Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thank You Asheville 2008

Well here it is the last day of 2008. This was my first full year of living in Asheville. It was an ubergreat year for me and I would like to say "Thanks!" to everyone and everything here in Asheville that made my year so wonderful.

To John for sharing this great place with me.
To Christine Kane for writing such a beautiful song.
To Asheville for showing me how to be real.
To Terry, Zach, Kelcie, Jake and everyone at the Rootbar for soooo many great memories and taking in 2 escapees from Fla (yikes!).
To all the breweries in Asheville for putting out great beer.
To Pisgah Brewing for your Endless Summer. I LOVE your beer.
To the farmers in our area for providing us with tasty, organic, wholesome food.
To Asheville for voting Obama and helping in turning North Carolina blue!
To all those that spent countless hours standing up against Parkside. You are what makes Asheville so special.
To all the Asheville bloggers for keeping me up on current events and happenings in Asheville.
To Now You See Them for always putting on a great show. I love your energy and your music and Diesel!
To Nikki Talley for playing 3 straight hours at The Beacon Pub.
To bus 29, for all the rides into and back from town.
To the waitresses at Cornerstones (especially Megan) who make our Sunday morning breakfasts so enjoyable.
To East Village Grill for your food and being so great with my Mom.
To Newbridge produce stand. Thank you for your great selection and always friendly welcome.
To Asheville Pizza and Brew for providing such a great place to see a movie.
To The Fine Arts Theatre, ditto.
To the mountains, woods and rivers for providing us with so much beauty.
To the turkeys roaming around who always make me smile.
To the black bear. You were awesome.
To our house (a very, very, very fine house!) for taking in all our friends and family over the year who have come to visit us and play some Rootball.

To Asheville, I love you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

C.A.R.P. - A shout out for The Rootbar

Over at BlogAsheville, they came up with C.A.R.P. (Crappy Assets Relief Program). In doing my part as an Asheville blogger, I am going to showcase The Rootbar. It is my favorite place to go and hang out. I think that between dealing with this mess of an economy and the holiday season, everyone could use a break and listen to some good music while drinking a brew.
The Rootbar is located on Tunnel Road just off exit 55 on I-40. Most nights there is live music from our great local bands. The Rootbar serves only beer but their selection is fantastic and you can get many of our great local brews on tap. Out back are the Rootball courts. Ahh, rootball! If you have never heard of rootball, it is a game played on sand courts with a plastic disk, called the root and a plastic spikey ball. Like horseshoes, but better. The courts are always open, although this time of year it is a bit chilly out there, and you can always find someone willing to explain the rules. This place is full of friendly people. 
So if you're in the east Asheville area, bring your dog and have a brew. Terri (the owner) and Vinnie (her ubercool dog!)  will be happy to have you come and hang out.

Buy Local

To those of you who live here in Asheville, I'm sure you have seen the "Buy Local" bumper stickers. Buying local is a big part of this town. We have so many great artists, shops, restaurants and breweries. The good people of Asheville know the importance of buying local. Two great articles in Mountain Xpress by Dan Clere, "Why Buy Local?" and Edgy Mama, "Buying local for your kids" highlight the positives of buying local. So before you head out to the mall for all that holiday shopping,  think instead of finding those great local shops. 
I know here in Asheville anything I could get at a mall store I can find at a locally owned business. Clothes, jewelry, chocolates, books, computers, you name it. I have friends and family that love getting "anything Asheville". Not only can I get something unique to Asheville, my dollars stay in Asheville, I'm helping out a neighbor and I get to meet new people who will remember me when I come back in. 
So think local. Support your community and neighbors.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Reformed Miller-Lite Drinker in Asheville

I confess. I grew up drinking Miller-Lite. Its just what my friends and I drank. That is up until a year and a half ago when I moved to Asheville. I am born again. Not in the religious sense although I think beer drinking here in Asheville is rather spiritual and moving. Nope, I have discovered the local Asheville beer scene. Between the local music scene and the local breweries, I think I have died and gone to heaven.
My husband and I are into all things local. We love everything Asheville has to offer. Especially the breweries. Asheville has become one of the premier spots in the south for craft brews. So we started to sample the beers. Being from an American Pilsner background, I have gravitated towards the Goldens/Blondes/Pilsners. First it was French Broad's Goldenrod Pilsner, then Pisgah's Endless Summer, the Asheville Pizza and Brew's Rocket Girl and the Wedge's Pilsner. All great beers but I CRAVE Pisgah's Endless Summer. My drink of choice every Saturday night when we go out.
I was thinking the other day that although I love the local brews, I have pretty much stuck with these beers. What kind of fan of the breweries am I if I don't expand my horizons and try the other styles of beer? So Saturday night I had my first Cold Mountain from Highland Brewing. Pretty good stuff. Not a beer I could drink all night but I found myself ordering another one Sunday evening. My husband has been trying the IPA's and they are very tasty indeed.
I have known people who are wine connoisseurs. I think I would someday like to be an Asheville beer connoisseur. That would be pretty cool. So I am starting my Asheville Beer education. Every week I will try a different brew from one of the local breweries. Anybody have any suggestions of what I should try next?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Dog Rocks!

This is Jack.
Yes, he rocks. JJ Big Paws has 4 new designs for the dog and cat lover. I'll update this blog with the new designs but you can see them now at JJ Big Paws.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Its the day before election day. If you haven't voted yet, maybe this will make you get to that voting booth:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


This is close to my heart.
How many people do you know that are on that "track" and can't stop just for a few minutes to take the time to make informed decisions? Society is fast moving. People don't have time to read the newspaper, read a book, enjoy a home cooked meal, talk with friends. We're too busy putting in extra hours at work to make more money, completing all those home projects, trying to get enough sleep. So that lifestyle makes it real easy to go along with everyone else, believe what we're told instead of thinking for ourselves. Not being aware of what is happening around us, to us and because of us. To make our own decisions requires time to study and look into our own beliefs.
There is a pretty big election coming up. You'll hear colorful sound bites from both parties. Some true, some not so true. But repeated enough and it seems to become truth even if it isn't.   Although I could give you my informed opinion on who I think should be the next president, more importantly, YOU should take the time to understand the issues, how do they align with your beliefs, research the canidates, find objective information. 
Because on the night of November 4th, wouldn't you rather know that the next president was elected because we took the time to objectively look at the facts and based our vote on our own beliefs other than basing our vote on sound bites?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Its That Time Again

So we used to live in Florida. Yes I know, we are "those" people who moved up here to torment you long standing citizens of Asheville. Trust me, we're not all bad. Actually we have several people here in Asheville that really like us. We sure like Asheville. Anyways, I still work for the same company I did when I lived in Florida. A friend of mine at work, who we call the company meteorologist, sends out hurricane updates. She's a hoot. So for the past week I have been getting updates on Gustav and Hanna. Oh the memories...
The year before we moved we were hit with Hurricane Wilma. Category 3 when it hit us. Not fun and quite scary. We didn't have power for 12 days. We actually came up here to Asheville a week into it just to get away and remember how nice it is to turn on a switch and have light. I don't miss hurricane season in Florida. It used to be kinda neat when hurricane season came around and you watched the tracks of hurricanes and hoped that the company would shut down for a day or two just on the threat of one coming close. But then Florida had 5 in one season, and it wasn't neat anymore.
So now I sit up here in these beautiful mountains of North Carolina and read the emails with the latest hurricane and its latest track. "T" (as I will call her) has a way of presenting the information on these storms in an entertaining manner and I really look forward to her updates. (She should blog, she'd be really good at it.) So now instead of wondering when I should start bringing in everything from the outside and pull close those shutters, I send my greetings and actually hope we get a little piece of the storm to relieve us from this drought. Oh the joys of Asheville!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Asheville Paws

JJ Big Paws wants to take a look at all his neighbors.
We have a group set up on Flickr for anyone who lives in Asheville and wants to post a picture or pictures of their buddys. Although its titled "Asheville Paws", we loved to see paws, wings, slithering types, etc.
Check it out at Asheville Paws.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Asheville Music

We had a very close friend in town last week. On Saturday, we headed over to the Biltmore Art Festival. Between our indecision on which painting to buy and the heat, we decided the best decision was to head over to the French Broad Brewery to cool off. We were lucky enough to catch Nikki Talley. Another in a long list of great musicians in the Asheville area.
My first introduction to the Asheville music scene was Christine Kane. I actually found her before moving here through her website. She is still my favorite. But since arriving, I have been fortunate to see alot of great bands and singers. Chuck Beattie has introduced me to the Blues. Rafe Hollister jams with an eclectic mix of bluegrass, country and rock and Nikki's lyrics and voice just mesmerize. What is great about the music scene here is all the original music. Cover songs are ok for background music but give me someone that has the guts to get up on stage and open themselves and their thoughts up to strangers.  I'll listen every time.
I can't wait for another Saturday night out in Asheville. So much music, so many venues.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our Most Popular Design...

The winner for the last 3 months. "It Is What It Is" is part of the Inspire Me line of design.
Check out all the great designs at JJ Big Paws.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

          Swannanoa River, east Asheville.

Redneck Hummingbird

We just put a hummingbird feeder right outside our sunroom windows. 
We did have the traditional bird feeder hanging there for about 2 months with no visitors. Maybe I bought the wrong kind of bird seed? Didn't think that was possible but something is amiss. Anyway, the hummingbirds seem quite appreciative. Especially our redneck hummingbird. I have learned that he is actually a Ruby-throated hummingbird. Very territorial. He sits in the maple tree watching for any invaders to the feeder. When there is a breach of security around the feeder, he dive bombs the invader. Very effective. He is also quite the piggy. Sucks that nectar down like its a Pisgah Pale Ale.
JJ Big Paws has yet to witness our new little friends but when he does I'm sure he'll greet them with that weird eee-eeing sound he makes when trying to communicate with other inferior species.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Good and Bad of Customer Service

Within 1 week we have experienced both exceptional customer service and the kind of service that makes you feel unappreciated and pretty much used.

I have worked in the customer service industry for over 20 years and have received some pretty extensive training. I know great customer service when I see it. It is a pet peeve of mine. It takes so little to provide great customer service and the benefits to a business can be huge.

Last week we had our front yard landscaped by a very well known company here in town. Long story short, it took 1 email to get a response back on how to pay them and it took 2 emails and 2 phone calls to get someone to tell us when we were scheduled. The designer never came out to check the plants or handle the placement of the plants as originally discussed. I had to check the plants to make sure I got what was listed on the original design. One of the plants was substituted with a smaller size plant from Lowes (it still had the tag). No one mentioned it and I had to bring it up to the foreman. I wonder what they will charge me for. The landscape is now completed and I have not yet been contacted by the company to see if everything went ok, how are the plants, etc.

Also last week, John and I attended an Asheville Tourist game on Friday night. We previously purchased a “flex pack” which are basically vouchers which we turn in for seats at any game we wish to see. Seems there was a mix up when they gave us our seats for the game as those seats had already been sold. They not only handled the problem immediately, they gave us seats in the dugout suites section. This entitled us to all you can eat and drink and the seats are located on the field behind the batter’s box. We were blown away.

There you have it. Not only did the Tourists go above and beyond to make sure their customers were satisfied, but they have empowered their employees to make decisions that exceed expectations.

The nursery/landscaping company on the other hand paid little attention to their customer once they secured the job. By not following up shows that they have little interest in their customer’s satisfaction. Needless to say, I won’t be doing business with them and how many people will ask me about my landscaping? How many potential customers have they lost? Who knows, but if they only would have made a couple different decisions, they would have kept 1 customer and maybe gained many more.

  • Followup on emails/phone calls
  • Follow through on what you promise
  • Solicit feedback from your customers so that you can improve and identify what works and doesn’t work. 
  • Determine your cost for providing exceptional customer service. The Tourists obviously believed that our business and loyalty was worth more in the long run than giving away those 2 dugout suite seats.  

Guess I’ll be going to more baseball games than I will be buying plants.

Monday, July 7, 2008

And Then There Were 2

You can also see this blog on has not only this blog but tons of information on Asheville, NC. The best music venues, coffee shops and restaurants. Plus all the quirky things that make Asheville such a cool place!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back From Vacation

Java Joe is back.
Although we didn't really go anywhere, we have had vacationers galore here at home. We were told this would happen when we moved to Asheville.
In the meantime, JJ Big Paws has added 2 new designs to the Inspire Me design line. Check them out:
Live Nice.
Play nice. Live nice. When you were little, it was play nice with others. Now that we are older, maybe we should live nice in the world?

Opt Out.
Get off the track. Stop listening to Corporate America telling you what to eat, drink, wear and buy. Un-join!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's "local"?

Since moving to Asheville, I have tried to be as much a "localvore" as possible. My husband and I haven't eaten at a national chain restaurant since we moved here. Asheville has great restaurants and there's no need to go anywhere but to a local restaurant. We try and buy our groceries from local farms and vendors. However, the other day we stopped by our local produce stand to get some great fruit. The fruit was marked "local" which we thought may have meant South Carolina. To me, South Carolina is a stretch when defining local  but when we asked we found out the fruit was from Florida! The owner's definition of "local" is the east coast. 
I felt betrayed. 
In the past the produce was marked "Weaverville", "Hendersonville", "South Carolina".  Now "local" means it could be shipped 800 miles! Will I stop shopping there? Well, I will go to the tailgate markets first and when I do go there I will surely ask where the produce is from. But the stand is still locally owned and I feel its better to buy from them than Ingles.
What's your definition of local?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New Designs at JJ Big Paws

Check out our 3 new designs in the "Inspire Me" line at JJ Big Paws.  The new designs include "Create Your Life", "here i am" and "I am the boss of me".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Discovering Spring

This is my first spring in 30 years.
The last time I saw a spring I was 15 years old and had other things on my mind than watching nature wake up from a long winter.
I have lived in Florida for 30 years. You didn't much notice spring. As a gardener you noticed the impatients getting leggy and maybe Home Depot was starting to sell some summer flowers. But that was it.
I now live in Asheville NC. My paradise. My husband and I dreamed about living here for the last 10 years. Every morning now, I look for what has changed from the day before. New growth on our trees. Beautiful pinks and reds. More flowers sprouting up. Bumble bees and the sounds of birds. The hostas growing. A turkey walking past my window. It is all so beautiful! It is all so inspiring!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Back To Work

After taking a week off for spring break, JJ is back at work creating a new design for two very close friends who will be participating in the Breast Cancer walk in Washington DC. JJ and family are so proud of our friends. This is their 3rd walk and have participated in 3 different cities, Ft Lauderdale, Chicago and now Washington. Cheers to Lori and Karen! 

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No More Phone Calls Please.....

"I am SO over office work, I just want to create!"
-Java Joe (aka JJ Big Paws)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Inspire Me Tees

JJ Big Paws has a design line called "Inspire Me Tees". 
What inspires you? Do you inspire? Visit JJ Big Paws and check out all our Inspire Me designs.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A New Asheville design

JJ Big Paws has created a new design in the
Asheville line: Asheville. Hot Bands. Cool Brews. New type that looks great on any color tee-shirt.
Asheville, NC has such great and talented bands. Bands local to Asheville and regional bands from Greenville to Knoxville. Fantastic venues to hear the tunes. Couple that with the local brews and you have an unbeatable combination that makes Asheville so unique. We have several local breweries in Asheville that serve up some tasty brews!
Our intention was to make a design that was as hot as the music scene and as cool as the local brews.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A new line of design has arrived!

Well its Monday and I can proudly say I met my goal this weekend of launching a new design line. It is called Tee-Towns. Tee-Towns is a customized line from JJ Big Paws. There are 3 designs to choose from. Pick a design, pick a product and tell me the name of the town, city, state, etc and within 24 hours you will have a customized product! If you like it you can buy it. No upfront costs. You simply fill out the form on the website and we replace the "Your Town" verbiage on the design with ...your town's name! 

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Asheville Design Line at JJ Big Paws

The Asheville line. 
Funky Asheville, Uber Cool Asheville. I created these designs to fit the personality of Asheville. 

I love Asheville. I have been visiting Asheville for the past 10 years and moved up to Asheville in the summer of 2007. The people, the music, the mountains. I don't think I ever want to leave. I created a website that I just started up and is going through growing pains but have a look around, We have another blog there about life in Asheville. 

Anyways, getting back to the designs! The Asheville line has the 4 designs you see here. You can get these designs on everything from shirts, bumper stickers, caps, magnets, etc. There are some great shirt styles, my favorite are the black long sleeve tees. The baseball jerseys and the ladies tank tops are also big sellers. 
You can see all the merchandise at JJ Big Paws

Also check out our Squidoo page: Asheville T-Shirts at JJ Big Paws design.

Hello World!

Hello World!
Welcome to Designing Paws. My first blog ever.
What is Designing Paws? Its all about JJ Big Paws. JJ Big Paws is a little shop on Cafepress. JJ Big Paws sells t-shirts and merchandise. I have 5 sections to the store with a 6th on the way. The purpose of Designing Paws is to let our customers, fans and the world know of new designs, upcoming events where you can see and buy JJ Big Paws designs, and general going ons.
So welcome everyone and come back often!