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Cottage #15 Makeover

We are always working on a project, planning the next project, finishing a project and at times working on more than one at once. We never cease to amaze ourselves by what we can accomplish with our limited resources of time, money and people. The latest project is no exception.

Cottage 15, our two bedroom, has been in need of some attention, especially the kitchen.  In one week it underwent an amazing makeover.

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While we were in #15 working on the kitchen we also bought new furniture for the living room as well as some new curtains and a 42″ flat screen TV above the fireplace.

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We have Cottage #15 scheduled off the calendar a couple more times over the winter to paint bedrooms, living room and refinish floors.

We often daydream about what we could do with a crew like on one of those reality tv shows.

A Whimsical Garden Plant Exchange: A Really Good Idea

Plant Exchange

Enter Spring – Write & Release

I only wish I had said it first.

Gifts Of The Journey

Blackbird Egg - Elizabeth Harper

If you were to peek behind the curtain at GOTJ, you would see more than a few potential posts that read, <no title> Draft.

Some have photos, some don’t, a few are complete and ready to publish needing only a last read-through first. But given what has been happening in the world over the last month or so, my posts seemed like an uninteresting waste of your time and mine. So I let them sit.

It is not the first time I’ve done this … taken an impromptu sabbatical where I have withdrawn into reading while neglecting my writing.

Unfinished potential some might call it.

A friend asked me yesterday how my book was coming along and I while I wanted to say which one, I just said simply, ‘ It’s not. ‘

‘ Oh,’  he said, as he shook his head slowly, ‘ I thought you would be one of the ones to…

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Hunger Games – District 12

I hadn’t even thought of going to visit this little ghost town – what fun – I can’t wait to take the kids. Living in Asheville there is so much focus on the Pisgah Forest where much of the movie was filmed.

Good Fortune!

I have had the good fortune to spend some time in the woods in the past few weeks and it was amazing. I get to go on my children’s  end of year trips with their school. By the way they all 4 have attended Evergreen charter school and that is another blessing altogether. It is an ELOB (Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound School) charter and is an amazing learning environment here in Asheville. There is always a waiting list for students to get in. So much so that there is a group of parents and teachers that are going to start a sister school so there will be another ELOB school in Asheville to handle the demand. That gets me back to going on the end of year field trip with our youngest. I have been on this same trip with three of our 4 children and since this was with our youngest it may be the last time I make the trip to this particular area. I was standing in this beautiful mountain meadow enjoying the kids running around feeling the cool mountain air and enjoying the sunshine when it hit me. I will never do this again with this group of people under these circumstances. Sure I can always come back but it will never be the same. I will be ever grateful for the opportunity that I have had to have the memories of our kids growing up. Especially outside in the beautiful mountains that I am blessed to live in. We spent three days in the woods hiking looking at the wildlife and flowers and enjoying each others company. We had good food that I and other parents helped prepare with lots of help from the kids! There were about 40 kids and 11 adults on the trip and all of the children made a presentation as part of the trip. This was not just some camping trip it turned into an outdoor classroom and the kids did amazing jobs. They had to bring all the information on a subject, like energy conservation, the effects of mountain top removal, the life cycle of a mushroom and its uses and many others. They taught us what they knew and we had a short assignment where we wrote about what we learned. I am so glad at 51 I get to go back to school, even for a short three days and get to be a student and let a 10-year-old teach me. What good fortune!

Tara and I took off last Sunday and went to Bent Creek which is a forest about 10 minutes from The Pines Cottages. It must be the amount of rainfall and the mild temperatures we are having but in the 11 years I have lived here I have never seen the forest floor more beautiful than it is right now. There was a carpet of flowers of all shades and varieties. We must have spent the entire afternoon just walking and talking about everything and nothing. At one point we sat on a log on the edge of the stream and were looking back on the last 24 months and were overwhelmed with gratitude. I survived stage 4 cancer and am cancer free and am as good or better than I was before the cancer. It was a tough process and here I was after the chemo and radiation and hospital and cancer clinic and feeding tube and surgery sitting on a log enjoying life like nothing had happened. What good fortune!

I hope if this blog finds you and you decide to come visit these ancient mountains you will make some memories that you will carry with you for a lifetime. No matter where your travels take you I hope you find Good Fortune!


Spring Again

We have been working away. Cottage 8 is almost finished (I will post before and after pictures in separate post). We have also been painting picnic tables, the outside of the office (see below), and some days it seems that anything Raquel can reach with a paint brush is fair game.

Office's New Paint Job

I continue to work on the gardens, although not much was done through the winter and I am just recovering from a herniated disk so i feel impatient wanting to get into the gardens. I long for a team of enthusiastic landscape/horticulture students. If they exist, they probably don’t travel in packs.

They are disbursed throughout the property and all painted different colors matching the cottages.

They are disbursed throughout the property and all painted different colors matching the cottages.

Allen built, painted and installed some dog poop stations over the winter. They are little boxes with grocery bags so that guests can pick up after their pets. They are not quite complete in that they need little signs (my domain) and we are looking for metal waste baskets with lids that we can attach.

This idea was prompted after a not-very-nice review on Tripadvisor after some guests stepped in dog poop (while walking their dog), so rather than those industrial stations Allen created a solution that was a little more us.

I feel like I am forgetting the other things we did over the winter….we made Cottage #2 our only pet-free cottage and put a sofa bed in there.  Cottage #9 was remodeled in the fall. So we have now remodeled #2, #8, #9, #10 & #13 and they all look great and still each with our own personality.

Cottage #9 Remodel Slideshow

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We hope to see you soon.


Well here goes!

Well here goes… My first Blog. We have had an event full last two years. As some of you who have read the Blogs that Tara wrote earlier you know in April of 2010 I was diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer. Well I am about 26 months out from my last treatment and the Surgeon  at Duke assures me that he has never seen a recurrence of this type of cancer after this period of time so from here on out I am cancer free!

We have been busy here at The Pines. Even during my recuperation period I used the cottages as a way to rehab. There is a condition called chemo brain, well I’m here to tell you it’s real. The chemicals in the chemotherapy really diminished my brain function. But as long as I had a hammer and a saw in my hand or anything to do with physical labor I was good to go. I couldn’t do any paperwork or read very well for months but that is finally coming back. It is still more of a chore than a joy but hopefully given time the joy of reading will return.

I must say though even through the trials and tribulations of cancer and recovery we have made great strides here with the cottages and property. Tara and I have put in some very nice flower beds, really just reclaimed some beds that were in dire need of attention and I can’t wait to see how beautiful they will be come spring. We also had a vegetable garden this year. We started small and next year we hope to have a bit better results. It sure was nice having fresh tomatoes this year along with some other fresh veggies. The cottages are in terrific shape, although having a (house Farm) is always an ongoing proposition we completely up cycled 5 cottages this year. And when I say we up cycled 5 cottages we do all of the work ourselves with the help of one part time person, he is a very close friend that helps us out when we need him. I wish I could afford 5 guys like him we would be finished in a few weeks!  We refinished floors and painted everything inside and out new flooring in the bathrooms and even painted the kitchen floors. We found when we removed the old flooring in the kitchens there was beautiful Oak hardwood floors and we refinished them and they turned out beautiful. Also one of our friend’s works for a company that makes samples for a large flooring company and when they rotated their stock we were given several rolls of vinyl flooring perfect for the bathrooms. We are always looking for ways to use and reuse any building materials we can; there is no reason to go to Lowes every time we need something. We put in new windows and curtains and upgraded the insulation and Tara refinished the furniture and did the finishing touches with artwork and linens the places look amazing or as one of our customers say “Old School Awesome”.

Craigslist is my friend! I saw an ad on there for some doors that could be perfect for the cottages and they were from a period correct home in a nearby neighborhood. When I went to get the doors I told the nice lady what I was doing and she sold them to me for $10.00 for 8 doors. I was so happy to get them and she was happy that they went to a good home. Recently there was a building supply place nearby that had closed and they were liquidating all of their old stock and we got some terrific deals from the people that owned the place. We purchased enough shingles to redo at least three cottages for a song! There were moldings and lumber and windows and the deals were unbelievable! I am just glad it did not go to waste!

I the last few weeks we decided to replace our aging vacancy sign so I did some research on the internet on how to build a sign and went to our local metal recycling yard and found all the materials to build the frame for the sign and found the acrylic sheet from another deal I made and with the exceptions of the lights themselves I think I have a total of $8.00 in materials and about $60.00 for the lights and bulbs and stencils and spray cans for lettering that I had to buy. I love building things from up cycled materials I get a real sense of satisfaction that I did it myself and it saves resources and money.

Since we are pet friendly we decided to put in pet waste stations. I have just completed 6 new stations and painted them to match the cottages. They will be a nice addition to the property for our guest’s convenience and to keep the property clean.

Before winter is over I hope to remodel at least one more cottage and my next project are new signs at the entryway to match the new vacancy signs, I will follow up with pictures on that as we progress, the signs are also up cycled from a bank!

Thank you to all our loyal return customers and thank you for reading this Blog and I hope you make The Pines Cottages your choice of lodging while visiting Asheville.

More to come! We are excited about the current and future projects and will post about them as we move forward.

P.S. we know a great deal about the area please contact us so we can help plan your visit. We look forward to seeing you again or meeting you and your family and friends for the first time!