Archive for March, 2008

Asheville’s Bread Festival

Yesterday I went to Greenlife Grocery, one of my favorite stores, for the Fourth Annual Asheville Artisan Bread Festival. I’ve been a bread baker for a very long time and grew up in a family of bread bakers, so being able to attend a unique festival like this is such a treat!

Asheville is an area of high creative energy and one way it’s expressed is with the culinary arts, such as bread baking. As usual, Greenlife was buzzing with activity Saturday afternoon when I got there. It was hard to find a place to park. Everyone seems to love bread!

Tables were set up in the area people ususally use as a cafe to showcase the many local bakeries. You could walk by the tables and taste samples. Much of the bread was cut into bite size pieces and some of it had toppings such as one booth that offered cheese with a thin slice of ginger. Yum!

There was every kind of loaf you can imagine. After making the rounds and sampling, I chose to go home with a loaf of 100 percent spelt made with a sourdough-type starter insetad of yeast. It’s a dark, course-textured loaf of just organic, stone-ground spelt, spelt starter, filtered water and celtic sea salt. It’s moist and chewy and simply wonderful!

Next year you’ll have to check it out! I hope you’ll stay with us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat on your visit to Asheville!

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Annual WNC Orchid Society Show in Asheville

Don’t you love orchids? There’s just something about them. A couple of years ago I went to the orchid show and was just overwhelmed with the huge variety. Huge ones and tiny ones, all colors – so unusual, not like daisies, daffodils and dandilions.

This weekend, March 29-30, the juried WNC Orchid Society Show and Sale will again be held at the N.C. Arboretum, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway about 20 minutes from Lovers’ Loop Retreat.

Besides the orchid show, there will be vendors of all kinds with specialty lighting, supplies and of course orchids for sale. If you can’t make it this year, hopefully you can next. The WNC Orchid Society meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. If you’re a real orchid fan, perhaps you could attend a meeting at the Community Action Opportunites Center in Asheville on 25 Gaston St.

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North Carolina poet laureate to read in Asheville this Sunday

Being writers and poets ourselves, we’re excited about the upcoming reading this Sunday at 2 p.m. by North Carolina poet laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer at the Asheville Art Museum downtown. It’s free, and we’ve never heard her read, so we plan to check it out. She lives in Western North Carolina, just down the road from Asheville.  

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Asheville: The Beer City of the South!

Do you like good beer? Then you’d better visit Asheville for a real treat! One of the feature stories in last Friday’s newspaper was about the fact that Asheville has become a major brewing center. We already have six breweries and two more are about to open.

When you have a cluster of small breweries near each other, they tend to really flourish, according to Julie Herz with the Brewers Association, a nonprofit brewing trade association in Boulder, CO. There are seven breweries located within walking distance of each other there. It increases the local education level and creates a destination beer community for beer lovers. Everyone benefits!

The Bruisin’ Ales beer store in downtown Asheville was recently ranked by a Rate Beer Best vote as the world’s second best beer store. They have over 650 beers from around the world. They also sell every kind of fun beer paraphernalia like hats, glasses, bottle openers, apparel, books, magazines, guides and more. What they have also become known for are their Bruise Cruise bus tours to local breweries and special beer events.

Asheville has been called “the beer city of the South” by Sean Wilson, leader of the Pop the Cap organization that promotes craft breweries across North Carolina. There are about three dozen breweries in the state. The concentration of breweries in Asheville has put it in the company of some of the other U.S. brewing cities like San Diego, Portland, OR, and Boulder, CO.

So, come to Asheville! Take a brew tour and let us know what you think. Of course, we hope you’ll stay with us at Lovers’ Loop Retreat! Email to reserve our guest suite now –

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Almost Spring in Asheville

This is that crazy time of year when you bundle up in the morning because it’s quite chilly. You may even have to scrape frost off the windshield like I did this morning. But, by late afternoon you’re in shirt sleeves – not every day, but some days.

The daffodils are out in most of the neighborhood and almost out in our yard. Crocuses are out all over the place – purple, white and golden. And now the forsythia are really beginning to show their color. The neighbors have hundreds of tulips, but they aren’t ready to bloom quite yet. Last year they were at their peak when Asheville had an April snow storm – just about an inch, but it was cold enough to throw everything into a tizzy. So, we’re in no huge hurry to have the flowers come out.

Another thing we love to see at Lovers’ Loop Retreat is the birds. We just refilled one of our bird feeders. They’re a constant source of joy as we see who’ll land and get a snack. Some of the birds prefer to go under the feeders and get the seeds that fall. Sitting on our porch the other night we watched a blue bird sitting in a tree. It just sat there for the longest time. I wonder if it was watching us?

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Asheville Playback Theatre

This would be a great thing to plan a trip around. The International Playback Theatre Network has hundreds of theatre groups around the globe. Have you heard of Playback Theatre? We have a group right here in Asheville.

Internationally, playback theatre is committed to social justice . The Asheville group is in its 13th year of using the unique playback format to present challenging issues. “Building a Community of Neighbors” is the general theme.

Each performance will have a different topic to focus on some aspect of Asheville life that makes it a special place. The special format incorporates stories from people in the audience. The stories are transformed into a performance and even improvised music. The storyteller’s story is often the story of other audience members, too. It’s a way to share our differences and similarities, to grow closer in community.

The shows usually sell out. You need to paln ahead and get there early! Tickets are available at the door for $10; seniors and student are $5 and no one is turned away for lack of funds.

Check out more info and dates on the Asheville Playback Theatre website. Let us know if you want to reserve the suite at Lovers’ Loop Retreat! You can call us at 828-296-0660 or email

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Bobby remembers her Asheville visit

Here is a message we recently received from a Lovers’ Loop Retreat guest. She was kind enough to say we could share it with you – thanks, Bobby. We certainly have enjoyed getting to know some of our guests and hearing about their adventures in Asheville!
Hi Jess & Pat…it was great to get your new blog and to know that Asheville is thriving. It has been 1 1/2 years since I was there and have very warm memories of my week long stay. The memories continue to connect me to that part of the country. They include driving the Blue Ridge Parkway with O Sister….The Women’s Bluegrass Collection blaring on the CD player of my rental car, the amazing colours of autumn, the enticing restaurants in town and most especially your welcoming hospitality.
Take good care,
Bobby Kovar
Victoria, BC

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Lovers’ Loop Retreat spring 2008 muse-letter

Happy March, one of our favorite months and a great time for musings. This month signals the start of longer days, the gradual greening of our mountains here in Asheville in Western North Carolina and the beginning of a more bustling schedule for our Lovers’ Loop Retreat guest suite. That means we meet more people from around the country, which is exciting for us.

            We’ve splashed some fun colors in bright paints around the entrance to the guest suite to coincide with nature’s colors returning: our forsythia is starting to bloom, and the azaleas and daffodils aren’t far behind. Soon the mountain we have dubbed Grandmother Mountain, visible from our backyard, will be harder to see through the trees.

            We’ve started a blog for Lovers’ Loop Retreat, and you can link to it from our Web site, The home page of the Web site sports another new feature, YouTube, a link to videos about Asheville. 

            The Asheville area gained another accolade recently, this time in the new book “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner. The book rates Asheville as one of the happiest places to live in the world. We hope you’ll visit and decide for yourself.  

            While you’re here, there is plenty to do. Spring starts the festival season in the Asheville area, and several events are new this year: Asheville WordFest 2008 will feature a diverse group of nationally-renowned poets in free readings April 24-27. Time for Our Power: Women Bringing Change to the World is a women’s empowerment conference that debuts at the University of North Carolina-Asheville on June 20-22, with Jane Fonda as keynote speaker.   

            There also are many annual activities coming up in spring and summer: Biltmore Estate’s festival of flowers in April and May, which includes thousands of tulips 10 minutes from Lovers’ Loop Retreat; several music and crafts events at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway, down the street from our guest suite; the Lake Eden Art Festival, or LEAF, in May in Black Mountain just east of Asheville; FolkMoot, an international dance festival in and around Asheville, and Bele Chere, a street festival in Asheville, both in July.

            Another addition to the list of activities is women’s roller derby. A new league, the Blue Ridge Roller Girls, based in Asheville, will open its season in a big way at the Asheville Civic Center on April 19. Derby is bold, fast and fun to watch, so check out their schedule and catch a bout.

            The Blue Ridge Parkway’s new destination center, with exhibits and a gift shop, opened this year just a few miles from our guest suite. It’s a good place to visit before you start touring the parkway.

            We hope to meet you if you’ve never visited Lovers’ Loop Retreat. If you’re a returning guest, we look forward to welcoming you again. Please distribute our newsletter to your friends. And visit our Web site, which has links to the events mentioned here and listings of many other activities. To reserve our guest suite, write us at

               See you in Asheville!

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Our Asheville Poetry Group

Yesterday our poetry group met. We’ve been hosting poetry groups for years – in Massachusets, Virginia, and now here in Asheville. We meet the first Sunday of the month at our home. We’re actually planning to start a second time eacn month, meeting on a week night to accommodate those who can’t make it on a weekend day.

Yesterday there were six of us – a great group. We sat in a circle in our living room with a cozy fire in the fireplace. Not all of us had a poem so share – it’s not required – but most did, invarious stages of completion. Everyone has a very unique style. It’s alwasy fun to hear what gets shared.

There are quite a few women who’ve come and the number varies from month to month. There are some who come quite regularly and we often have new women join us. It’s becoming a wonderful community of grassroots Asheville poets.

After our poetry, we had a potluck yesterday. We do that occasionally and it’s always fun. People bring great stuff. We enjoyed sitting and visiting together and getting to know each other better.

Maybe next month you can join us! Bring your poetry.

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Saturday Night Poetry in Asheville!

We just got home from downtown Asheville. We have a poetry group that meets at our house once a month and three of us were participating in a reading. Asheville is full of creative opportunities like this. It’s great!

Well, you’d think on a cold winter night there wouldn’t be very many people out, but not so in Asheville. Downtown was really buzzing with activity. There were lots of people walking around and the restaurants and clubs were packed – before and after the poetry reading.

It was held at the Art Council’s gallery on Biltmore Avenue. It’s a small space, but there must have been about 50 people crowded in.  We’re hoping to have more readings there in the future. Maybe you’ll be able to join us!

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