The Backstory on The Raleigh Bungalow in the Historic South Park Neighborhood: House Stalkers Episode Two

In Episode Two of the House Stalkers on YouTube, Heather and I explored parts of Raleigh, North Carolina's inner beltline area in downtown Raleigh. We originally wanted to stalk a home in the new Caraleigh Commons neighborhood off of Maywood Avenue, but that didn't work out because all homes in this new downtown neighborhood are custom, and a home was not far enough along in the construction process for us to view on our shooting day. We'll revisit these homes by CitySpace another time.

Not getting into a home didn't deter us from shooting that day. I suggested stalking some new construction about a mile down the road in Raleigh's historic South Park neighborhood.

White House

You can view the full seven-minute episode two: Downtown Bungalow: The House Stalkers on YouTube now.

This bungalow/modern farmhouse featured in the show sits on a historic downtown Raleigh street near Shaw University. Homes in this area in Raleigh are undergoing revitalization at a rapid pace. Home prices are increasing just as fast as the remodeling. The home featured in this episode had an asking price of $408,000 and was already under contract when we visited.

 Isabel Moss, a realtor with Fonville Morisey and also co-owner of Moss Construction and Design in Raleigh agreed to let us stalk impromptu and boy, are we glad. The original property on this corner lot was a duplex, built-in 1930.

The Before: raleigh duplex built in 1930:

Moss transformed the bungalow-style duplex into a 1400 square feet modern farmhouse with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The remodel also included a coveted carport.

modern farmhouse

remodel of home includes a carport

There were many things about this home that we loved. We saw the house empty, but it is even more quaint furnished.  Be sure to check out the show and see the tile in the bathroom.

living room of home and kitchen. Blue couch. Staged

This South Park home is very close to Transfer Food Hall at the corner of Davie and East Street in Downtown Raleigh. It was where we chose to dine for the lunch portion of the show to tie in the flavors of the neighborhood and tap into my OutaboutNC community on Instagram.  I love this new space in Raleigh. It houses twelve vendors in one gorgeous space. Housed in the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shop, it is a unique gathering place in Raleigh, where different communities can connect through food.  I've dined at Transfer Food Hall many times now, but for the show, we had Tuna Poke Bowls from Bul-Box.

Tuna Poke Bowl at Bul Box inside Transfer Food Hall

I've also dined at Locals Seafood and Dank Burrito plus had a visit to Burial Brewing. I highly recommend Transfer Food Hall as a place to visit when in Raleigh.

We're going to visit another Moss Construction and Design in show three in another part of Downtown Raleigh.  Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel Leigh Powell Hines and ring the bell so you will not miss it when we drop a new episode.

a white modern farmhouse

My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor, Flooring by Design, carpet installer in Raleigh.  The Flooring by Design team is ready to assist your home project to suit your lifestyle and budget.


A Travel with Purpose Idea: Bahamas Vacation #Ilovebahamas #BahamasStrong

In between carpool lines, cheer practice, and walking the dog, I start fantasizing about vacations as it gets colder and darker earlier in North Carolina.

Usually, my daydreams start with my picturing a quiet, tropical destination (even though I'm not really a sit-on-the beach type gal) where I see blue waters, white sandy beaches, and refreshing cocktail in my hand. My children are off splashing around because they are at a resort having fun. Will is happy because he paid for all food and drink in advance, so he doesn't have to tally up the food bill every time he charges it to the room. And I'm happy because I'm not doing laundry, or cooking a meal that no one wants to eat.

Ahh, glorious family vacations. Aren't they wonderful?

The truth is family vacations are usually a mess at cetain points when you are experiencing them with your kids. As parents, you probably stated at least one time on that vacation, "With that attitude, we won't be vacationing next year!"

But, you know that is not true. Once you get home, you will only remember the priceless vacation fun. That's what we do.

PLAN a Bahamas Vacation in 2020

As you start vacation planning or even fantasizing about destinations like I do, consider a Bahamas vacation. Hurricane Dorian, as a category five hurricane, was devastating. As someone who lives in a state where hurricanes are frequent, I know first-hand how devasting these storms can be for the economy and tourism in the areas that were hit. It's more important than ever to get those dollars flowing and to let people know that 14 islands are ready for visitors in the Bahamas. In this interactive  Bahama island finder, you can find the most perfect island to visit for your family.

map of the Bahamas with islands open
Photo courtesy of  Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation 

There are many places to donate dollars to help the area, but to choose to help the economy by planning and experiencing a vacation in the impacted area allows you to do even more for the area to help with recovery. From dining in local restaurants to local tour experiences, you are helping the area's economy. 

I traveled to Nassau in 2001 for a wedding with Will. We were not yet married, but Will told me that one night on the island, he wanted to " impromptu propose" to me because the setting was perfection. He, of course, had no ring plus it was someone else's' happy occasion, so he bit his lip and proposed a few months later instead while I was sick with a sinus infection, wearing a sweatshirt and watching Saturday Night Fever.  Maybe we should redo our experience. 

Leigh and Will in Nassau in 2001
July 2001 in Nassau, Bahamas

Eighteen years later, it's hard now to remember trips before kids. However, I remember we stayed an extra day so we could dine at the Graycliff Restaurant, an iconic five-star restaurant in a historic inn that is still in operation today. The base hotel for wedding guests was a Marriott resort, at the time, which I think could be the  Melia Nassau Beach now.

The Graycliff offers even more culinary adventures for travelers to experience.

  • Graycliff Chocolatier Factory – Located in the historic Graycliff Hotel, the Graycliff Chocolatier Factory is The Bahamas’ first interactive chocolate factory. From tasting tours to children’s activities, Graycliff Chocolatier offers something for everyone to experience chocolate in a new way. 
  • Graycliff Culinary Academy – The Graycliff Hotel is also home to the Graycliff Culinary Academy, where visitors can take interactive cooking classes with the hotel’s five-star restaurant’s Executive Chef Elijah Bowe and his team.

  • Graycliff Cigar Rolling – Vacationers can tour the award-winning Graycliff Cigar Company and even take a cigar-rolling lesson with one of the company’s 16 master rollers.

Baha Mar: Pack with Love Initiative 

White Sandy Beach and Gorgeous Baha Mar Resort Complex
Photo courtesy of Baha Mar Resort Media Office 

Baha Mar, developed a few years ago to revitalize the island's Cable Beach, houses three luxury resorts, including the Rosewood, SLS, and the Grand Hyatt. I always told myself that I would stay on Paradise Island when I went back to visit the Bahamas, but now, I'm not so sure. These resorts have my attention, and you all know this whole blog was started because of my hotel obsession.

Post-Hurricane Dorian, this Nassau resort, is offering the Pack with Love program where guests are encouraged to pack an item or two that symbolizes love and comfort for the victims. Articles can include clothing, stuffed animals, baby items, educational items, books, and small toys. Guests will have the opportunity to deliver their items directly to local shelters if they desire. There is also a collection on site. Baha Mar is also home to the Beach Sanctuary at Baha Mar, which is an experience that allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and the wildlife of the Bahamian Islands.

Man swimming with fish

Other resorts in the Bahamas are also offering special incentives to help you get there to visit and plan a vacation for all budgets.

If you would like to donate to the island's relief efforts, here is an approved list of  Hurricane Dorian relief agencies working with the tourism boards you can be confident your dollars are going to be used precisely as intended.

Bahamas Vacation Guide

Travel Sites to Help You Plan a Bahamas Vacation:

Official Nassau Paradise Island: The Bahamas
The Islands of the Bahamas: Official Site
Grand Bahama Island
The Out Islands of the Bahamas

Other Midlife Perspective Members Bahama Vacation Guides for Planning/Relief Donations

Discovering Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas
Travel to the Bahamas Now: #BahamasStrong and Relief Efforts
Bahamas Cruising
Bahamas Romantic Getaway for Two
7 Reasons to Visit Nassau Now

My thanks to Empire Chevrolet Buick in Wilkesboro, NC, for being an October HinesSightBlog sponsor. Empire Chevy Buick is the place to search for pre-owned certified vehicles. All vehicles undergo a 172-point vehicle inspection and a thorough reconditioning process.  My blog sponsors like Empire Chevy Buick keep me at my desk writing editorial content, house stalking on YouTube and OutaboutNC. 


Roasted Garlic and Anchovies Make NC Chef's Teddy Diggs Fall Radicchio Salad Recipe a Winner

When North Carolina Chef Teddy Diggs, owner of Coronato Pizza in Carrboro, gave me his recipe for radicchio salad with his homemade caesar salad to make at home, I had no idea that I would become such a big fan of anchovies.

Anchovies are the fish that make most people go, "Ewww!" But, the little fish has some big health benefits. In fact, I was not even sure if I had eaten anchovies before buying them for this recipe.

Radicchio Salad with Anchovy and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Chef Diggs whose accolades go from cooking at the White House to studying under Chefs in Italy to working in high-end hotels has brought Roman-style to pizza to the South. He doesn't serve pizza with anchovies on the menu, but his fall salad, dressed with roasted garlic and anchovy dressing will make you an anchovy lover, too. I promise.

Chef Teddy Diggs of Coronoto Pizza

I ran into Teddy and his family at the NCRLA Culinary Chef Showdown last week. I raved about my version of the salad. He told me that this salad will be part of his restaurant's fall menu because radicchio is in abundance this time of year. When I made the salad, I used romaine lettuce because I could not find radicchio in August. Chef Diggs told me that romaine or even tender kale were good home substitutes because, for the home chef,  radicchio is not always in your grocery store. The bitterness of the lettuce complements the saltiness and boldness of the anchovies and roasted garlic in the dressing.

Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Make an Italian Caesar Dressing. This salad is with romaine lettuce

Roasting the garlic is also key to give this salad dressing recipe with anchovies another dimension of flavor. He told me that many Caesar dressings use garlic, but it's typically fresh garlic cloves. He believes roasting the garlic enhances the flavor of this homemade caesar dressing even more.

Chef Diggs likes to use anchovies from Italy's Amalfi Coast packed in oil. You can use salted anchovies, but they will need to be rinsed for about twenty minutes before blending them into the dressing. I went to Whole Foods Prime to buy my anchovies. I could not find any from Italy so I put some from Spain in my cart, but in the end, when they arrived at home, my anchovies were substituted for Reese flat fillets of anchovies imported from Morocco. They worked and I loved the dressing. Chef Diggs recommends the Delfino brand.

anchovy fillets by Reese

Delfino Anchovy fillets from Amalfi Coast

This salad serves four, but I have to admit to you that I ate the entire salad for lunch. It was that good. I want to make it again with the radicchio for fall or better yet, maybe I should just go to Carrboro to Coronato Pizza instead.

radicchio salad with delfino anchovy fillets

Coronato Pizza's Fall Radicchio Salad with Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Dressing (The Better Caesar Dressing)

● 2 head of roasted garlic
● 6 filet oil-packed anchovy or 4 salted anchovies rinsed and soaked in water
● 1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnishing
● 1 egg yolks
● 1 1⁄2 cup blended oil (80 % olive oil/ 20% canola oil)
● 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
● 2 tablespoons lemon juice
● 1⁄4 cup water
● Kosher salt as needed
● 12 to 14 ounces radicchio (5 red-leaf endives, 3 long Treviso or 1 large round radicchio di Chioggia, or a
mixture), cored and cut in 1/2-inch-wide slivers, washed and dried
● Extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and 1⁄2 lemon as needed, for dressing the salad
Note: I substituted Romaine for Radicchio. Tender Kate is also a substitute

For the dressing:
Combine all roasted garlic cloves, anchovies, Parmigiano cheese, egg yolk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. While the food processor is running drizzle in the oil. The mixture will begin to emulsify and thicken. Use the water to adjust the consistency of the dressing as desired. Season with salt. Reserve the dressing until use.

For the salad:
Place the cleaned radicchio in a mixing bowl and spoon about a 1⁄2 cup of the dressing over the lettuce. Crack fresh black pepper over the bowl, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half of a lemon, or about 2 tablespoons. Mix ingredients together thoroughly.
Plate the dressed salad evenly between 5 plates and finish with finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor McNeill Nissan of Wilkesboro, NC 2020 Nissan Rogue.  The Nissan Rogue is awaiting your test drive at McNeill Nissan today. My blog sponsors keep me at my desk writing editorial content that I love to share and OutaboutNC. 


Do You Like To Look at Homes for Sale and Eat in Restaurants? Catch the Raleigh Area YouTube Show The House Stalkers

I have a new passion project for my fifties. Apparently, I do something new to help me cope with aging every decade. In my thirties, it was getting married and starting a family. In my forties, I started this blog. Now, I'm excited to say I'm vlogging and back on the small screen (where I feel most at home) with a YouTube Show, called The House Stalkers. This show is done in conjunction with  Raleigh realtor, Heather Petrovich, who is my witty co-host.

House Stalkers Host on Scene Shooting You Tube  Show

In the House Stalkers show, which is housed on my Leigh Powell Hines Channel, Heather and I stalk homes and visit local restaurants for lunch. You get a front-row seat on this house hunting journey and are invited to go along with us on the ride. The two of us have been friends for years and met when our children were toddlers. When Heather went back to work as a realtor, I messaged her and told her I was in the market for a home. You see, I was in the market for a home, but my husband was not in the market. She stalked homes with me for five years until we got my husband ready. Yes, you read that right. FIVE YEARS! The woman is a saint. Most people would have written me off as a nut who wasted their time.  During our house stalking period, we would look at homes about once a month and eat lunch. She finally sold me my dream home in downtown Raleigh a few years ago.  When I told her my YouTube show idea last year, she said a colorful word and declared she wanted to be the realtor who stalked homes with me. Now in 2019, we are stalking homes together again.  You can catch our first episode below. 

In our first episode, we visited the model home in the Olde Mill Trace neighborhood in Raleigh with new home builder, Stanley Martin Homes. This neighborhood is about ten minutes from downtown Raleigh. This lovely home design, called The Morgan II, is built in a community with larger lots than what is usually found in the city. The model home price for this Morgan II design starts around $550,000 for The entire Olde Mill Trace neighborhood currently has homes for sale from around $478,000 to $862,615.

The House Stalkers show has been in the works for over a year. We are concentrating on new construction in the Raleigh area currently so we can share new home trends.  As we move throughout the city, it will also give you an idea of price points in the Raleigh area. I think everyone is curious to see the types of homes on the market, and to realistically guess if the house we show is in their housing budget.

Inside a model home on The House  Stalkers

No doubt, I truly believe that North Carolina is a great place to live, and I think this show, and on our social media, you will get to see the charm of North Carolina's southern homes. I've been doing social media many months leading up to our show, and I think people are surprised at the cost of homes, especially around the area of downtown Raleigh.

As the founder of the OutaboutNC community on Instagram, I also wanted to tie in the local neighborhood flavor with this show. If I were in the market for a home in Raleigh,  I would want to know what restaurants are around where I plan to live.  In this Model Home episode, I take Heather to the locally-owned Manhattan Cafe on Wilmington Street in Downtown Raleigh.

fruit and turkey sandwich at Manhattan Cafe in  Raleigh, NC
Manhattan Cafe

This little family-owned restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. It's been a popular spot for downtown Raleigh workers since its opening in 2009 and has one of the largest salad bars in town.

This show is not about selling homes. By the time, our show may air, the homes we feature may already be sold, but rather, the show is about what life in Raleigh is like, and what type of home budget you need to have to live in certain areas of the county.

Heather and I have known each other for years, and I'm so glad she is helping me make this show a reality. I think she has as much fun as I do on our shoots.

The House Stalkers is on YouTube on Leigh Powell Hines Channel

My thanks to October blog sponsor CQC Home Raleigh -for keeping me at my desk writing and OutaboutNCCQC Home Raleigh is a home remodeling business in Raleigh and Durham that will deliver everything you need to help you transform your living spaces to meet your exact needs efficiently and on budget.


A Little Black Dress Worthy Dinner: Easy Baked Pork Tenderloin with a Dressy Salad Wedge Side

When entertaining, you want to serve a classic meal that fits perfectly with your little black dress hanging in your closet. Am I right?  You seek sophistication and elegance. You want your food to be as appealing as your elegant LBD. But, unless you are Martha Stewart or have all the time in the world to slave away in the kitchen, you need some serious shortcuts. I know I do. 

Enter stage right is the Little Black Dressing Company, #GotToBeNC made-product out of High Point, North Carolina. This company's homemade dressings will have you looking like a culinary superstar with little effort. I love them. 

Little Black Dressing Company has delicious NC Made Salad Dressings that are great for salads and recipes

North Carolina Bloggers throughout North Carolina were paired tin 2017 with North Carolina food products to help promote the annual Got to Be NC Festival, held in May. I was paired with Little Black Dressing Company to learn more about them. 

Founder Kissie Stroup said that her grandmother, now 94 and who is affectionally called, "Nana" made all of her own dressings from vegetables and herbs in her garden. Kissie said that their family would have some type of salad nightly with a fresh dressing on it. One of her grandmother's specialty dressing was a creamy vinegarette. 

Kissie Stroup, CEO and Founder of Little Black Dressing Company
Little Black Dressing Co CEO and Founder, Kissie Stroup

"Every time I made Nana's salad dressings, my friends would always want to know how to make it, " stated Stoup. "It got to the point that I was making it in my basement and people would come with their own jars to take some home." 

Her husband encouraged her to start a business making these dressings. She asked a friend to help her come up with a name for her dressing. They both agreed that her product was classic and elegant just like the little black dress, and in 2010, the classic Creamy Dreamy Vinegarette was bottled. 

It is excellent served with a salad, as a veggie dip or drizzled over cucumbers and tomatoes. Honestly, this is my favorite dressing, and in the privacy of my home, I'm not too proud to admit that I slurped the bowl after my salad was gone. It's that good, folks. 

Creamy Dreamy Vinagarette is delicious over tomatoes and cucumbers

Little Black Dressing Co later expanded its flavor wardrobe to include It Takes Three to Tango, a mixture of Blue Cheese crumbles, 1000 Island, and Ranch Dressing, Honey, It's Dijon Dill, and Far East Flair, a combination of orange juice, peanut butter, and zesty ginger. 

Each dressing is fresh with no preservatives, additives, or gluten. It can be found in the refrigerated section in Lowes Foods and Fresh Market. These dressings are so versatile and can be used for lots of recipes. 

As you know, I'm a storyteller and not a food stylist, but I made two recipes with the dressings and then used the dressings for salads until they were all gone. 

You cannot get any easier than with these two menu items. I found that pork is great to use with a honey dijon base so for this recipe, I paired it with Kissie's Honey, It's Dijon Dill dressing, but you could use another type of honey dijon dressing, but I encourage you to seek out this homemade dijon salad dressing. It can be bought in the U.S now in several states

Easy Baked Pork Tenderloin and a Dressy Salad Wedge Recipe for Pinterest Graphic

Easy Baked Pork Tenderloin served with a Dressy Salad Wedge

Easy Baked Pork Tenderloin 
2 Pound Pork Tenderloin
Salt and Pepper
One bottle of Honey, It's Dijon Dill Dressing or any Honey Dijon Dressing of your choice

Season tenderloin with salt, pepper, and garlic. Pour half a bottle of the salad dressing over the pork. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. The temperature needs to reach 160 degrees. 

Easy Baked Tenderloin Recipe

I used Honey, it's Dijon Dill Dressing and served it with rice and spicy collards.

Dressy Salad Wedge

Iceberg lettuce
Salt and Pepper
Extra blue cheese crumbles, optional 
It Takes Three to Tango Salad Dressing

Cut lettuce into a wedge, top with bacon pieces, salt, pepper and drizzle with the salad dressing.  Simple and delicious.

It Take Three to Tango Dressing is Perfect for a Lettuce Wedge with Bacon

I served the pork tenderloin with rice and farm-fresh spiced collards. 

I made these dishes on a busy weeknight for my family, but these salad dressings make every meal at your home little black dress worthy. 

 Other Recipes: Got to be NC Blogger Recipes for #HomeGrownFare17

Updated: September 2019
2017 FTC Disclosure: Sponsored by NCDA &CA. Opinions about whether or not to slurp your salad dressing bowl to get the last taste are not up for debate. When you taste the dressing, I promise you, all table manners are forgotten. You will want every last drop of that Creamy Dreamy Vinegarette. I believe it when Kissy said people showed up with gallon jugs. The dressing is $4.99 a bottle. 


Asheville’s Biltmore Estate is a Must-See for “Downton Abbey” Fans (New Exhibition will Run Nov.8-April 7, 2020)

I was a big fan of the PBS show "Downton Abbey."  I've not yet seen the movie that debuted this September in theaters, but I'm certainly going to put the new "Downton Abbey" exhibit on my travel wish list to see in Asheville, North Carolina.

Opening on November 8 and running through April 7, 2020, Downton Abbey The Exhibition will feature set recreations, costumes, and exclusive multimedia elements, providing guests with a chance to step inside the world of Carnival Films’ global television phenomenon and feature film

At Biltmore’s Amherst near Deerpark, never-before-seen multimedia elements and the series’ most recognizable sets and artifacts will immerse guests in the social history, culture and memorable moments from the show. At Biltmore Legacy in Antler Village, guests will get an up-close look at more than 50 of the show’s costumes that were worn by their favorite actors including Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, and Dame Maggie Smith.

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. is America's "Downton Abbey."

Once I immersed myself in the "Downton Abbey" series, it made me even more captivated by the Biltmore Estate, I grew up visiting as a child. 

George Vanderbilt and his family lived on this estate during the same time period as the Crawley family portrayed in “Downton Abbey.”  As I went through the house, I could imagine the inner workings of the house just like I see on TV with the popular series.

George and Edith Vanderbilt welcomed guests from all over the world to their home, Biltmore.  Set on 8,000 acres and situated on the bank of Asheville’s meandering French Broad River, the 250-room French chateau is magnificent.  It would take guests one hour by carriage as soon as they went through the Estate’s gate to reach the front door.

Biltmore's main entrance

Can’t you imagine all the servants coming out to welcome guests on arrival just like on “Downton Abbey”?

George Vanderbilt provided a resort-like atmosphere for his guests.   There was horseback riding, shooting, bowling alleys, and even a 70,000-gallon, heated indoor swimming pool with underwater lighting. Guests could ring the servants for a pool-time snack.

The Biltmore's indoor swimming pool

Tea was served around 4 p.m., and a formal, white-tie dinner was served promptly at 8 p.m. in the banquet hall.  It was not uncommon for there to be nine to ten courses served each evening.  They were small portions, of course, but still, I cannot even imagine a dinner so formal today.  The Vanderbilts would have a family breakfast in this lovely room. It is one of my favorite places in the home. 

The Breakfast Room in the Biltmore House. I love the fireplace.

And get this. It was not uncommon for the Vanderbilts and their guests to change 10 times a day.  I’m serious.  There was an outfit for breakfast, riding, shooting, tennis, croquet, tea, swimming, fishing, boating, bowling, and dinner. No wonder they needed a valet. 

The servants were certainly kept busy. 

The Biltmore kitchen.  The Biltmore Estate did not have a Mrs. Patmore though. The main chef was male. His room was
near the bowling alley, and if guests kept him up late because of their bowling, then they would know it the next morning by the mediocre breakfast they were served.

Biltmore offers special guided tours that take guests unrestored rooms and mechanical areas to see how the house functioned daily. Guests also learn about the work of the domestic servants who worked for the Vanderbilts.

The Vanderbilts provided living quarters for their staff.  Females stayed in the house, while male employees stayed in rooms above the stable. At Biltmore, each servant had a comfortably furnished, heated private room, and that was most uncommon for the time period.  As many as 30-35 servants had three meals a day in the servants’ dining room.

The servant's dining room.  Imagine the gossip.

They were allowed two hours off daily, but still on call. They received one afternoon and one evening off per week, and a half-day every other Sunday.

I imagine George Vanderbilt to have been kind like Lord Grantham is portrayed on the series.  On the audio tour, it said that a girl in a role similar to Daisy on the series had to go up to the dining room, and she was so nervous that she dropped the dish on the floor.  It was revealed that Mr. Vanderbilt got up and helped her clean the mess off the floor. 

The Servant’s Domain area is a very interesting part of the house tour. 

Mr.  Vanderbilt's bedroom.  Today, the  Inn on the estate uses burgundy as an accent color in the rooms.


This year, the Christmas season at Biltmore will also feature the "Downton Abbey" exhibit. 

Visit the Biltmore Estate and Explore Asheville for your vacation planning tips. 

The  Biltmore Estate In Asheville, NC can be compared to "Downton Abbey"

Other posts on Asheville, NC that you may enjoy:

My thanks to Turnkey Photographer in Raleigh, NC, for being a September blog sponsor. My sponsors keep me at my desk writing and #OutaboutNC promoting travel and tourism. 


Create an Elegant, but Easy Cheese and Meat Board in Minutes

updated September 2019

My neighbor loves Halloween so much that she coordinated a progressive fall-inspired dinner party for our street. I volunteered to host appetizers. My goal was to keep it simple and look to Italy and Spain for inspiration on an elegant, but easy cheese and meat board that could be put together in minutes. 

In 2015, I went on a press trip to a winery in the Marche region of Italy. The event set-up was simple, elegant, and perfect for tapas before a meal. I decided to do something similar with my own spin for this neighborhood get-together. 

Italian appetizer spread at Marche Winery

Liza loves Disney's Descendants movies.  Last year, she knew she wanted to be the character, Mal, for Halloween. In my house, the song, "Ways to Be Wicked" is continuously played.  I decided to have a little fun with a "Ways to be Wicked" song. The lyrics say, 

"Apple, apple dip, dip
Wanna try it?

Tick, tick

Take a bite, c'mon, be bold
Change the way the story's told."

Descendants. Apples. Villians. Evil Queen. It all fell into place.

Evil Queen Costume with apples as the star of the party.

I used fresh apples for my centerpiece decorations, and the fall fruit is in season right now. An apple, from tart to sweet, goes wonderfully with an Italian-inspired meat and cheese board.

Put together meat and cheese boards within minutes

I ordered apples from my Papa Spud's produce box delivery service. Apples were in abundance and cost-effective. I purchased everything else from Trader Joe's in less than an hour. 

Here's what I bought at Trader Joe's for my "Ways to Be Wicked" Inspired Party
Sparkling Apple Cider (non-alcoholic)
Draft Apple Cider
White wine
Bread Sticks
Several types of crackers
Goat Cheese with Herbs
A Spanish Cheese sampler with Manchego, Iberico, and Cabra Al Vino
Sliced Aged Cheddar Cheese
Two varieties of pears (One sweet and one standard pear)
Several cartons of the store's seasonal Greek Yogurt called, "Trader Joe's Apple-Caramel Whole Milk Greek Yogurt." 
Dried Apricots
Organic Trek Mix with Cashews, Almonds and dried Cranberries
Italian Hard Salami 
Two appetizer snack packs with Genoa salami cut like apple shapes and provolone slices. 
Red Grapes

I have two cheese boards that are simple and look like cutting boards. I also used three small glass dishes to hold olives, nuts in trek mix, and dried apricots. 

Add sweet and salty to your cheese boards

I placed the four kinds of cheese on the cheese first. I used the goat cheese on another platter separately with crackers, pears, and apples. For my hard cheese platter, I placed my nut bowl and my dried apricot bowl on the board. I put a few sliced apples on the tray, crackers, and red grapes for garnish. Presto. The cheese board was filled in no-time. 

On a round cheese board, I placed olives in a bowl in the middle. I then surrounded the olives with crackers, cheese, genoa salami, and hard salami slices. 

For my third platter, I took the olive oil appetizer breadsticks and wrapped Prosciutto around each one. I used apples and grapes for garnish. 

Italian prosciutto wrapped around breadsticks can be put together within minutes for party

I was amazed at how quickly I was able to create these elegant but a simple cheese and meat tray for this party in minutes. I think the total time may have been 15 minutes for all the three trays. 

I used the Apple-Caramel Grek yogurt dip with and apple slices. 

I really thought this was a no-fuss party idea and I will do it again. It did not take a lot of work, but yet, it looked like it did.  The hit of the night was the yogurt dip and the soft goat cheese. It all worked well because I had meat-eaters and vegetarians in attendance. 

Another neighbor served lasagna after my get-together, and my other neighbor served a homemade limoncello cake. It was a great night.

Quick and Easy Meat and Cheese appetizer trays that can be put together within minutes. #Appetizers #Easy #Cheese #Antipasti

Pin for a future Halloween Party Idea 

Ways to be Wicked Inspired Halloween Party with apples as the star. Evil Queen is the host. #Halloween #apples #Easy #Appetizers

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