Last day housesitting in NC mountains

LOCATION: Black Mountain, North Carolina

WEATHER: Like spring! Sunny. High 60

We enjoyed the last sightings of the cardinals from our deck at our housesit..

We are sad to say goodbye to our charges – dog Abby and Maine Coon cat Kevin, who likes to sit on my lap while I’m reading. Somewhat trapped here….

Our homeowners are arriving later this afternoon. It has been a very nice 2-week assignment.

We couldn’t find any reasonably priced hotel in Asheville, probably due to the New Year’s weekend, so planned to stay overnight in Black Mountain, about 20 miles from Asheville. We said good-bye to our daughter Meredith. There was a water main breakage in the section of town where she works, Biltmore Village, and they were out of water for about 3 days. She had to deal with irate hotel customers angry that they were paying about $700/night for a hotel room, and couldn’t flush the toilet, take a shower, or eat/drink anywhere near the hotel as everything was closed. It was a mess.

We went on to Black Mountain, another cute mountain town. We went to the Ale House there, and shared a pimiento cheese brulee for dinner. Southern, with a twist!

Now we will head to the airport to Charlotte. We will fly to McAllen via Houston, arriving about 11:00 PM.

Quiet post-Christmas

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Overcast. High in 50s

Nice, quiet day – good for reading. I finally finished a biography that our book club is discussing in January. It was slow going. Then, I started and finished a great Louise Penny book. It takes place in rural Quebec, and it is fun to identify with the area.

Our dog Abby and cat Kevin watched the squirrels sneaking food out of the bird feeders…

Kevin lives a rough life–not! He sleeps a lot! He found a nice, warm place in front of the fireplace to lounge…

I did a little work on the computer – looking for housesitting assignments for spring. I applied to 2 in Seattle. We’d like to spend some time there, and our daughter Alexis wants to join us there. I also applied to one in Fredericksburg, which is in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. It would be great if we could combine an assignment there with an RV trip around Texas. We’ll see.

DINNER: Since we won’t be here too much longer, it it time to eat leftovers! I made pasta in a cream sauce (my easy method using cream cheese) along with smoked salmon, lemon juice, and capers left from Christmas dinner salad. Side was lettuce using the yogurt/vinaigrette dressing from yesterday. I use a tiny bit of horseradish and some pickle juice to give it a kick.

Merry Christmas!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Clear and mild. High about 50

We awoke to this drop-dead beautiful sunrise over the mountains…This is the view from our bedroom:

This has been a very stress-free Christmas season. We didn’t buy any gifts, and weren’t around for any parties.

But, we did hang stockings on the mantel in front of the fireplace. (Later we found that Santa had placed oranges inside!)

Our daughter worked from 7am-3pm at the hotel. I brought her back here for Christmas dinner. She told us tales about customers not demonstrating the Christmas spirit!

DINNER: We enjoyed Christmas dinner at about 4:00. Our chef daughter did the cooking. We had debated the menu for quite awhile, not wanting anything too traditional. Also – not wanting something big with lots of leftovers. So, we settled on seared scallops. Very good. Then, Brussels sprouts baked with goat cheese and bacon as a delicious side. Asparagus grilled on the grill were terrific (compliments of George). Then, the best part was a salad made with smoked salmon, capers, and a yogurt/dill vinaigrette.

Twas the Night Before Christmas….

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Perfect – wintry and sunny..

We and the animals lounged around the house this morning. Kevin, the Maine Coon cat, seemingly devies gravity in his favorite hanging-out place, perched precariously on the top of the couch…

The animals spent the morning much like this, interspersed with spurts of energy chasing each other around.

Then, George and I headed out for a short road trip to Waynesville, through the mountains, about 25 miles from here. Our Nova Scotia friends had told us about a cool brewpub there that we wanted to check out. We followed the Smoky Mountain National Byway near the National Park.

Waynesville is another delightful mountain town. The downtown is very vibrant, and the shops and sidewalks were filled with shoppers. Always so heartening to see. We stopped in at the Boojum Brewery, named after a famous boojum (like a bigfoot) who supposedly lived near here, and who liked beer.

We shared a bean burger and a cup of homemade mushroom soup, then strolled the streets of Waynesville, window-shopping.

Back home, I checked out the hot tub in the backyard. Some pervert caught a photo of me….

DINNER: Grilled steak with a side of cheesy broccoli/potato mash.

Shopping at Biltmore Village

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, NC

WEATHER: Sunny. Highs about 50

Today was a girl day. George stayed home, and I drove in to Asheville to see our daughter. After haircuts, we went to Biltmore Village. This area was built in the 1890s, as homes for the employees who staffed the next-door Biltmore Estate owned by the Vanderbilts.

Most of the buildings have been converted to shops and restaurants…

A beautiful church and park frame the neighborhood

Even the McDonald’s has the Village “look”

We had lunch at the Corner Kitchen, once a cozy home in the neighborhood

I looked up its history, and read that Obama ate here once while visiting Asheville.

Finally, I dropped our daughter Meredith off to start her evening shift at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in the Village

I did our grocery shopping for Christmas dinner – not too crazy, then came back home. George had been relaxing and enjoying Netflix all day.

DINNER: An invention….fake crab (surimi) sauteed with onions and garlic. Served with a cream sauce made of cream cheese, with sides of rice and peas.

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER: Cold, crisp and a bit of snow

We awoke to a winter wonderland….The car was covered with snow and light snow was falling all around us.

I went in to Asheville to do some shopping while George held the fort. It was much warmer, with no snow there. We are at 2200 foot elevation here, above Asheville.

In the afternoon, we drove in to Weaverville for a stop at the handy Ace Hardware, and then to check out another small brewery there.

Note the cute coasters….the ladies in the quilting shop next door make them for the brewery. What a cute town!

Back home, we watched a beautiful sunset. The mountains beyond our deck were dusted with snow…

DINNER: George grilled porkchops on the grill on the deck. Sides were broccoli and cheese with a baked potato

Lovin’ Weaverville!

LOCATION: Housesitting outside of Weaverville, near Asheville, North Carolina

WEATHER:Drab, raining, and cold (30s)

In the morning, we watched the boldly red cardinals waiting their turn for breakfast while perched on barren tree limbs. Their color really shows up with the contrast.

We went in to Weaverville to use the friendly services of the small, cozy public library. We are dealing with George’s hospital bills from Quebec, and needed to print some docments.

After a successful library visit, we checked out one of Weaverville’s tiny breweries.. Only open on Fridays and Saturdays, it is tiny but popular, probably because they make excellent beer. The owner/beer pourer told us to just keep track of what we drank and to pay up at the end.. Nice honor system!

After a little beer tasting, we walked across the street to Maggie B’s, a delightful wine shop/wine bistro/deli to taste some of their jalapeno pimiento cheese spread, a specialty, and to do a little wine tasting. Small world – the owner is the wife of our daughter’s boss! It was packed with locals, all seemingly good friends. While we were there, it started snowing lightly.

DINNER: Using the last of the rotiserrie chicken leftovers, I made a tomato-based pasta dish. At the end of the cooking, I added some fresh green beans, for crunch and for some vitamins!