Asheville Insta-Love Feature: Life in the AVL

Scrolling through Instagram while drinking coffee or tucking ourselves into bed has become a way to visually connect with folks all over the world. It’s also a fun way to connect locally, glimpsing into the world we share with others. Our monthly feature, Asheville Insta-Love, will highlight one Asheville Instagrammer, sharing favorite photos from their feed. We’re thrilled to have Maggie Rogers and Jess Menezes, creators of the Life in the AVL blog, share their Insta-Love with us!


We are Life in the AVL, an Asheville-based blog pioneered by locals Jess Menezes and Maggie Rogers.

Maggie left and Jess right. Our passion often leads us to impromptu lunch dates, like this one at Salsa’s. Though this “meeting” was more of an excuse to drink margaritas than anything, we were still able to get some planning and scheming (and lots of laughing) done. We really can use anywhere to be our office. We just break out a notepad and start talking.


Life in the AVL officially launched just over a year ago, on Friday the Thirteenth, of October. The idea was born where we both were (and currently are) working, The Lobster Trap. Jess was rolling silverware when Maggie approached her with a slightly genius, and definitely crazy idea of starting a blog. Without knowing the details or where this may take her, Jess agreed after only a moments consideration.

Another interesting fact about our team, Jess is actually a Vampire. See? That’s blood and everything! Okay, okay. So she’s not a vampire REALLY, and yes that fake blood is completely unrelated to her taco; but she gave it her best shot. To celebrate our birthday, we decided to dedicate the whole month to community awareness. We raised money, ran 5ks, and even shared some of our favorite local organizations. This picture was taken at Highland Brewing, after Jess and her hubs volunteered with Asheville Date Night Guide at MANNA Foodbank.


Jess moved to Asheville from Philadelphia about four years ago. Seeking nature and adventure, she fell in love with the city after visiting her sister who already lived here. Since moving, Jess’s love has blossomed here to bloom a blog, spark a marriage, and create a cozy nest for herself in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Maggie originally found herself in Asheville about 9 years ago. Fleeing from threats of impending adulthood, she jumped at a chance to play softball (her childhood sweetheart) at a college just outside of the city. Though it hadn’t been her intention to stay, the landscape, the people, the FOOD – it all conspired to keep her rooted in romance. Now, she happily brags that she is “living the life” by enjoying the adventures Asheville has to offer with her family and friends, and then writing about them to people on the internet.

Maggie is also a part-time model; well, for Jess anyways. And the same is true vice versa. Starting the blog has allowed us to indulge and explore our creative interests, like photography and videography. Jess can often be heard barking orders for Maggie to sit or stand, or the classic, “DON’T MOVE! I gotta get this shot!” This is one of the things that makes our friendship so comical. We often sound like an old married couple, though we laugh as often as children.


Originally, the blog was started to breach a connection between what real life is like for Asheville locals, and the often over-romanticized ideas that many outsiders have about our city. If anything though, it’s proven that real life here is romantic, especially compared with other places. Asheville has so many different elements that make it magnificent, and Life in the AVL is meant to highlight the lifestyle that comes with them. Whether the subject is about artists, community, local businesses, family fun, food, self-care or nature – we strive to bring the chaos together. We have nailed it down to the most logical format by dividing our posts into four major categories: Health, Happiness, Adventure, and the newest, Asheville Artists. We also run a variety of series that tend to blur across category lines.

Last April, Jess got a wild hair and suddenly we were doing a fitness series. Though Maggie grumbled pretty much the whole way through it, the series required a chunk of field research and was actually a lot of fun. In this picture, we are posing with Nico, CPT of Riveroak Fitness after we got gainz from his SWIFT Bootcamp on Sunday’s. He was just one of the incredible people we met during our fitness craze. We also interviewed a lineup of active locals about their favorite workouts, and their whys. The title of the series was “How Do You Sweat” and covered everything from climbing and dancing, to lagree and hot yoga.
Can’t you just feel the sun and mist on your face? Maggie took this photo on a datenight at Catawba Falls over the summer as part of our GET OUT AVL series. We hiked, we swam, we drank at rooftop bars, we shopped and we rode the pubcycle. Summer time in Asheville is like recess 24/7. There are so many ways to play and get out and enjoy the weather! So, we did all these things and shared about it to inspire adventure!


Here is Jess’s 2 seconds of fame. No really, for two seconds she is in the promo video for Race to the Taps, sippin’ a beer! Obviously, that made her very happy. This was part of our community series we ran for our birthday month, October. Hashtag #showusyourselfless! Race to the Taps is a great way to support amazing organizations like Children First/Communities In Schools, Kiwanis Club of Asheville, Go! Green Opportunities and Irene Wortham Center! We were happy to run, race at the veryyyy end against each other and drink a beer to celebrate. We also did the one on October 27th at Bold Rock Cider.
Anyone familiar with Asheville knows this is the place for dream weddings. Weddings here are just as unique as our culture – you can smooch under a waterfall, on the crest of a mountain, or even in a 1920’s era castle. Ali and Jacob Whitman (pictured above) were just one of the amazing couples we had the chance to work with to create our Wedding series. We interviewed a handful of brides about their big day, as well as several industry professionals like Alexandra Herman, the brilliant mind behind Asheville Wedding Collective, and Emmaleigh Argonauta, the vibrant and savvy spirit who heads Just Bloom Together. The list doesn’t stop there. We also spoke with photographers, florists, and even a guy who serves drinks out of the back of his refurbished ‘47 Dodge. If you ever wanted to plan a wedding in Asheville, it has literally never been easier.
As an Asheville blog, we are committed to seeking out local businesses who deserve some love. Here is Jess chilling outside of one of our favorite stores, Moonlight Makers. If you love puns, you will LOVE this store. We did a ‘boutique crawl’ for part of the summer series Get Out AVL. Jess made a video to capture all the fun and all the shopping that went down to support local businesses and get some great things! Keep an eye out for the winter addition of shopping local for the holidays!
This picture means a lot to us, for on this day our eyes have never seen a more beautiful sight (that may be a little dramatic but I’m sticking to it!) We frolicked among the flowers at Lady Luck Flower Farm and watched as over 100 butterflies twinkled their magical wings to each flower to get a taste. We filled our five gallon buckets as full as possible and left that paradise place with a memento to create some beauty in our own places. Then we laughed hysterically when we left down the old country lane in a wobbly jeep and turned around to see the five gallon buckets full of flowers and water flying at our faces. Water everywhere. Good times make great memories.
One of the funnest things we get to do is talk to creators. In this picture we were interviewing Jessica Nielsen, an acrylic and mixed media painter who has a studio opening coming soon. The Asheville Artist page was only recently added to our site. Though sharing the local creative movement was a goal and focus for us from the beginning, it was a bit difficult trying to decide on our approach. As another way of celebrating our birthday, we launched our first Artist Series. Each month, we feature a single creator, and a small collection of their work on Art Day, Wednesdays. By focusing on just one piece at a time, we are able to climb inside the minds of the artists and their work in a new, intimate way. It is our belief that the act of creation, Art, can connect us all.


Say hello to us on Instagram or on the blog Life in the AVL@lifeintheavl, and @_jessmenezes_

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