Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dillsboro Festival of Lights, Western NC, near Asheville NC

Lots to do in and near Asheville NC for the holiday season and Dillsboro Festival of Lights, located about 45 minutes west of Asheville, will be hosting it's 28th year of this very classic and lovable event.  The Festival of Lights is genuine small town stuff, with more than 2,500 lit candles in white bags lining the streets of Dillsboro, emulating the Scandanavian custom of lighting the way for the Christ child.  

Mark your calendar and head to Western NC to enjoy this luminary delight held annually the first two weekends in December, in quaint and cozy Dillsboro -  December 2-3 and 9-10, 2011. Carolers fill the streets, musicians stroll through town playing Christmas favorites and Santa visits with children at Town Hall.  Horse and buggy rides are also available each evening (cost plus tip).  Definitely a journey back in time and a classic not to be missed; call 800 962-1911 for more information.  

Dillsboro is located in the Smoky Mountains of Western NC at the intersection of Hwys 19/74 and 441 about 45 minutes west of Asheville.

Stay nearby with us in Asheville NC, at Oakland Cottage B&B, an Asheville Bed and Breakfast - we have wonderful family friendly Suites and Rooms as well as Asheville Vacation Rentals and Asheville Cabin Rentals in various locations in the Mountains of Western NC - all within 10 miles of downtown Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Asheville is a great location to base out of for your mountain vacation.  See you this holiday!  Call 828 994 2627 for reservations and more information.

National Gingerbread House Competition, Historic Grove Park Inn, Asheville NC

Teen Category - First Prize

Enjoy viewing the entries of the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC this Holiday season. 2011 marks the 19th year for this delightful annual contest.  Viewing is from November 16, 2011 to January 1 2012 throughout the halls and lobbies of the Grove Park Inn and is free to visitors and resort guests alike.  Community days are Sunday through Thursday and Resort Guests may view the display at anytime.  The gingerbread display and amazing holiday decorations throughout the halls and grand lobby are sure to get you in the mood for the Christmas Season!

Sunday afternoons from 1-3 pm, current and past winners share their stories; and allow the opportunity to meet and mingle with the Gingerbread "superstars."

Additionally, there are "Stories of Gingerbread" guided tours.  The hour-long tours are Wednesday through Sunday at 9 am and 3 pm now through January 1 2012.  Tours are $12 each adult, $6 each child 12 and younger.  Advance reservations are required and may be made by calling 800 438 5800.

Some fun facts about the competition!  There are four age level categories to enter:  Adult (18 years old and older), Teen (13 - 17 years old), Youth (9 - 12 years old) and child (5-8 years old).  While there are many gingerbread houses to view, there are also all sorts of other whimsical gingerbread creations that are truly amazing in creativity and detail.  A professional panel judges the entries and the judging is based on overall appearance, originality/creativity, difficulty, precision and consistency of theme.  The entries must be constructed entirely of edible materials (except for the base).  Size may not exceed 2 feet long by 2 feet wide by 2 feet tall.  More than $12,000 in cash prizes are awarded and the grand prize winner received a $3000 cash prize and a 2 night Club Floor stay for 2 at the Grove Park Inn (so get your plans  entry ready for next year!!).

And if you're looking for lodging nearby (other than at the Grove Park Inn), consider an Asheville Bed and Breakfast, Asheville Cabin or Asheville Vacation Rental.  We'd love to host you during your holiday stay in Asheville, NC and can help you with your holiday plans & reservations!  So much to do this season here in Asheville NC and Western North Carolina.

Keep scrolling down for to view more Gingerbread entry pictures!  I like the children entries the most.

The Historic Grove Park Inn - view of the back side from the newer Sammon Wing

Not of Gingerbread!  But a fun scale model of the Grove Park Inn found in one of the hallways.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving, in Asheville, NC

Thanksgiving week in Asheville, NC and things to do.  Yes, many restaurants and shops will be closed on Thanksgiving day itself, but lots will be open.  Following are a few options for the week, weekend and Thanksgiving Day.

Most restaurants, shops and activities will be open on Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week, and a few will be open on Thanksgiving Day itself.

The Biltmore Estate will be open on Thanksgiving Day, although no Candlelight tours will be available that evening.  In spite of no candlelight tour, it should be a wonderful day to visit the Biltmore Estate, grounds and winery as the crowds will be a bit down (expect it to be very crowded on the Friday after Thanksgiving day).  Restaurants on the Estate grounds will be open, including the Deerpark Inn, with traditional Thanksgiving fare (reservations required, 828 225-6260).

Other restaurants in town and in the area reported to be open for Thanksgiving Day dinner include the Grove Park Inn, Grand Bohemian Hotel, Hotel Indigo Hotel's 151 Boutique Bar & Kitchen, Restaurant Solace, Packs Tavern, Olive or Twist and more.  If you decide to have lunch or dinner at the Grove Park Inn, be sure and visit the Gingerbread House exhibit!

For entertainment, most venues will be closed on Thanksgiving Day itself but look for lots to do on Wednesday and again on Friday and through the weekend.

The NC Stage Company (15 Stage Lane, Asheville, NC 28801, 828 239-0263) will be presenting "It's a Wonderful Life" all week, excepting Thursday night (Tuesday Nov 22, Wed Nov 23, Fri 25 - Sun 27th at 7:30 pm) - a fun and heart-warming play set in the fictional studio of WVL Radio Theater, struggling to stay on air on a snowy winters night.  four actors play all the roles, sponsored by BMW of Asheville.  $20 Adult tickets, $10 children, sure to get you in the holiday spirit!

And, if you need a place to stay, consider an Asheville Bed and Breakfast or Asheville Vacation Rental.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easy Holiday Recipes from Family Friendly Asheville Bed and Breakfast, Oakland Cottage B&B

Holiday Peanut Brittle - YUM!
What better way to celebrate the holiday season with your family than in the kitchen with fun and easy holiday recipes; that's just what we do with our family, too, here at Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast, a family friendly Asheville Bed and Breakfast.

Here's one of my favorite quick and easy holiday recipes, this one is fun to do with the children (and grown-ups, too!) and makes a great gift:

Peanut Brittle makes a wonderful Christmas treat or holiday gift.  It is so easy to find fun containers, either old ones to re-use and recycle, or inexpensive new ones, for fun and easy gift packaging.

Stay with us at Oakland Cottage B&B or one of our Asheville Cabin Rentals or Asheville Vacation Rentals, when you Vacation In Asheville this holiday season.  You might just find some home-made peanut brittle on the Welcome Table when you check in!

Holiday Peanut Brittle:
Cook Time: 15 minutes

2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup (or less) of peanuts, pecans or walnuts

This is so easy you will never buy peanut brittle again! Melt the sugar in a skillet on medium heat, stirring constantly (if the heat is too high, the sugar will end up with a little bit of a burned flavor). As it melts, the sugar will become more and more crumbly.  Keep stirring until all the "crumbles" are melted.  Once the sugar has completely melted, stir in the butter and your choice of nuts. While hot, pour onto a greased cookie pan, 8X12 or larger (one with a rim, not a sheet), allowing the mixture to spread out over the sheet. Let cool. Break into pieces.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where to find Santa Clause, this 2011 Christmas Season, in the Asheville Area

There will be lots of places to find Santa Clause this 2011 Christmas Season, in the Asheville, NC area and mountains of Western NC.  Following is a list of some of the upcoming places, many of which are free, compliments of Santa's day-planner.

November 4 - December 24th, 2011 Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, in Bryson, NC, Ride the Polar Express and see Santa.  Prices vary, see the GSMR website for details and schedule.

Santa arrived at the Asheville Mall on Saturday November 12th, 2011, and may be seen between Barnes and Noble and the new ULTA.  Lots of happenings are available at the Asheville Mall which include Santa.  Click the link here for Santa's full schedule at The Asheville Mall and photo package prices.

Friday November 18th, enjoy the lighting celebration in the Biltmore Park Town Square, with carolers, magicians, horse drawn carriage and visits with Mr. & Mrs. Clause.  At 7:00 pm Santa Clause will lead the countdown to light the 25' Christmas Tree and complimentary photos may be taken with Mr. & Mrs. Clause throughout the evening.  Free.

Saturday November 19th, 2011, beginning at 11:00 am along the streets of Downtown Asheville, don't miss the 65th Asheville Parade, themed "Days Gone By." Santa will be the last of approximately 100 floats!  Free.

Saturday December 3rd and December 10th, 2011, 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, watch Santa scale the 315' Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock Park, his favorite annual practicing grounds for the real thing.  Park Admission.

Saturday December 3rd, Black Mountain Annual Christmas Parade with Santa begins at 4:00 pm along the streets of Downtown Black Mountain.  Free.

Sunday December 4, 2011, 2-5pm JingleFest at the Roger McGuire Green Terrace in Pack Square with caroling, dance, holiday games and contests.  Sponsored by Fun Depot, so sure to be fun.  Elves & Reindeer will be there, and Santa is sure to stop by.

Need a family friendly place to stay during the holiday season?!  Be sure and call us for your Vacation In Asheville for a Cabin, Vacation Rental, or Asheville Bed and Breakfast stay.  Happy Holidays!  And we'll keep you posted about more fun events this Christmas in Asheville.

"A Taste of Asheville", November 17, 2011, Asheville Independent Restaurants,

Not to be missed, A Taste of Asheville is Asheville Independent Restaurant Association's (AIR) annual fundraising party (!) and this years event will be held November 17, 2011 from 7-9 pm at The Venue, 21 N Market Street.  This year, 31 plus member restaurants are participating as well as local breweries for wine and beer tasting opportunities.  For a bargain, Tickets are $70 per person and $125 per couple, available on the AIR website at or at The Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau at 36 Montford Avenue; or for more information, call 828 338 9839.

An additional bonus, The AIR PASSPORT program will be officially kicked off at this event.  the AIR PASSPORT offers discounts at many of the best and most popular restaurants and offers a great incentive to try out AIR member restaurants in the Asheville Area.  The cost for the AIR PASSPORT is $50 with coupons totaling over $600 in savings at AIR member restaurants; coupons are good for one year.

A portion of the proceeds from both A Taste of Asheville and the AIR PASSPORT sales will partially fund AIR's Chefs of Tomorrow scholarship program at A-B Tech.

Independent Restaurants that cater to local and quality foods abound in Asheville, NC making dining a unique, extra-flavorful, healthy and fun (really fun) experience.  What better way to enjoy it all in this one event, A Taste of Asheville and through the purchase of the AIR PASSPORT, for year long savings and enjoyment.  Need a place to stay while you're dining here in Asheville?  Oakland Cottage B&B of Vacation In Asheville, is centrally located, just 1 mile north of Biltmore Village and 1 mile south of Downtown Asheville in a neighborhood bordering AB-Tech campus.  We have rooms and Suites ranging from $90 to $150 nightly double occupancy and include a delightful breakfast each morning!  We are a family friendly Bed and Breakfast and several rooms are pet friendly, too!  Come stay with us and try out AIR member restaurants while you are here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You won't hear Lady GaGa at Oakland Cottage B&B, but our Teen-Age Son is Listening

Our son is an avid Lady GaGa fan, and while you won't hear Lady GaGa's music during your stay here at Oakland Cottage B&B (unless you bring it), you may know it is being passionately listened to over and over and over again by our 13 year old son through his I-Pod earphones.

Living in an Asheville B&B is a unique experience, especially with a Teen-ager on board.  It does have advantages - he mows the lawn, rakes the leaves, helps with the trash & recycling and brings a great smile to our breakfast preparations each mornings before he heads off to school.

And he keeps us updated on all the current pop trends, like Lady GaGa, what is trending on Twitter and more.  We really are family friendly and there is a reason why.  We're a family living at a B&B.

Never a dull moment at our house & home, here at Oakland Cottage B&B.  Come stay with us - and bring your family!