the seeds which can interfere with seed germination, particularly in heavy clay soil. Seeds of lettuce and spinach will not germinate if the soil temperature exceed 85 oF. You may need to cover the seeded area with burlap cloth, newspapers, or boards to keep the soil cool and moist. Shading the soil or using a light mulch over the seed row will help keep the temperatures more favorable for germination. The shading material must be removed as soon as the seeds begin to germinate. Another useful technique is to open a furrow, seed, and cover the seeds with potting soil or vermuclite. Young transplants may also benefit from light shading for the first few days after transplanting.

Watering/Fertilizing

Most vegetables require 1 inch of water per week. It's best to make a single watering that penetrates deeply rather than frequent shallow applications. Young seedlings and germinating seeds may need more frequent, light waterings. Do not allow seedlings to dry out excessively. New transplants may also benefit from frequent light waterings until they develop new roots.

Many fall maturing vegetables benefit from sidedressing with nitrogen just as do spring maturing vegetables. Most leafy vegetables will benefit from an application of nitrogen three and six weeks after planting.

Insects and Diseases

It is not uncommon for insects and diseases to be more abundant in the fall. Most problems from insects and diseases result from a buildup in their populations during the spring and summer. There is hope of keeping these pests at tolerable levels, however, if a few strategies are followed. Strive to keep fall vegetables healthy and actively growing; healthy plants are less susceptible to insects and diseases. Check the plants frequently for insect and disease damage. When sufficient damage is detected, use an approved pesticide. You may decide not to grow vegetables, such as squash, corn, and cucumbers, that are specially insect and disease prone during late summer and fall.

Frost Protection

You can extend the season of tender vegetables by protecting them through the first early frost. In North Carolina, we often enjoy several weeks of good growing conditions after the first frost. Cover growing beds or rows with burlap or a floating row cover supported by stakes or wire to keep the material from directly touching the plants. Individual plants can be protected by using milk jugs, paper caps, or water-holding walls.

Most of the semi-hardy and hardy vegetables will require little or no frost protection. Semi-hardy vegetables should be harvested before a heavy freeze. Root crops such as carrots and radishes should be harvested or mulched heavily before a hard freeze. The harvest of mulched root crops can often be extended will into the winter. During mild winters, harvest may continue till spring.

Planning a Fall Vegetable Garden: Vegetables to Grow in a Fall Garden with planting dates by area | gardening.about.com

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A couple of extra tips:

According to the N.C. Landscape and Nursery Association fall is the best season for landscaping and tree/shrubs planting. Remember to water new plantings throughout the fall and during the dry periods of winter.

Construct a compost bin and begin preparations to manage fallen leaves. Homemade leaf compost is like "black gold" for enriching garden soil, and mulching flower beds with compost helps conserve moisture.

Some Options:

 

Arugula

This leaf lettuce has a peppery flavor and is a great addition to salads and sandwiches. It can also be used as a tasty garnish for all kinds of food, hot or cold. Other greens like Swiss chard also do well in fall gardens.

Spinach

Spinach is one of the hardiest fall vegetables, and can grow into the early winter. When freezing weather arrives, stop picking leaves and protect with a plastic tunnel unless it will have a blanket of snow for most of the season. It will often survive the winter and begin producing new leaves first thing in the spring.

Mustard greens

Considered a health "super food," mustard greens are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and iron. They have a mild mustard flavor and are a great addition to salads. Mustard greens are also used in many recipes.

Turnips

Turnips are delicious right out of the garden, cut into slices. They can also be cut into chunks and added to pot roast or a pan of roasted vegetables.

Radishes

Radishes come in many colors, sizes, and shapes, but they're all fun to grow and well suited to fall gardens, since they're often ready to harvest in less than a month. These spicy veggies are also good candidates for container gardening.

Broccoli

Broccoli is packed with nutrients and easy to grow. Its frost tolerance makes it perfect for fall gardens. After harvesting the broccoli itself, leave the leaves on the plant. This often results in sideshoots, which provide a second or third crop.

Carrots

Carrots are perfect for fall gardens because they get sweeter as the temperature cools. Pile mulch over them to prevent freezing, and you can harvest them into early winter.

Cauliflower

How to Grow Cauliflower in Containers

Like carrots, cauliflower also gets sweeter as the temperatures drop. Look for a new variety of purple cauliflower, which doesn't require blanching like most white varieties. Harvest the bunches of cauliflower before the buds start to open.

And so much more...have fun with it!

Is Real Estate Still a Good Investment?

Is real estate still a good investment? The last decade has seen a drastic change in the nation (and world) real estate market.

Off Grid Farm

S&P/CASE-SHILLER U.S. NATIONAL HOME PRICE INDEX

If we take the average over the past 27 years according to the chart above, we are looking at about a 260% increase in home value. Though this isn't exactly how home values are determined, it still gives one a good idea of investment potential of real estate. It's OK.

The road to riches is not fast. And if you're like me, it's not just about the investment potential, it's about being happy, not worrying so much about short term downs in the market, or even huge losses in short periods of time.

Is real estate still a good investment. Of course it is! This is not about investing, it's about what you get for your money. If you were looking at this from a strictly monetary point of view, then yes, investing in an index fund which simple diversifies your investment capital into many stocks and spread out your risk with the knowledge and "best guess" that the market will most likely rise over time. As long as you leave the money alone and let it work for you, it will return great dividends and capital gains.

However when you're talking about real estate in terms of intrinsic value, and what you gain from it as a family, the value is incalculable. If you bought a house in 1987 and lived in it for 27 years, and decided it was time to sell it and move into something smaller (now that your kids are raised and out of the house), you'd be sitting on a hefty little nest egg. Not only that, you got 27 years worth of use out of your home.

Barn on a farm

Your kids had a place to live and grow, a roof over their heads, and you now can reap the rewards of a life well spent and a wise investment decision.

It's not just about the money, it's about the intrinsic value you get from it over time.

So yes, overall, real estate is a great investment.

From: www.offgridworld.com

Another Opinion:

Real estate is a great investment option. It can generate an ongoing income source. It can also rise in value overtime and prove a good investment in the cash value of the home or land that you buy. You may use it as a part of your overall strategy to begin building wealth. However, you need to be sure that you are ready to begin investing in real estate.

From: www.moneyfor20s.about.com

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