Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Orchards in Hendersonville, NC: Sky Top and Jeter Mountain

Why hello!! It's me! And wow, it's been A WHILE. Instagram has basically become my blog, but I wanted to share a little about our adventure last weekend because I've had a few people ask about the orchards around Asheville. I did as much research as I could for a year leading up to our trip and screenshot Insta stories from everyone I knew going to the mountains last year haha!
We spent last weekend at an Airbnb in Asheville, and it was beautiful! We had a fire put for s'mores and beautiful views of the mountains around us. Plus, it was into the 40s every night, so we slept (and froze) with the windows open.
So, there aren't any apple orchards in Asheville, but Henderson County (about an hour south) is the largest apple-producing county in North Carolina. We chose to visit an orchard on our way in on Thursday afternoon and a second on our way out of town on Sunday morning. Obviously visiting one on a weekday and one on a weekend, it's not comparing apples to apples (pun maybe intended?), but I think the information is still valuable!

On Thursday afternoon, we got to Sky Top around 3pm. They're open daily 9am-6pm, and it's quite a windy road up to the orchard. You walk into a rustic, dusty concrete floor, high ceiling barn where you can buy bagged apples, cider, cider slushies (Calvin's favorite), cans of hard cider you can carry around the property, pies, jams and butters, and tickets for apple picking, donuts, and all the other activities.
What struck me were all the well-labeled signs of where to line up for cash registers, donuts, and tractor rides. None of those signs were needed on Thursday, and so many people kept commenting about how few people were there, so I think got really lucky with our choice of day. 

We decided to pick apples first. We walked down the hill with our slushies to the start of the orchard where an employee directed us to the apples we wanted to pick. Just FYI you aren't allowed into the orchards unless you pay for a $25 bag to u-pick as many apples as you can fit. Phew! It was a hike! Up and down hills out to the far end of the orchard. We could pick anywhere we wanted to pick, and there were a ton of apples both on the trees and the ground. We picked a bunch of apples and headed back up the hill to meet our friends and try the other activities. 
The tractor ride is just for fun (rides in a loop without stops in the orchard), and there's also a bee (barrel) train that does a few loops. There's also a playground, gem mining, and an apple cannon. 
Before we left, we made sure to get apple cider donuts (apparently that line is wild on the weekends) and a caramel apple for the road. 

All in all, I'd call Sky Top a very fun, kid-centered, rustic orchard. 

We spent the next 3 days in Asheville making s'mores, hiking, and visiting breweries (a few favorites listed at the bottom of this post). 

On Sunday morning, we left our Airbnb and headed back to Hendersonville for Jeter Mountain Farm. They're only open Thursday and Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm, and I had heard it gets BUSY. We got there at about 10:30 and were about the 30th car there. 

My first impression was just WOW. The whole facility is brand new with high ceilings, stone exteriors, and wooden interiors. There are separate spaces for the cidery, coffee shop, market (gift shop), donut window, and there's even a permanent barbecue truck up the hill. 
After a cider slushie and some hot donuts, we got in line to pay for apples and a hayride. Jeter was $29 for apple picking, which included a basket to keep and a ride out to the orchard. (To compare the two, Sky Top picking was $25, and the tractor ride around the property was $3 per person, so Jeter was slightly less expensive and you didn't have to hike out to the fields.) 

The line to pay and for the tractor only took a few minutes each, and the ride out to the orchard was beautiful, through grapevines, blackberries, and many other crops. 
When we got off the tractor, we were greeted by another employee who told us where to pick and what kinds of apples were available. While the orchards were much more manicured, the area to pick was much smaller than Sky Top. There were ropes blocking you off from many of the rows, and while there were a few rows for each type of apple, only a few trees still had apples, so people were all congregating around them. (Yes, I did my best in my photos to make it look like we were the only ones there haha.)
After a full basket of apples, we took a tractor ride back and shopped around the market before getting a flight of cider to enjoy while Calvin played in the playground space. 
We really enjoyed both orchards and would definitely go back to both. But now, the superlatives in case you want to plan your own trip:
  • Better apple picking: Tie (walk out on your own to a wide open, go-wherever-you-want experience at Sky Top versus tractor ride to a very controlled and people-filled but well manicured orchard at Jeter)
  • Better apples: Tie (I swear this is the last tie haha)
  • Better cider (and slushies): Sky Top
  • Better hard cider: Jeter (get a flight!)
  • Better cider donuts: Sky Top
  • Better market: Sky Top (apple butter and caramel apples - yum!)
  • Better selection of food: Jeter (Sky Top didn't have a meal option)
  • Better hayride: Jeter
  • Better playground: Jeter
  • Better other activities: Sky Top 
  • Better photo ops: Jeter
And if you're looking for other Asheville things to do, we really enjoyed: walk around Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary (stroller-friendly), all the animals at WNC Nature Center, beers at Burial Beer Co and Whistle Hop (it's train-themed), and frozen custard sandwiches at Whit's.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Calvin's Playroom Reveal

This project has been a dream come true.  Our house has a loft space upstairs that we had previously used as a catch-all for everything we didn't have space for in our downstairs living room.  After Calvin was born, we starting spending time up there in the mornings (it's right outside his room), and he just loved it.  At the beginning of the pandemic, I started taking screenshots of spaces I loved and collecting art/items for what I deemed my "functional gallery wall."

I've always loved keeping Calvin's toys organized (here's my post from his first year of toys and organization), but this is was needed quickly as he got bigger and his toys got bigger.  Below are a whole bunch of photos and at the bottom of this post, I've linked everything I can think of from each little space.  If I missed something and you want a link (nothing is affiliate or sponsored - just want to share what I love) - just email or leave a comment!
Here's the BEFORE:
And the AFTER:
One of my favorite spaces is this little book nook area.  I love switching out the bookshelves in Calvin's room every month, and now I have another space to share seasonal favorites.  Plus, a festive felt ball garland is now my monthly go-to.
Looking back to the other side of the room, you can see the "functional gallery wall" on the left and my absolutely NOT Montessori-style toy storage.  While it's not perfect, everything has a space (so I can clean up in 5 minutes or less), it allows Calvin to make his own choices about what to play with, and it's off in the corner, so he grabs what he wants and comes back to the middle of the room to play.  You'll also see the door to our upstairs porch next to the organization, and Calvin loves playing out there with his toys (and looking at the garbage trucks and buses in the mornings).
And lastly, a close-up look of that gallery wall.  I'm still looking to add more to it, but for now, it's perfect.  I'm so happy with how much Calvin loves his dollhouse, and even though I haven't found any dolls for him yet (IKEA only sells the furniture for it haha), he LOVES putting his lovey sloth to bed in the little bed and play with him in there.  It has given him so many ideas for pretend, open-ended play.
Here are all the product links (mostly from Amazon, Target, and IKEA):

Gallery wall:
Dinosaur letterboard ||| Clothespin photo frame ||| Dollhouse ||| Dollhouse furniture ||| Rainbow yarn & wood sign ||| Custom woven wall hanging ||| Clock ||| Basketball hoop ||| Calvin map made by a neighbor

Pom pom pillow from Target dollar section

Train table hand-me-down from a neighbor (similar)

Book nook:
Bookshelves (are spice racks!) ||| Floating circle shelves ||| Rainbow inauguration print ||| Set of 3 mini photo frames ||| Pom pom garland ||| Stuffed animal storage bean bag - yes, that striped thing is filled with stuffies!

Toy organization: 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Calvin's Favorite Toys: Year One

Why, hello, blogging world!  I have been working on this post for a while (Calvin is 20 months now hahaha), and I finally found enough links and photos to share it with all of you.  I thought some fellow mamas might enjoy a list of all of Calvin's favorite toys.  

First and foremost, our absolute favorite toys are his Lovevery boxes.  He has a subscription where he received a box of Montessori-style toys every 2 months for the first year (and every 3 months now), and they are amazing.  They are all developmentally perfect, but that being said, he also goes back to many of the "younger" toys quite frequently.  FYI, nothing in this post is sponsored nor do I use any affiliate links, but if you'd like to subscribe to Lovevery, you and I can both get $20 off our next order (if you're a first-time subscriber) with my referral link.  Email me at meg.borrowedheaven@gmail.com if you'd like my code!  Thanks, friends!
Other than the boxes, almost literally every single other toy below was gifted to us or suggested by another mama.  Moms really do know what they're talking about - haha!  We have A. Lot. Of. Toys, and we use Montessori-style toy rotation so that Calvin really enjoys and engages with all of his toys.  We have a toy space up in our loft, and a second space in our downstairs living room.  Every Sunday night, I pull everything he had the previous week and replace it with new items.  On average, he has about 8-10 toys in a play space, and I try to always make sure there's something in each of these categories: a puzzle, something musical, something with wheels (his favorite category haha), something to stack, something to sort, a set of blocks, something that makes noise (electronic), and books.  
We started this at about 9 months, when he started being able to crawl around, and before that, we had little baskets of toys around his activity mat.  He used to love pulling toys out of the basket!
The one thing you won't really see in this post are books.  I started doing books and toys together, and I can't even tell you how long this post got.  The book post will be separate soon eventually.

Here we go:

Let's start with the big things... I highly suggest looking on Facebook marketplace for all of these.  They can be pricey, but we got many of them from neighbors!

Now the little things (mostly listed by starting age)...
  • OBall rattle - 1 month to 10 months (favorite on the changing table)
  • Stacking cups - 6 months on
  • Dragon WubbaNub - 6 months - 1 year (we quickly learned that we were overwhelming Calvin with too many toys in the car, so we gave him this one pacifier, and he was easily entertained)
  • Melissa & Doug puzzles: peg, hide and seek, and chunky wooden puzzles - 7 months on (these really helped with his fine motor skills early on)
  • Little Tikes golf set - 9 months on (he learned to "throw" around 9 months and loves to play catch together)
That's it!  I've started thinking about his favorite toys now (at 16 months.... edit: ooof I started writing this post 4 months ago haha), so I'll be sure to do another post like this around the 2 year mark!

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