You don’t have to leave the mountains to feel like you’re getting away.

Read on for VERVE’s roundup of intoxicating hideaways and tucked-away
spots that only locals and insiders know.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 10:58PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Growth Spurt

by Jess McCuan . photo by Brent Fleury

You’ve seen their signs in the windows. And perhaps their T-shirts around town. So what’s up with Asheville Grown? In short, it’s Asheville’s sexiest "buy local" campaign yet. Of course, there’s a serious principle behind any such effort: buying from local independent shops means more money for everyone. Even a slight shift away from big-box stores can make a huge difference in businesses’ bottom lines. A January survey by the nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that, in cities with "buy local" campaigns, retailers saw an increase of three percent in holiday sales, compared to only one percent in cities without campaigns. "If inflation is 2.7%, that’s the difference between sink or swim," says Franzi Charen, co-owner of Hip Replacements, a vintage clothing shop on Lexington Avenue. She and other business owners formed Asheville Grown Business Alliance late last year, wearing their shirts every Saturday in December.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 10:51PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments2 Comments | References10 References

Bloody Good Fun

by Joanne O'Sullivan  .  photos by Matt Rose

Rugby has been called a gentleman’s sport played by hooligans. Morgan Rawls is neither gentleman nor hooligan, but the captain of the new Asheville women’s rugby team does acknowledge rugby’s reputation as a blood sport. Women who let that stop them from giving it a try, she says, are really missing out. Sure it’s aggressive, but it’s really fun. And in eight years of playing, she’s only gotten one concussion.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 10:16PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments2 Comments

Trading Places

by Jess McCuan  .  photos by Matt Rose 

You couldn’t find two women more different than Karen Clerici and Forrest Hogestad. Or so you’d think when you first meet them. Clerici, 45, has both a finance degree and an MBA, and she spent 18 years creating and marketing investment products for the global financial services firm Transamerica. If anyone was a corporate career woman, it was Clerici. As an executive VP at Transamerica, her style, she says,  was "100 percent power suits." Now, she’s a financial advisor at Webb Investment Services in

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:58PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References8 References


by Taryn Strauss  .  photos by Brent Fleury

Welcome to Asheville, Beer City, USA, where even the gas stations offer microbrews. There are ten—count ‘em, ten—breweries in Asheville alone and close to 50 in Western North Carolina. So what’s a gal to do with so much beer around? Why, join in the fun and brew her own. Home brewing beer is part art, part science and trendier than ever. It’s also easy to find supplies, with equipment and ingredients at longtime shops like Asheville Brewers Supply on Merrimon Avenue and now at West Asheville’s Hops & Vines.

Home brewing isn’t expensive. In fact, it might save you money, depending on your beer consumption. According to the Asheville women we interviewed, all it takes is malt, yeast and a handful of hops. Oh yes, and a little curiosity and a whole lot of patience.

Most home brewers can recall the moment they swooned over a beer and were hooked forever. Take Melissa Atallah, a 34-year-old engineer and self described "guys’ girl." At a party in fall 2008, she recalls drinking a light, fruity wheat beer called Gumballhead from a small Indiana brewery, 3 Floyd’s. "I tasted it and wow, there was grapefruit bursting through, and I was in love," she says. So she decided to make some. No small task. She learned the grapefruity flavor comes not from grapefruit, but from a type of hops called Amarillo. She found some at a website called Rebel Brewer, and now she brews up a Gumballhead look-alike regularly.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:53PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Hipster Homesteader

by Shannon Donnelly . photos by Naomi Johnson

Who knew homesteading could be so hip? Just take one look at Ashley English’s new books—or her 12-acre organic farm in Candler—and you’ll see immediately why women in their 20s and 30s have taken up old-fashioned activities like canning, knitting and raising chickens. First, there was the general shift in the marketplace toward homegrown and organic products. Then came the rise of the DIY project, particularly among the young and trendy, as seen in magazines like Make and ReadyMade. Then, along came some economic turmoil, and—voila!—women around the country seemed newly interested in retro skills and getting back to nostalgically simple ways of life. "It’s the zeitgeist right now," says English, who’s 33 and moved from Asheville to Candler three years ago. "But it’s not a trend. It’s a lifestyle change."

It’s certainly a lifestyle change for English, who moved to Washington, D.C., in the late ‘90s and intended to become a fashion designer. When she realized the fashion dream was fading, she moved back to Asheville, where she has plenty of ties. Her mother and grandmother live in Burnsville, and she went to UNCA for undergrad. To pay the bills, English, who has degrees in holistic nutrition and sociology, took several jobs in the food business and then became a medical assistant.

In 2008, she got lucky. Her friend Nicole McConville, an editor at Asheville’s Lark Books, had an idea for a book series called Homemade Living—how-to manuals on subjects like canning, home dairy and beekeeping. Would English be interested in writing them? At the time, English had no professional writing experience, but she had started blogging about life in the country with her husband Glenn, an art consultant.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:50PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Out of Africa

an essay by Marilyn Ball

We were on a mission to find Zero, the King of the Jungle. Our guide and tracker at Shiduli, a private game reserve fringing the Karongwe Game Reserve outside Tzaneen, South Africa, assured us his trail was getting closer and he would soon appear.

I was traveling with my daughter Jessica and her husband Jason, a Chinese South African man from Johannesburg whom she met in Weaverville. His parents and many of his family and friends had traveled to Asheville for their wedding, and now it was our turn to visit them.

After a few days catching up from the long flight, we embarked on our road trip into the bush—the first of our safaris into the African wilderness. The bush was lush from an abundance of rain. The temperature hovered around 90 degrees. Racing along dirt trails no wider than the Land Rover, we encountered a mother rhinoceros and her baby, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, water buffalos, zebras and two female lions no more than a foot away, lying peacefully in the sand along the road.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:47PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References

Oh, Baby!

by Janet Hurley

Crankypants. Pumpkin Doodle. KidBean. Fun names for some seriously successful, mama-owned businesses born out of love for children and nurtured with earth-friendly ideals. Recession? What recession? These five web-based Asheville companies have seen their revenues grow—in some cases, skyrocket—in the last few years. Especially when they’re selling eco-friendly items like organic-cotton diapers and bamboo pajamas.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:37PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments2 Comments | References6 References

All Things Cokie

by Jess McCuan

No one knows Washington better than Cokie Roberts. She’s covered politics for more than 40 years, first for NPR and then for ABC News, where she was co-host, with Sam Donaldson, of the interview program This Week. Now, in addition to her political commentary on ABC and on NPR’s All Things Considered, the three-time Emmy winner is writing books. Three have focused on women’s history and women in American politics, and she’s hard at work on another. Shockingly, she claims to be a slow reader. “It’s a terrible handicap,” she says. “I have to do an enormous amount of reading to get anywhere.”

Roberts will be the keynote speaker at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s sixth annual Power of the Purse Luncheon on May 24.

Do you read blogs? I don’t read blogs. There’s not enough time in the day. Blogs are completely derivative. Very few blogs are original reporting. It’s somebody’s views of what somebody else has reported.

Are Twitter and Facebook good for journalism? I don’t have a Facebook account, and I certainly don’t Twitter. But I don’t have any objection to them…Generally, my view of Twittering is that it’s rude. Especially when people who should be listening to a speaker are sending out Tweets.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:32PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Suspended Animation

by Linda Ray . photos by Brent Fleury

At night, it’s not unusual to find Anna Holbrook dangling perilously 20 feet in the air from a thin piece of colored silk. But by day, her feet are planted firmly on the ground.

You’ve probably seen the 29-year-old Ashevillean, a member of the aerial dance performance group The Libravado Sisters, at arts festivals, fundraisers and downtown clubs like Scandals. "Anywhere that has high ceilings," she says. But what you probably didn’t know is that the tall slender blonde teaches children with learning disabilities at Woodfin Elementary School and has a daughter, Maylee, who’s five. Holbrook is getting her master’s degree in special education at Western Carolina University, attending school full time between dance and teaching gigs. "I have to keep moving," says Holbrook, who’s spent time in Mexico doing fire-spinning shows. "I get bored easily."

About a year ago, Holbrook and two other aerialists created The Libravado Sisters, an imaginary Russian family. Libravado is a combination of the Latin word for balance, "libra," and "bravado," which means bravery. Now that one of the "sisters," chiropractor Renee Graziano, has left the group, the group consists of Holbrook, whose stage name is Annabella, and SamiTe Lev (Zamitenova), and their rigger, Forrest Kelly (Ushba). Kelly, a professional tree climber, occasionally stands in for performances.

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Posted on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 09:27PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References
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