I: YinYin

For my second day of “thanksgiving,” I chose to highlight my biggest confidant, my sorority little and my best friend, YinYin!

Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet YinYin knows has she a sass that is unmatched. They know grit, determination and someone who you can count on with your life. You can also expect a mean side-eye from across the room at any given moment.

I originally met YinYin my sophomore year (her freshman year) of college at the University of South Carolina. Go Cocks! YinYin had just joined the sorority that fall and we were both in the hunt for our respective big and little. Our big and little process was well underway and I wasn’t quite sure of any of the girls I had been matched with previously. In our next to last week of Crescent week, I was at Cookout with some of my friends one night when I saw YinYin with her Crescent. I immediately requested to be her Crescent for the final week and I am so glad I did. Call me creepy if you will. The Lord works in mysterious ways. 😂

Everybody has a home team: It’s the people that you call when you get a flat tire or when something terrible happens. It’s the people, who near or far, know everything that’s wrong with you and love you anyways. These are the ones who tell you their secrets, who get themselves a glass of water at you’re house without asking. These are the people who cry when you cry. These are your people, your middle of the night, no matter what people.

YinYin has been my “home team” since the day we met. We share the same love of naps, all things ice cream and Asian food. We throw up our peace signs as a sign of endearment and you can often find us day dreaming of our next trip abroad together. We can find all of the best Pho spots in town and will one day get our matching elephant tattoos that we’ve promised!

There’s nobody else I’d rather wander through downtown China Town during Chinese New Year 🧧 only to find confetti cannons to shoot off.

There’s no other person I’d rather sit in coffee shops eating our gelato in Québec City with or wander through shopping centers of Hilton Head to find macaroons before a friend’s wedding.

She went above and beyond to make sure my bachelorette weekend was more than I could have ever imagined and had the cutest bags made. She even flew into town a day early to sit in the floor and hand steam chair covers with me for my wedding.

Thank you for being you, YinYin. You allow me to say just about anything and to rant about whatever is on my mind without judging too hard. I could not be more grateful for you and I look forward to the day we’re roommates together in the nursing home. 💗✌🏼

30 Days of Thanksgiving

It’s officially turkey month, folks!

As a month that is about thanks, hence the name, I felt led to write about a different thing, person, place, etc. that I am thankful for for each day of the month. Some blogs might be shorter or longer, in nature, but we are rolling with it.

For the first day of Thanksgiving blog series , I am thankful for change. Why am I thankful for such a thing, you might ask?

Anyone who has known me for any amount of time could tell you that I am one that despises change. As a Type A, slight OCD person, routine is very comforting. Having things color-coded, alphabetized and in order makes my soul sing to new heights.

If 2020 has taught me anything, however, it is how much change is inevitable. Change is good, although sometimes very uncomfortable. Things are always evolving, so we have to learn that you are either stuck in a complacency or learn to embrace the unknown.

Don’t get me wrong in the fact that some things are not meant to change, like laws and biblical truth. There are certain things that must remain constant for some kind of order among the crazy in the world. These allow us to know what is expected of us and for us to live with order.

In the first ten months of 2020 alone, I have seen:
• A move to Asheville, NC
• New jobs for my husband and I
• A new 2020 Honda CR-V
• Our 1 Year Anniversary of being married (Aug. 3)
• Adopting our kitten, Belmont
• Surviving life during a pandemic
• The biggest Presidential election known to date

Although life is hard and living through a pandemic was not what we had envisioned for this year, it has brought so much growth. With that being said, I have come to understand that so much of life is out of my control. What I can control are my reactions and my emotions. My attitude will take me farther than anything that happens to me.

I pray that in every evolving season and in with every unknown, we remain confident in His truth and know that He is good. He will sustain us when we are weak. Rest in the fact that he knows our future.

There is beauty in the unknown. We can know that God is our constant through it all.

QOTD: What are you thankful for you today?

TOP OCTOBER ACTIVITIES

We all know that October is one of the best months of the year! October means the leaves are changing, Pumpkin Spice Lattes has graced our coffee shops and Halloween is only a few weeks away!

Below, I’ve created a few of my favorite movies and activities for the month of October. I hope you enjoy it!

MOVIES

Hocus Pocus (1993)

After moving to Salem, Massachusetts teenager Max Dennison explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani and their new friend, Allison. After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees the brood of three evil witch sisters who used to live in the abandoned house. Now, with the help of a magical black cat, Binx, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal and to save all of the kids on Halloween night. To me personally, this tale of the Sanderson sisters is an all time great and is one you can watch 1000x over. Hocus Pocus also came out in year I was in born! How neat?

Halloweentown (1998)

Marnie and her siblings get a big shock when they follow grandma home to Halloweentown and find out they come from a family of witches. The town is the only place where supernatural beings can lead a “normal” life, but trouble is looming, and on her 13th birthday Marnie not only finds she is a witch, but that she and her family are involved in a fight against the evil that is threatening to take over the world.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

You’re never too old to enjoy the Peanuts gang! Get excited for pumpkin picking, trick-or-treating, and more favorite fall festivities in this sweet cartoon for the whole family. It’s a light-hearted movie that is bound to lift your spirits! Grab a bucket of popcorn and relax.

FOOD AND DRINKS

Beer

Fall means that the beer scene is spot on. Some of my seasonal favorites are:

• Oktoberfest • Nitro Series Pumpkin Spice Latte

☆ Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Apple Butter has not always been a favorite of mine, but has become a Fall delicacy in my household over the last few years! My husband is a huge fan, so I always buy an extra bushel to make him a batch. This caramel apple butter recipe is mouthwatering! The easy thing about apple butter is that you throw all of your ingredients in a Crockpot and leave it for the next 8 hours. Add some ice cream with your warm apple butter and you will be wondering why it took you so long to find out about it.

Apple Donuts and Cider

Apple Donuts from any local apple orchard is a must. They are all made in house and will melt in your mouth. The line at Sky Top is always a 20+ minute wait, but fo yourself a favor. They’re coated in a sugar mixture and are fried to perfection.

SIGHT-SEEING

Blue Ridge Parkway

Since moving to Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway has been one of my favorite roads to drive! It’s a 469 mike stretch through NC and VA and is such a great place to go clear your head. Now that the leaves are changing, it is one of the most breathtaking sights on the east coast! Grab a picnic basket and find one of the overlooks to enjoy the cool air and mountain views.

Pumpkin Patches

I found a local pumpkin patch here in Asheville at a local Methodist church. Granddad’s Apples in Hendersonville, NC also has an apple orchard, a corn maze and a wide array of pumpkins to pick from. Take home anything from fresh-picked apples, to apple butter or hot cider. They have an kid’s area with hay bales to climb on, slides and life-sized games like Connect 4.

Sky Top Orchard

Sky Top Orchard is hidden in the mountains of Flat Rock, NC. We went earlier in the season, so it definitely was more crowded than we had expected, but it’s always worth the wait. They have endless acres of apples to pick from. Grab a map and go find your favorites. You are able to mix and match, so it’s a great way to get apples for the entire family. Because of Covid protocols, we also got to keep the basket we picked with. That’s one positive thing from this virus, amiright? It made for a cute decoration on our front stoop. They also have an apple cannon that is /.

Carving / Painting Pumpkins

Grab a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch or from a local grocery store and get to carving! My friends and I had a craft night together last week and loved getting to pick our own designs. If you aren’t sure of what to carve, check out Pinterest for some great ideas! Roast the pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack later on! If you aren’t into the whole carving scene or have smaller children, grab some paint and go to town. I honestly prefer painting mine, anyhow!

Trunk-or-Treat
One of the many Halloween childhood favorites was Trunk-or-Treat many moons ago! People park their cars in a line with their trunks decorated with a certain “theme.” Kids would be dressed up and go from trunk to trunk for candy. It was such a fun time with your church family and the local community. Check out local churches in your area for Trunk-or-Treat opportunities this year. It’s a safe alternative and isn’t as much walking from house to house. (haha) if you’re in the Asheville area, check out this one from Elevation church!

MUSIC

☆ Halloween Playlist

We all know that music puts us in a good mood! I’ve created a playlist so you can jam while cleaning the house, doing other chores or when you’re out and about running errands.

Happy Halloween, Alex in Asheville

WOMEN IN SCRIPTURE: Esther

More so than ever, women in scripture have fascinated me and captivated my time in scripture reading. Like all things in the Bible, these women all served a great purpose and do an amazing job of portraying a story to us modern-day women (and men).

With each woman, I will dive into their role as it plays out in scripture and how it can better relate to our lives today.

For my first powerhouse woman of the Bible, I chose Esther. Esther is the seventeenth book of the Bible and means “secret” or “hidden.” We know , however, that Esther’s story is quite the opposite.

Esther was born during a time of Israel’s exile and their disobedience to the Lord.

As a part of Esther’s story, she:

1. She lived in exile.

Esther and a significant number of the Jewish people lived scattered throughout Persia after the Babylonian exile. Although they had been granted freedom to return to their homeland, many of the Jewish people stayed in exile rather than go back to a war-torn Jerusalem.

2. She was an orphan.

According to Scripture, Esther had no parents. She had lost both her mother and father and was raised by her older cousin, Mordecai. (Esther 2:7)

3. She was taken captive.

The Persian King, Xerxes was displeased with his wife and sought her replacement. Naturally, he made a decree in order to gather to himself all suitable virgins in the region.

So when the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. (Esther 2:8)

We read in Scripture that Esther was young and exceptionally beautiful. We can also see that, from the language used here, Esther didn’t have much say in the matters that unfolded. She most likely didn’t submit a résumé or raise her hand excitedly to volunteer for the harem. She was young, she was pretty, and she was taken.

4. She was raped.

This part comes as a shocker to people, even to those who have read the whole Megillah as part of their yearly Purim celebration. But the Scriptures are pretty clear about what happened.

Now, when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women – when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.” (Esther 2:12–14)

The virgins, who were all quite young, were escorted to the king, who is said to have been approximately 40 years old at the time. They were taken one by one, for him to sleep with. They didn’t return to the other virgins, but instead were added to the number of the king’s other concubines (sex slaves without wife status). No other man could ever be their husband, and they never saw the king again unless he was “pleased with them.” In short, the king test-drove all the models before making his purchase, and he did so with Esther to replace his former queen.

5. She risked execution.

When Mordecai learns of Haman’s (the king’s advisor) plot to annihilate all of the Jewish people, Esther is pushed to center stage. Mordecai sends the queen a message, telling her to throw herself before the king and beg for mercy on behalf of her people. This wasn’t as easy as it may have sounded. Esther knew that anyone who approached the king without first being summoned was killed – unless the king was in the mood to extend his scepter and spare their life. What Mordecai was asking her to do could have easily been the last thing she ever did.

But Mordecai said: “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14). Hello, Jewish guilt.

Esther, Mordecai, and the Jewish people fasted and prayed. Then, Esther went before the king.

Thankfully, the king held out his scepter. He heard her case and granted her requests.

God used both Mordecai and Esther in a powerful way to deliver the Jewish people from obliteration.

Esther wasn’t a cheerleader. She wasn’t Mordecai’s sidekick. By spending a moment focusing on Esther as an individual and addressing the very real and horrible things this woman of God endured, we are able to more clearly see her character and courage and God’s redemptive love at work in spite of the sins of man.

He chose a woman who had everything taken from her – her parents, her freedom, her virginity – and He gave her everything. He used someone who, due to gender, culture, and circumstance, was powerless and invisible and made her the pivotal, formidable heroine. Let that sink in.

Esther’s story is a powerful reminder that God can bring about new life, redemption and freedom, even when it seems an impossible feat. We can also rest assure that especially in a time in major turmoil over the upcoming 2020 election, God is ultimately sovereign over the heart of King. He knows who will be named President, but rest assured in knowing that God appoints leaders and uses them to accomplish His plan––whether they are Godly leaders or not. 

“Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19

Let us be more like Esther today. Let us remember that God uses ordinary people in major ways and to not allow difficult circumstances make us bitter. Let us be bold in all aspects of our lives and to go forth to make disciples of many.

Remember that God is working behind the scenes, even when we can’t see it or feel that He is close. He is fighting for His children, always. Lean into the promises of God today. He is fighting for you.


Alex in Asheville

Operation Christmas Child

Since I was a child, my family has participated in Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, which is a Christmas initiative to bring joy to kids all over the world through shoe boxes filled with toys.

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to provide God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The premise behind Operation Christmas Child came from the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37, which gives a clear picture of God’s desire for us to help those in desperate need wherever we find them. After describing how the Samaritan rescued a hurting man whom others had passed by, Jesus told His hearers, “Go and do likewise.” For over 40 years, Samaritan’s Purse has done their utmost to follow Christ’s command by going to the aid of the world’s poor, sick, and suffering. By being an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ, it earns Samaritan’s Purse a chance to tell the Gospel and good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

As their teams work in crisis areas of the world, people often ask, “Why did you come?” The answer is always the same: “We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our ministry is all about Jesus—first, last, and always. As the Apostle Paul said, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

With each box, you can pick out gifts for either a boy or girl and in one age category: 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14. You can either pack an empty shoe box from home or pick up one at your local Hobby Lobby. Things like journals, dolls, balls and other such things can

“Every box is an opportunity to reach a child with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Franklin Graham
President, Samaritan’s Purse

If you would rather build one online, check out my page to do so. You will be able to pick out specifics gifts and write a message to the child you’re sending them to!

Thank you for all of your help! Let’s make this the best Christmas yet and impact a child for the kingdom!

💗 Alex in Asheville

Young Living Essential Oils

I signed up for Young Living just a months ago, but I have been researching essential oils for some time now. YL has been such a game changer and I have loved every minute of it.

Why did I join, you might ask?

Young Living vows to provide a safe, holistic product providing major health benefits to their people. It is a company that has been around since 1993 and has truly stood the test of time.

Living a healthy lifestyle has always been important to me, but it’s not until I sat down and start going through all the products in our home and their ingredients that I realized how important it is to have clean, safe products in our home. The products that you are constantly using to clean your floors, your table, the kids toys, etc. are all the things I would think about and then say.

Young Living Essential Oils

Why essential oils?

I wanted a natural way to support our immune system, a natural way to relief pain and aches, like when we have a headache or feel sluggish. I wanted a healthy gut and an energized body. I wanted a natural way for our family to stay healthy and I saw it all in the essential oils.

As we are quickly approaching cold and flu season, it can be hard to find products that do the job adequately but aren’t full of addictives and extra gunk.

My husband will get a headache and reach for his over the counter medicine without a second thought. I’m not that all medicines are bad and some are very much needed (don’t get me wrong on that), but we don’t always realize how many other ingredients go into our bodies that we’re not aware of! I know friends with kids who want safer ingredients for when they get a runny nose, start to cough, feel congested, aren’t able to sleep due to air quality in our home, and so many other things are why I wanted to incorporate essential oils into our lives.

Why did I pick Young Living?

I picked Young Living because I support their mission as a company, their transparency to the community and for their promise of seed to seal guarantee. Their oils are pure (seed to seal) and not altered like so many others you find in stores. I told myself that if I am going to give essential oils a try, they have to be pure and it has to be natural. I pride myself in my choices, and I am happy to share everything with you as well but I always urge everyone to do their own research too. My friend, Katie, was the one that gave me the push that I needed in terms of diving in head first. She held a class to really introduce the oils and allow us to see them in their //.

What Young Living Essential Oils kit did I get?

I got the Premium Starter Kit (PSK) with the Desert Mist diffuser. Since then, I have added a plethora of other essential oils to my collection that smell amazing and provide a safe environment with many medical benefits. YL also offers the Thieves cleaning line, a KidsScent line, CBD items and so many other beauty products, including makeup!

You get twelve essential oils and a diffuser to start with if you go with the PSK (Premium Starter Kit), which is over $265 in value that you get for $125. You can’t get much better than that!

You will receive a:

  • Dewdrop Diffuser w/ a power adapter
  • Lavender 5-ml
  • Peppermint 5-ml
  • Lemon 5-ml
  • Cedarwood 5-ml
  • AromaEase 5-ml
  • Thieves 5-ml
  • Valor 5-ml
  • R.C. 5-ml
  • Citrus Fresh 5-ml
  • PanAway 5-ml
  • Purification 5-ml
  • Deep Relief 5-ml
  • Thieves Hand Sanitizer
  • 2 AromaGlide Roller Fitments
  • 2 Ningxia Sachets
  • Essential Oils at a Glance brochure
  • Product Guide
  • Essential Oils Magazine

You can read about each of these oils and how to use them through this Young Living guide as well. I plan on sharing how we use them at home. My friend, Katie, also gave me a pocket guide for lots of diffuser blends and references for uses on the go, which has been so resourceful!

Thieves Cleaner

Young Living also has a Thieves line, which is among the best cleaner in the game. I have been using mine for a little over a week now and it has become my go-to cleaner. I have only been using it for a little while but cannot tell you enough good things about it. I cannot believe that one bottle can clean just about everything so well — glass, tables, countertops, etc.

Ningxia Red

Infused with Lemon, Orange, Yuzu, and Tangerine essential oils, NingXia Red® is a delicious daily supplement that includes juices and extracts from superfruits such as aronia, plum, blueberry, pomegranate, and best of all — exotic Ningxia wolfberries.

This powerful little berry gets its name from the Ningxia region of China, where Young Living Founder and Chairman of the Board D. Gary Young first learned of its unparalleled nutritional profile. There it’s known by locals as the wolfberry. In the West, however, many know it as the goji berry.

This delicious supplement packs a big punch, offering benefits that include support for normal eye health, cellular function, and energy levels. I have made popsicles, cocktails (yes, you read that right) and smoothies all with my Ningxia Red! It tastes amazing and you will reap the benefits.

Young Living Essential Rewards

I also signed up for the Essential Rewards, which isn’t a must, but is worth it in the long run if you plan to invest in new oils and products every month. You get 10-25% credit back on your purchases to use towards a future purchase. It’s something you can cancel anytime, but is a no-brainer in my book. ☺️

Become a Wholesale Member

Essential oils are more expensive than over the counter, but keep in mind that you pay for what you get. Everything that’s natural and organic is more expensive and that’s just how it is. You can also become a wholesale member to save a lot of money, which I highly recommend.

By signing up as a wholesale member, you get 24% off retailer prices. Do yourself a favor and save yourself some money.

You can enroll with me! Make sure the member number 24184286 appears in both the “Enroller” and “Sponsor ID” fields.

Become a Wholesale Member


All in all, I am pleased in giving essential oils a try and incorporating them into my every day life. The reason I didn’t try them before is because I felt overwhelmed with so many oils! The starter kit gives you the most popular oils and you cannot go wrong with those twelve. I pin diffuser blends and roller blends to my oily board on Pinterest to keep up with what I want to try.

Are you and your family already using essential oils? I would love to hear some of your favorite blends or diffuser recipes!

Are you interested in essential oils? Please feel free to let me know and I can ask any other questions you might have!

Follow me at Alex in Asheville on Instagram to keep up with my daily routines and other oily tips & tricks.

A WEEKEND IN ASHEVILLE, NC

Chandler and I have officially lived in “The Land of the Sky” for almost nine months now, y’all! We have loved every second of our time in Asheville and are constantly finding new hidden gems around our new home.

Now that the leaves are changing and the fall breeze is quickly approaching, it is making me fall more in love with this city.

I’ve listed some of our favorite spots below so you can check them out if you ever stop in the 828. There are hundreds more I could’ve listed, but these are just a few!

Coffee Shops

Farewell Coffee
If you are ever wondering where I am on my day off, there is 99% I am at Farewell Coffee working on my blog and sipping on an iced coffee. Farewell is located on the South Slope of Asheville and has the most eclectic and cheerful vibe. You get lots of natural light and are surrounded by lots of potted plants, all of which are for sale. There is outdoor seating available and a few tables inside. They also serve wine and have pastries available.

PennyCup Coffee Co.
I just discovered PennyCup a few weeks ago and wish it had been sooner. Their Merrimon location has plenty of seating and window seat that is absolutely dreamy. They have a wall-sized mural that runs along the back wall and the most breathtaking woodwork. Their bathroom floor is also epoxyed with actual pennies which brings in a nice touch to their namesake. Their white chocolate iced coffee and lox bagel sandwich are to die for.

Breweries
Lovingly named the “beer city capital,” Asheville has over thirty-three breweries and forty-eight in the greater AVL area as of 2019. We also have second highest number of breweries per capita in the country only after Portland, ME. Chandler and I have often gone on date nights to local breweries around town and not been to one we didn’t like.

Hillman Beer
Hillman is located on the outskirts of Biltmore Village. Hillman Beer is a small, family-owned business that was started by the Hillman brothers who came together to bring the pub style back to the brewery experience.

Catawba Brewing
Catawba Brewing is personally of my favorites! The roots for Catawba Brewing Company are strongly held in the mountains of western North Carolina, and more specifically, the Catawba River for which they are named. They have the best peanut butter & jelly beer that runs through the spring and summer time. Every Saturday, they have live music and local food trucks available on site. There are always lots of dogs running around, so it is a perfect place to bring your pet if you’re looking for a place to bring them.

Breakfast Spots

Green Sage Cafe
Green Sage is committed to serving food that promotes health and supports a vibrant community. Their food is nutrient-rich, chemical-free, organic, and thoughtfully-sourced. Luckily for me, Green Sage is only a five minute walk from apartment. I’ve been able to take friends when they’ve visited and it’s a fan favorite all around.

FOOD FAVORITE: Pura Vida Bowl

Biscuit Head
Biscuit Head is my favorite brunch place in all of the world. They pride themselves on their biscuits the size of cat’s heads and have the most delightful jam bar, all of which are made in house. They are huge portions, so expect to be full well into the afternoon.

FOOD FAVORITE: Mimosa Fried Chicken Biscuit

Dessert

French Broad Chocolate Lounge
The French Broad Chocolate Lounge sits on a downtown Asheville corner and specializes in using carefully sourced beans to create truffles, bars & other sweets. They offer homemade cakes, cookies and bon bons.

Restaurants

White Duck Taco Shop
White Duck also have three locations around the AVL area. We first tried WDTS before COVID and it was such a great find. You can’t go wrong with anything from this eclectic taco shop, but their Bangkok Shrimp Taco and Peanut Thai Chicken Taco are my personal favorites. They also serve local beer and an out-of-this-world queso dip. This is always a go-to for anytime we have any friends and/or first-time guests in town.

Hemmingway’s
If you consider yourself a foodie, Hemmingway’s is your restaurant! Located on the fourth floor of the Cambria Hotel, they have the best Cuban sandwich and Yucca Frita in the area. I first took Chandler here on the second stop of our Valentine’s Day progressive dinner and he instantly fell in love. They offer patio seating with a nice view that overlooks downtown’s streets and also offers a great daiquiri selection.

✩ Sunny Point Cafe
Years before we ever thought about moving to the Asheville area, my in-laws would rave about Sunny Point. At this cafe, they serve solid comfort food (perfect for a weekend brunch) and always have a VERY serious line out the door. If you’re planning a visit, go early to beat the crowds!

Sights and Sounds

Tubing the French Broad
I’ve tubed down the French Broad twice with friends and it is such a great time! It has a steady current, but is relaxing and makes for great conversations down the river. If you are considering factoring this into your trip, it takes roughly two hours from start to finish. We planned our trip through Zen Tubing but I know there are plenty of other companies to tube with.

Hiking Trails / Blue Ridge Parkway
North Carolina has hundreds of trails to choose from. On Labor Day weekend, my friends and I went to Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls and they were both so much fun! If you are ever needing a new place to hike, check out this list from the Asheville Trails page.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is part of the National Park Service and is known as America’s favorite scenic drive. The 469-mile ribbon of road weaves around the peaks of the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains. National Park in North Carolina. You can drive, hike or bike the Parkway, all of which are great options. There are also many breathtaking lookouts that make a great spot for a picnic or to just sit and reflect.

Asheville Tourists Game
We weren’t able to experience a Tourist game this season due to COVID, but I am excited to see what the 2021 season holds. I interned at a Minor League Stadium during college (Go Drive) and have always been a big fan of baseball, so I am ready for games to start back up in the Spring. The Tourists are a Class A affiliate of the Colorado Rockie and the ballpark sits on a section of level ground partway up one of the city’s hills, providing a picturesque atmosphere.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY INTRO

As an idea that came to me randomly today at work, I have a new “series” that I’ll be starting this upcoming weekend!

Every Saturday leading up to the week of Thanksgiving, I will be highlighting a “small business” that has meant something to me as well as ones that I have recently stumbled upon.

I can’t wait to see where this series goes and to bring light to all of the amazing talent we have around us in the Asheville (and Spartanburg) area.

If you have anyone that you would like to nominate for consideration, please send me a message and/or comment below!

Until next time,
Alex in Asheville

MONEY ENVELOPE SYSTEM

In a time when so many of Americans have unsurmountable amounts of debt, it is of upmost importance to be cognizant of spending habits and understand where your money is really going.

When Chandler and I got married, he taught me about his cash envelope system, which is something I quickly fell in love with. I heard about Dave Ramsey’s method, but never followed through with implementing it for myself. Each person has their own method which works for them, and that is totally okay. However you choose to go about it, make it your own and stick to the task. For all of you crafty people, now is your time to shine. Make this something you are proud of and that will keep you coming back.

What is a cash envelope system, exactly?

cash envelope system simply put is a method for monthly budgeting. Cash is placed in different envelopes assigned by major categories. It is a visual way of budgeting and is also a simple way to keep track of your categorized savings by saving obtainable goals made set yourself. Instead of keeping heaps of cash in your wallet and being more careless, it is a way to regulate those more frivolous habits and being more diligent in saving for other major expenses.

For us personally, we have a house and vacation fund that are our two main “focuses” right now. Any time we have extra cash or get any for birthdays/Christmas, we put that aside for those categories.

How does a Cash Envelope System work?

How does this system work? Make a goal for each category and do not over that amount for that amount for the month. For instance, if you have $250 in the grocery envelope, that means you can only spend this amount for the current month you’re on. It basically avoids you from overspending or spending on unnecessary wants rather than needs. Studies have shown, that those who budget based on a cash envelope system save by 15% – 20% monthly.

Why should I start using a Cash Envelope System?

  • It forms a good habit. It makes you disciplined handling money.
  • It allows freedom to spend from all the savings accumulated in the near future.
  • It makes it much harder for overspending, since its restricted to a certain amount in each envelope.
  • It helps with less worries over budgeting. Deposit money into your monthly essential envelopes first.
  • It is a system that is proven successful.

Budget Categories

These are more or less the categories that your expenses might pertain to. You get to directly decide what you’re budgeting for upfront. Start assigning your most important expenses into envelopes. These are in no particular order.

  • Groceries
  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Healthcare
  • Gas
  • Household/Cleaning Supplies
  • Hair/Skincare & Makeup
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Savings
  • Dining & Entertainment
  • Personal Use
  • Vacation Traveling
  • Gifts (Birthday/Christmas/etc.)

Starting Your Budget

Set you spending limit and ensure you’re on the same page with yourself or your significant other. Pick your categories, start micromanaging and stick to the budget. Some of us go way overboard! We see a fancy shirt/dress and we pick it up! We have cooked food at home yet still purchase fast food same day! We don’t thing to look in our pantry and overspend in groceries by picking up stuff we already have x3 at home! The plan is simple. Needs > wants. Do I need this? Don’t I have it already? Will it cross my budget? Is there something more important I should buy instead of this? Can I buy this next month instead? Should I go with a more affordable yet decent quality brand? All of these questions should be answered by yourself before spending.

What if I Run out of Money in an Envelope?

This is a really good question. There is a possibility of this happening, so don’t beat yourself up if this happens. If it does happen to be a higher tier then read “What About an Emergency?” below. If it’s not one of those however, then do not give into temptation of moving cash around carelessly. Do not start taking out money from envelope Y or your wallet to put in envelope Z. ” I’ve got $500 in savings, so I can to transfer funds to my clothing envelope” is a careless idea unless you really need new clothes.

What About an Emergency?

Let’s say an emergency situation arises and leaves you with having to touch that trusty envelope. Rather than using money from your “higher importance” envelopes, I recommend using funds from the lower tiers instead for this situation. From there, realign or readjust your budget and make a note on it. Accountability is key here.

Extra Money At Month End

If you realize there’s extra money at month’s end, give yourself a small pat on the back. That just goes to show that you have budgeted correctly, so enjoy a little celebration and reward yourself! Grab some snacks or grab a coffee! If that’s not something you want to do, then simply roll over the money to next month’s budget or keep it in your savings. For those in debt, avoid the lavish celebrations and try clearing up some with the extra cash.

A Cash Envelope System is a powerful ally in a fight against overspending.

It teaches you better money management skills and principles that make you wonder why you didn’t implement it any sooner. Give it a try and see why millions of others are currently switching to it. It has really been an eye opener for me. Save now. Reap and benefit later.


I’m not perfect by any means, but this allows me this to be more diligent in understanding my spending habits and where I can cut back.

Happy saving,
Alex in Asheville

RBG dies at 87

Whether you agreed with her politically or not, credit cannot be denied Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the determination, grit and exceptional work ethic which epitomized her life and career.

On Friday, September 18th, our nation lost a justice of historic stature and a women who undoubtedly paved the path for women across the country.

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg served twenty-seven years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member and rightly so.

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

As one of the very few women in her chosen path of education and law, she thrived at Cornell, Harvard and Columbia just after loosing her mother as a teenager. She managed to care for her own family all while supporting her her husband’s bout with cancer and maintaining his and her class load both. Mind blown…

Watching On the Basis of Sex opened my eyes to just how she single-handily catapulted women’s rights and forced for their voices to be heard. She fought to make the justice system and life beyond a level playing field. I would definitely recommend watching this movie if you haven’t already.

RGB made it possible for a woman to have
• the right to sign a mortgage without a man
• the right to have a bank account without a male co-signer • the right to have a job without being discriminated based on gender
• the right to be pregnant and/or have kids while still carrying a job

If you can’t count the number of rights that you have because there are too many to count, you have Justice Ginsburg to thank.

Every woman stands on the shoulders of this tiny, but mighty giant.
For every second of every day, there are not enough thanks in the world to thank Justice Ginsburg and the path you chose to pave for women everywhere.

I have admired her grit and example of perseverance. I pray those close to RBG find comfort in the days and weeks to come as the Lady Justice has now taken her final leave.


#RIP Justice RBG.