A Compendium of People, Places, Things and Events that are inspiring me right now:

1) Asheville Grown

This now-ubiquitous image is the work of the Asheville Grown Business alliance, an organization directed by Franzi Cheren (co-owner of Hip Replacements on Lexington) whose mission is to increase awareness of the positive impact on communities when we choose to spend our dollars at locally-owned businesses. From their FaceBook page:

Asheville Grown Business Alliance is a grassroots organization whose mission is to support independently owned businesses in the community, to continue growing a vibrant local economy while preserving the unique character of Asheville and to educate consumers on the critical importance of thinking locally first when considering the impact of national and global chains.

You can learn more, and buy the t-shirts, here.

2) The Sloppy Joe Circus

Many of the performers in the Sloppy Joe Circus are artists who have been honing their funny craft in a very serious way for many years now; from trapeze to accordion, clowning and miming and vaudeville and juggling and more. It’s nothing short of DIY magic, and it reminds me that one of the best things about being in my 30s is getting to watch as my friends, each in different ways, get REALLY, authentically, magically good at what they do.

Also from FaceBook:

Asheville’s own Runaway Circus will be presenting their 4th annual winter circus at the W.C. Reid Center for Creative Arts. This year, Runaway Circus is drawing on memories most everyone will understand….Middle School. Dubbed The Sloppy Joe Circus, the event will use acrobatics, juggling, clowning/slapstick, hula hooping, trapeze, a live band, and many other talents to explore the various cliques, eccentric teachers, and awkward social exchanges that define those wondrous years.

Dates and Times:
Fri. March 19th at 8pm
Sat. March 20th at 8pm
Sun. March 21st at 2pm
Fri. March 26th at 8pm
Sat. March 27th at 8pm
Sun. March 28th – 1pm parade starting at French Broad Food Co-op and 2pm show

Tickets are available at the door for a $10 suggested donation, but in line with the troupe’s belief of providing affordable, quality entertainment to the community, nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. Additionally, half of all proceeds from the March 21st show will go to support other local, non-profit organizations.

The Runaway Circus & the Loose Cabooses is a not-for-profit group based in Asheville, NC. Their mission is to entertain and inspire the community with their breathtaking performances. With extraordinary feats of acrobatics, juggling, slapstick, and musical talent, they are sure to leave any spectator with their jaw dropped and their stomach aching from laughter.

This is the last weekend, so check it out if you can. Also, tonight’s (Saturday’s) and tomorrow’s shows feature “The Fascinating World of Mammalian Lactation,” a pre-show by Julie and Nathanael!

3) Congratulations to Chef Shannon Ginn!

This Spring, Shannon (who has been a part of the Cake Shop since she interned here last summer) graduates with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. Thursday’s Capstone was a showcase of the skills that the students acquired over the course of their studies. Shannon’s Dr. Seuss themed display featured the many talents she has cultivated: breads, tortes, occasion cakes, truffles, petit fours, and many more. Congratulations, Shannon! We love you and we’re so proud of you!

4) The Paraplegic Chef and Tattoos and Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak about my experience in starting my business at the YWCA Tribute to Women of Influence Reception, due to the fact that the free drop-in childcare for women in transition was a critical stepping stone for me to be able to finish my Mountain Bizworks class, and consequently my business plan. I will be forever grateful to the YWCA for helping me on my path to being economically independent, and am always happy and proud to be their poster child. The event was an amazing and humbling opportunity for me to stand before a group of incredibly accomplished women, and many of the recipients of the award are women I already know and respect in the community, and many were new to me. One of the recipients, Megan McCauley,

and her partner, Shannon,
were particularly inspiring. Megan is a chef who broke her back in an accident at age 22, and is now in a wheelchair. She has continued to hone her culinary craft and her love of sports, and is now helping newly paraplegic people to learn how to cook adaptively, has an awesome food blog, The Paraplegic Chef, and is seeking donations and sponsors for her 3-day, 180-mile hand cycling ride from Charlotte, NC to Myrtle Beach, SC. The fundraiser benefits the Adaptive Sports and Adventure Program of Carolina’s Rehabilitation- offering low-cost programs for youth and adults with physical challenges. Megan’s partner Shannon’s blog, Tattoos and Cupcakes, is a visual feast of photography, craftiness, cakeyness, wittiness, and love. These girls are young, fierce and BADASS. I was glad to have met them and can’t wait to see what they’ll do next! Rock on, Shannon and Megan!

5) Build a Birdhouse for the Bountiful Cities Project!

May 1st is the deadline for entries of birdhouses, birdbaths, bat-houses, and yard art for BCP’s 8th annual Birdhouse Auction. The event this year takes place on May 15th at Christopher’s Garden in East-West Asheville (the beautiful garden on the corner behind the Rocket Club) and will be emceed by Jen Lauzon of LaZoom Tours! This is a super-fun fundraiser that helps us pay for the community garden spaces that the organization owns and holds in trust for the community, and supports the work of Urban Agriculture in Asheville, our Strong Roots Youth Programs, and the creation of new and exciting Food Security initiatives.
Birdhouses can be dropped off at the Cake Shop or at Honeypot on Lexington Avenue, Downtown.

6) Pilgrim!

Sweet friend Jaye Bartell releases his new EP, Dog’s Dinner, tonight in Buffalo, NY, is having a show at Static Age records on April 1st, along with Tartufi and Judas Horse, and will be having the Asheville Dog’s Dinner EP Release on April 15th at LAB. Jaye makes beautiful music, sometimes alone, often with others. His music breaks my heart, in a good way. And he’s another friend who I’ve been lucky enough to see develop artistically through the years- totally inspiring.

7) Edible Books!

8) Cupcakes for Cures!

Cupcakes for Cures is Asheville’s Cupcake Faceoff created a group of cupcake loving, cancer fighting Ashevilleans.
Professional bakers, amateur bakers and youth bakers compete for bragging rights and fantastic prizes all while raising funds to find cures for cancer. Bakers can enter multiple culinary creations in true Asheville categories like Best Beer Cupcake, Best Gluten-Free Cupcake, Best Holiday and Special Occasion Cupcake, Best Birthday Cupcake and Best Local Foods Cupcake.

Oh, Yes.

OK, thus concludes the whirlwind. We’ve got lots to look forward to and lots to be grateful for! Thank you, Asheville! Thank you, Friends! Thank you, especially, SPRING! Stay tuned for next week’s big news: The New Short Street Cakes Menu! drops on April 7th. Hell Yes.