Monday, September 30, 2013

Imbibing through Asheville, NC

Being married to a beer geek has some perks - destination travel is one of them: to celebrate O's birthday we planned a  long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina (Beer City USA), with a focus on breweries. We booked a really nice room in an AirBnB walking distance from downtown, made Friday night dinner reservations at the The Admiral and played the rest by ear. By Sunday morning I was impressed, this trip to Asheville definitely exceeded all my expectations. 

The Asheville breakdown:
Where to drink:
• Wicked Weed Brewing -  to our surprise, Cliff Williams (the bassist from AC/DC), showed up during our visit to tap the keg of a special beer (Dirty Weeds, a play on "Dirty Deeds") he'd brewed with this brewery. Be sure to spend time downstairs in the tasting room; great sunlight during the sunset + picnic tables + delicious sour beers = perfect place to spend a late afternoon. I was also very excited by the historical reference on the doors to the restrooms. Photos below: do you get it!? 
• Wedge Brewing - I'm in love with this place. Seriously - I want to move in. Everything about it made me feel like I was back at RISD. What's not to love: good beer, a food truck, corn hole, twinkling strung lights, cool metal marionettes/giant puppets/sculptures and laid back creative professionals. Go after sundown to best appreciate the atmosphere.

Where to eat:
• The Admiral - everything was worth writing home about: food, service & ambiance. Plan ahead because I hear they often have a wait. It's a great place to celebrate a birthday or anniversary; just let them know ahead of time.
• White Duck Taco Shop - around the corner from Wedge Brewery. Swing by for a late night snack.
• Over Easy - delicious breakfast in an intimate setting. Don't miss their perfect biscuits!

Where to spend time during the day:
Woolworth Walk Art Gallery
• Lexington Park Antiques
• Malaprops Book Store
• Ok fine, the Biltmore Estate - but only if you haven't been there before. I've been so many times I have to strain to find it interesting. 

Also noteworthy:
• Green Man Brewing - when we stopped by at noon they hadn't yet opened for the day
• Barley's Tap Room - the birth place of Asheville's brewing scene
• Ben's Tune Up - cool atmosphere but weak beer list

Monday, September 23, 2013

A brief history of Grant Park

Atlanta has been my home for most of my life but it wasn't until I settled in historic Grant Park that I truly felt I'd found where I belonged. As a child growing up in Dunwoody (an Atlanta suburb) I was very aware of the lack of history around me. The most historic thing about my suburb was the old Spruill Farm House (and I was enamored by it). So it's no surprise that when I moved to Providence, Rhode Island for college I enthusiastically consumed as much local history as I could get my hands on. The campus tours I led for the RISD admissions office focused as much on the history of the city as it did the school. (And there was plenty to share: ranging from the building where George Washington renounced the colonies allegiance to King George III to tunnels used by the Underground Railroad). 

Thirteen years later, I'm back in Atlanta as a resident of a Grant Park, a nationally recognized historic district. This history of my neighborhood is accessible and interesting and I find myself pouring over it at every opportunity. Not everyone loves history as much as I do - but I do believe everyone loves a good story and some fun facts. To that end I complied a little timeline marking events I think Grant Parkers might find interesting:

• 1821 - Creek Indians give up territory that will eventually become modern day Atlanta
• 1836 - The Western and Atlantic Railroad plans a route to connect Savannah to the Midwest. The initial track runs from Chattanooga to a spot near the Chattahoochee - this spot is marked as "mile post zero". The community that grows up around it becomes known as "Terminus" aka "the end of the line". John Thrasher is hired by the Western and Atlantic Railroad to develop the area's first homes and a general store for railroad workers. The community takes on his name: Thrasherville. (Current day: Marietta Blvd across from Fairlie-Polar District).  
• 1842 - Terminus/Thrasherville is renamed "Marthasville" after Governor Wilson Lumpkin's daughter, Martha. When Martha Lumpkin dies in 1917 she is buried in the original 6 acres of Oakland Cemetery.
• 1843- Lemuel P. Grant, an engineer with the railroad who owns more the 600 acres around the area, donates some of his land to the city prompting the railroad to move the track's end to the donated land and away from Thrasher's general store. Thrasher is so upset that he moves to Griffin. (I question the validity of this story)
• 1845 - A chief engineer of the Georgia Rail Road suggests renaming the city "Atlantica-Pacifica" (presumably referencing: from the Atlantic to the Pacific).
• 1847 - "Atlanta" officially becomes Atlanta. 
• 1850 - Oakland Cemetery is founded
• 1856 - Lemuel P. Grant builds his home in Grant Park
• 1861 - the American Civil War begins
• 1864 - Battle of Atlanta. Battle lines follow current Moreland Avenue south from the Edgewood shopping center to I-20 where they make a 90 degree turn towards the west. Sherman burns an estimated 3,200 to 5,000 buildings - sparing about 400. Lemuel P. Grant's home is spared because of the Masonic paraphernalia found on the property.
• 1865 - Civil War ends, Atlanta begins rebuilding.
• 1880 - Atlanta's population hits 37,500. It is the largest city between Richmond, Virginia and New Orleans, Louisiana. (Note: Turner Field's current capacity is 50,000).
• 1882 - Lemuel P. Grant donates 100 acres of his land for the formation of Grant Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Today the neighborhood is home to most of Atlanta's original Victorian architecture. 
• 1889 - A traveling circus goes bankrupt and abandons it's animals in Grant Park. Zoo Atlanta is formed. 
• 1893 - Lemuel Grant dies in the overgrown Victorian home at the corner of Sydney and Hill St. 
• 1902 - Golf legend Bobby Jones is born in the master bedroom of Grant Lemuel's first home. 
• 1940s - Margaret Mitchell starts a campaign to save the Grant mansion but is cut short when killed by a taxi on Peachtree at 13th Street.
• 1960's and 1970's - Interstates 75/85/20 separate Grant Park from the rest of Atlanta

I'm interested in knowing more about the similarities and differences between the development of Grant Park and it's contemporary neighbor Inman Park. If anyone has information on how the two neighborhoods were viewed, relative to one another in the 1880s, I'd love to hear/read it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Homegrown radishes

Six weeks ago we planted radish seeds in the front garden. And according to the packet I should've picked them three weeks ago - opps! I suppose that explains why you can see them BURSTING from the soil. These radishes are the MOST peppery radishes I have ever tasted. They taste more like horseradish then radish. To cut the intensity (and make them edible) I'm going to mix them with chick peas to create a hummus with an extra kick! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Favorite Podcasts

I'm writing this blog post in stealth during the monthly GPNA meeting (at Zoo Atlanta). MothBall planning and design continues to dominate my free time so I thought I'd share a few of the podcasts that I've been listening to while I work.

Favorite podcasts about Atlanta: Sidewalk Radio with Gene Kansas
- All Aboard, the Belt line! 11/1/10
- Alive at Oakland 1/17/11
- Sweet Auburn 2/27/12

Favorite podcasts about food:
- Freakonomics: You are what you eat 6/6/12
- Freakonomics: 100 Ways to fight obesity 3/27/13
- Table to Farm

Favorite overall podcasts:
- This American Life
- Radio lab
- 99% Invisible

Until I have a chance to get back to posting about Grant Park and heart healthy living, I hope you'll enjoy these great podcasts. I usually listen at work, Oliver listens while cooking, when do you listen?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Time flies when you're....

If I manage to write this post in under an hour then I'll be able to say it's only been a month since I last checked in.  For the first time in three years I've been too busy too go to the gym regularly or make time for my weekly trip to Your DeKalb Farmers Market. Folks - if you know me, you know skipping those lifestyle commitments is a HUGE deal. So what gives? Festivals, party planning, costume making and print designs. Yet despite the hectic schedule, I haven't been this proud to be an Atlantan since 1996. 

Anyone who has lived in the city of Atlanta  (proper, not 'burbs)  knows that Atlantans LIVE for their spring and fall festivals. For me, fall festival season started 3 days after I planted the late summer garden. First there was the Decatur BBQ, Blues & Bluegrass Fest; a week later was Grant Park's Summer Shade Fest and the following weekend is what I'm officially declaring "the best weekend to be in Atlanta" - LABOR DAY WEEKEND! 

My Labor Day weekends in Atlanta are highlighted by my bicycle. Everything we do for three days is within biking distance:  Braves game Thursday or Friday night. Dragon*Con Parade Saturday morning always followed by lunch with friends at Elliot Street Tavern in Castleberry Hill before heading to the Georgia Dome to check out SEC Football kick-off weekend tailgates. Saturday night, Sunday and Monday are chocked full of unusually awesome party options. Our 2013 Labor Day weekend was so perfect that it was impossible to imagine the next weekend was going to be even better.

The following Saturday was both the Porter's 5th anniversary and the Beltline Lantern Parade. Sunday, Street's Alive and the NFL kick-off game between the Falcons and Saints. Saturday morning I woke up early to finish costumes for the the #GothMoths, then I put those costumes and my bike into our pick-up truck. I drove to Cabbagetown where I dropped off the costumes. Next I drove to Midtown, dropped off the truck, hopped onto my bike and took the Beltline to Little Five Points just in time for the Porter's 5th Anniversary. A few hours later: Little Five Points to Inman Park where we met up with the #GothMoths and participated in the jaw dropping Beltline Lantern Parade. At the end of the Beltline everyone hopped into the truck (which I'd purposely left in Midtown earlier in the day) and headed back to our side of the city. Sunday my Mom joined me for the Bicycle Parade along Peachtree Street. That night was the Grant Park Neighborhood Association monthly meeting - which leads me to the next part of being so busy.

I'm quite flattered and proud to say that I'm now the VP of Fundraising for Grant Park - my primary role being the subcommittee Chair of the annual MothBall celebration. When I accepted the nomination I anticipated party planning; I did not expect the world of contracts and licenses and meetings and notes that followed!! Regardless, this has been an invaluable learning experience and I look forward to sharing more of the details - when I have time!! If you don't already like gpMothBall on Facebook please do so now; it means a lot (read: too much) to me!

(More Dragon*Con parade photos on our FB page!)