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Once a week we’ll be posting about life in our beautiful corner of southern Appalachia!

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Welcome to DarleneReevesKline.Wordpress.com, your new source for information about culture, lifestyle and, of course, real estate right here in East Tennessee. Once a week we’ll be posting about local businesses, festivals, and great things to do in our beautiful corner of southern Appalachia! We’ll also give you useful information about our state’s low taxes and low cost of living, which makes it the perfect place to start a family or enjoy retirement to the fullest.

Visit http://www.darlenereeves-kline.com/ for local listings.

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A Tennessean Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving wasn’t widely celebrated in Tennessee until the late-1800s.

Our lovely corner of Tennessee (in case you’re wondering, our corner is the upper East one) is full of transplants from all over the country. People move in for the beauty, the usually pleasant weather, the comfortable cost of living and the laid-back lifestyle. It’s a great place for families, too, with our country traditions.

But some of our most cherished traditions are transplanted here, just like many of our citizens. It might surprise you, but Thanksgiving was considered a Yankee holiday until pretty recently in our country’s history!

Even when the rest of the country—Michigan, New York, Ohio territories—were digging in to turkey dinners each fall in celebration of the early Massachusetts settlers, Tennessee didn’t join in. (Volunteers we might be, but Tennesseans have always marched to the beat of their own, mountain-made drum.) In fact, most of the South shunned Thanksgiving.

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According to the website SeriousEats.com, an author by the name of Sara Josepha Hale launched a personal crusade in the 1800s to nationalize Thanksgiving as a holiday, to be set at one, unified date each November.

It’s difficult to imagine a country divided over a holiday like Thanksgiving, but in the mid-1800s, we were in a period of political, religious and cultural turmoil. Many Southerners considered Thanksgiving to be bound up in the push for Abolitionist views, and rebelled against the holiday. (Remember when we said Tennesseans march to our own beat? Many will be surprised to learn that a Quaker in Jonesborough, Tennessee published the first newspaper in the country devoted to the Abolitionist movement. It was called The Emancipator.)

Adding to the alienation most Southerners felt in regard to the holiday was the Thanksgiving feast itself, full of cranberries and pumpkin pie and generally fare that wasn’t typically seen on a Southern table.

Thanksgiving didn’t become universally accepted in America until after the Civil War. In fact, Abraham Lincoln himself tipped his hat (metaphorically) to the tenacious Sara Josepha Hale and ultimately declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. As a result of the political tumult surrounding the War Between the States, Thanksgiving was only patchily observed, at best, in the South. Eventually, though, the lure of turkey dinners and the sweet homecoming that Thanksgiving offers to many families won out.

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The traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal still includes recipes original to New England, like cranberry sauce and even oyster stuffing. Many Southerners still rebel a bit, though, adding in cornbread and pimiento wherever they can. Few things can bring people together like good food, and remembering that even us mountain-southerners wouldn’t be here without the first Yankees surviving their harrowing first winter makes us enjoy that second piece of pie even more.

So the next time you think your family talks about politics too much around the Thanksgiving dinner table, remember this fine holiday was adopted nationally during the Civil War! Political arguments are as American as pumpkin pie.

Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find your perfect home for the holidays. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, TN State Park Style!

Did you know? You can have Thanksgiving dinner at one of these eight TN state parks!

Nothing is better than enjoying a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast, with friends and family surrounding you. Traditional recipes and cries of “That’s the best turkey you’ve cooked, yet!” make the day perfect.

Nothing is better than cooking and eating the meal at home …

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Unless you’re enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at one of these eight Tennessee State Parks. If you’re like most people, you had no idea that you could get a meal at a state park, let alone an epic feast! But you can! State Parks at these locations have a restaurant that is open and ready to serve a delicious, memorable Thanksgiving dinner experience:

CUMBERLAND MOUNTAIN STATE PARK (CROSSVILLE, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Try the famous banana pudding.

DAVID CROCKETT STATE PARK (LAWRENCEBURG, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Spend the Friday after Thanksgiving on a family-friendly, ranger-led hike.

FALL CREEK FALLS STATE PARK (SPENCER, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Private dining is available for large groups. Be sure to call ahead for availability.

HENRY HORTON STATE PARK (CHAPEL HILL, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Check out the cranberry jello salad for a twist on the traditional favorite.

MONTGOMERY BELL STATE PARK (BURNS, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: The Thanksgiving menu includes Southern favorites like fried okra and catfish.

NATCHEZ TRACE STATE PARK (WILDERSVILLE, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Be sure to get an eyeful of the gorgeous lake view.

PARIS LANDING STATE PARK (BUCHANAN, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Enjoy the cinnamon apples.

PICKWICK LANDING STATE PARK (COUNCE, TENNESSEE)

  • Tip: Smoked chicken and beef brisket are served alongside the traditional turkey.

Lots of people, including those who aren’t the best turkey bakers or who just plain get fed up with the huge mess after cooking and eating, choose to go out for November’s traditional American meal. And, eating just steps away from our state’s gorgeous, natural resources—with an eye-popping view, too—reminds us of what we have to be thankful for! Go to the Tennessee State Parks website to view full menus and get contact information, so you can call to check on reservations. (Some of the parks are first come, first serve, while others take reservations. Be sure to check!)

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If you’re in our neck of the woods, here in East Tennessee, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, at the doorstep to our lovely Great Smokies, are full of restaurants to enjoy a traditional meal this Thanksgiving holiday.

After Dinner, Get Out!

You can indulge in some frenzied Black Friday shopping; after all, Sevierville is famous for its outlet malls. But you can also join a growing movement, called #OptOut by outdoors retailer REI. They close their stores and encourage both employees and patrons to go outside and enjoy the beauty of nature in the fall with your family. Take a hike, play Frisbee, have a picnic if the weather is agreeable! Save your shopping for another (less crowded) day and soak in the fresh air, instead. Plus, the Opt Out movement is a great way to work off some of that turkey you stuffed yourself with the day before!

In the market for a home this holiday season? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to get started.

Fall Gardening in Tennessee

There’s a lot to be done in your East Tennessee garden during the cold-weather months.

It’s certainly no secret that four of our most attractive reasons for folks transplanting to East Tennessee is our four, distinct, lovely seasons. Each one brings a unique beauty: the abundance and cheerfulness of spring, the lush, warm summers, the crisp, colorful autumns and the starkly beautiful winters with sparkling frost and occasional blanketing snows.

For those folks who love to experience nature from the soil of their own gardens, November is no time to stay inside.

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We’re in full-on fall now, and although you won’t see the bright, cheery blossoms and buds we usually associate with Tennessee gardens in about five more months or so, there’s a lot to be done in your garden during the cold-weather months. Read on to find out more!

Trim the Trees

We haven’t had our first hard frost yet, but take note when we do. After that is when you should get out the clippers and chain saw and get to pruning. The sap has retreated from the outer branches, so now is the healthiest time for your trees to get trimmed. This will help your lovely spring bloomers to be even more beautiful when warm weather swings back around.

Tip: Some tree-trimmers go a little nuts, pruning all the smaller branches way back. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture calls this a no-no. Be gentle with how much you cut. A little bit stimulates the tree; too much traumatizes it.

Plant Bulbs

Willow Ridge, a Knoxville-based landscaping company, gives this information about spring-flowering bulbs:

Crocus, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips are all bulbs that we plant in the fall in East Tennessee. They need the cool of winter in order to bloom and also need time to establish a healthy root system. Plant them when temperatures are below 65 degrees either in the ground or in containers.

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Edible Garden Maintenance

Now is the time to cover your tender strawberry plants with straw and cover your cool-weather garden with frost blankets—if you want to extend their growing time. This year, you may have a few more weeks until you really need to get after these tasks; it’s been fairly warm so far.

Basic Maintenance

Now is the time to trim back dead plants and cover beds with three inches of mulch. Don’t pile the mulch up on the bases of your trees and crowns of plants. They don’t really like it, and the mulch gives pests the perfect cover to nibble away at them.

Feathered Friends

We have an abundance of lovely birds here in East Tennessee! Brighten your dreary winter days with a colorful garden show: keep your bird feeders filled with seed all winter. Keep water in the bird baths, too; birds will continue to need it throughout the upcoming winter months. You can also put out some fruit slices for an extra treat.

For more details about maintaining your garden through the fall and winter, check out this article from Tennessee Home & Farm.

Looking for your new home in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy Fall, Y’All!

Halloween Traditions from the Old World to Appalachia

Where did modern-day Halloween traditions originate?

These beautiful hills of Appalachia were settled by folks from all over the world. In fact, Newman’s Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee is famous as the homeplace of Melungeons, a group of people with mixed heritage, notably European, African and Native American.

But many of our cultural traditions, like carving Jack-O-Lanterns, came from the British Isles. In the old country, folks carved turnips to make lanterns this time of year. When migrants encountered pumpkins, it was decided they made much better spooky heads! And so, our modern form of celebrating Halloween by carving faces into pumpkins was born.

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Halloween is also a time of change; the weather gets cold, and summer has officially faded away until next year. Folks like the Celts (a common source of ancestry for Appalachians) marked this time of year by bringing their livestock closer to home and settling in for the winter months. This was also the time of year to acknowledge and celebrate the spirits of those who had died. Samhain was the Celtic festival dedicated to these ancestral spirits. Our modern-day practice of dressing up in spooky costumes and visiting our neighbors, and of scaring the heck out of each other, has its roots in Samhain.

All Souls’ Day is also marked by an older version of Trick-or-Treating, when children went door-to-door begging for “soul cakes.” For each cake received, the children said a prayer for an ancestral soul. Today, over 85% of Americans give out sugary treats on Halloween! This holiday by far outweighs all the others for candy sales and consumption. (Yes, even Valentine’s Day!)

Bobbing for apples isn’t as popular at Halloween parties these days, but in Colonial America and in the old country, it was a way to predict who was getting married next in the village! It was like a wedding bouquet toss—only edible! The object of the game was simple: whoever bit an apple first would be the next to marry. Apples are a major harvest this time of year, and we still celebrate fall’s arrival with delicious apple cider, apple pie and candied apples.

Probably the most popular modern reason that families have for celebrating Halloween in East Tennessee is community enjoyment. Many neighborhoods go all out, decorating the yard, even cooking out on the grill with other community members while kids roam around Trick-or-Treating, dressed up in costumes and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

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Not all the ghosts, goblins and spirits were left in the old world, though. Appalachian folklore is full of haints and boogers! A mixture of superstition, terrifying wild creatures (like mountain cats, called painters, that screamed like tortured women) and spooky, foggy surroundings make for the perfect backdrop for fireside ghost stories.

Appalachian Ghost Walks was a major resource for this blog on the great history behind how Appalachians (and most Americans!) celebrate Halloween. If you like history, and you’d like a spooky tour in our area, then go on one of their Ghost Walks.

Be safe this Halloween!

If, while you’re out trick-or-treating, you see a neighborhood you’d like to call home, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

 

Happy Halloween!

If you’re looking for some family-friendly Halloween activities, we’ve got you covered!

Halloween is fast approaching! East Tennessee loves its ghosts and goblins. (We wrote here about some popular local haunts.)

Many neighborhoods still gear up for trick-or-treating, turning on those porch lights and decking out the house in spooky decorations. There are many other fun ways to celebrate this creepy time of year, too! If you’re looking for some family-friendly Halloween activities, we’ve got you covered! Read on to find out more.

Trunk or Treat

This spooky tradition is a fun, safe way to dress up and trick-or-treat … with cars! Locals dress themselves and their cars up in silly or spooky ways and hand out treats to little princesses, super heroes and any other kids who come out in costume! 2017’s event details for local Trunk or Treat events are as follows:

Morristown: 5 p.m., October 31, Trunk or Treat at the Farmer’s Market. (There’s also Trick or Treating downtown at the same time.)

Rogersville:  5 p.m. October 31, Trunk or Treat in the Historic District. Call 423-272-2186 for more information.

Jefferson City: Saturday, October 28, Trunk or Treat at the Fair Grounds. Call 423-312-1081 to find out more!

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Boo at the Zoo!

This annual favorite at Zoo Knoxville is geared toward little ones, from infants through elementary age. This activity is a fun way to see some of your favorite animal friends while loading up on candy, donated by local businesses. Proceeds from the event go toward zoo programs like the Species Survival Program, helping endangered animals survive extinction. Expect to see some of your favorite book and movie characters throughout the zoo, and lots of smiling faces!

Boo at the Zoo: Three weekends in October, from 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Admission is $9 per person over 4 years old (free for kids under 4) and parking is free for this event.

Dates: October 12 – 15, 19 – 22, 26 – 29

Corn Mazes

Here’s a trade secret you probably didn’t know: maze creators use GPS equipment on their tractors to carve out mazes in the corn fields. I bet corn mazes look pretty amazing from the sky!

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This corn maze, in Sevierville, is celebrating its 10th season. The maze will be open through October 29, so get out and get lost!

Echo Valley

In Jefferson City, this maze is great for groups and families. Admission is $15, but that covers a lot: even a free pumpkin for the kids! The maze stays open until November 4.

Oakes Farm

In Corryton, this family-friendly attraction is a whole lot more than just a corn maze. Check them out for pumpkins, food, games and tons of activities.

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Weather this time of year can be pretty unpredictable; an 80-degree day can plunge quickly into a 40-degree night! So make sure you check the forecast and dress accordingly. Layers are always a good idea during the fall in East Tennessee. And be sure to use safety lights, like flash lights and glow sticks, and have a safety plan in place with your kids whether you’re out trick-or-treating or getting lost in the corn!

 

Looking for a (not haunted) house? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com! Happy Halloween!

 

What Retirees Want!

You might be surprised at today’s retiree’s choices.

Most people, when they hear about retirees moving or looking to buy a new home, imagine somewhere sunny, with palm trees, and something small, like a condo or considerably downsized house. According to this survey on Forbes.com, performed in 2015, those antiquated ideas are way off!

So what are today’s retirees into, when it comes to this new phase of home life?

Staying Put

Surprisingly, most boomers choose not to relocate to a new state when buying a new home. And downsizing is becoming a myth! Many of today’s retirees choose a similar-sized home, or even one that is a little bigger. Why? To make room for visitors, family, and even hobbies. In fact, the most popular home improvement project for a retiree is adding on a personal office!

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Less retirees are choosing this scene for their daily lives.

Freedom Threshold

It’s no surprise that the boomer generation rejects the old view of retirement: relaxing in the sun, living in a tiny condo. Today’s retiree has planned meticulously to live their lives to the fullest! They are choosing lifestyles based on the things they like and want, instead of living where they have an easy commute to work or better access to schools for their kids. This mindset is called the Freedom Threshold.

The biggest advantage of reaching the Freedom Threshold? Living longer! Stats show that retirees aren’t just fading away after punching their last time card. Instead, they’re living longer, fuller lives, and choosing dream homes they’ve saved for instead of just settling for something tiny.

So what is the biggest motivator for retirees when choosing their next home? Proximity to family. Retirees who stay in-state do so to be close to family, and 29% those who move away have the same reason: to follow family.

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Survey says: family is the most important factor in retirees deciding where to live.

Not Just Fun and Games

Proximity of family is also on this checklist of things to consider when planning a retirement relocation, on CNBC.com. In addition, if you’re looking to make a major lifestyle change (in addition to retiring!) keep in mind differences in taxes from state to state, and whether keeping your original residence to rent out or selling it outright will be more advantageous.

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Even though schools and work commute are no longer as important, you should still weigh your options carefully.

Medical care is also a major consideration. Even if you plan to snowbird north for the summer or south for the winter, you shouldn’t rely only on doctors in your home state. Even in rural areas, Tennessee has good access to emergency care, and clinics and hospitals are a short drive in most locations. But, still, do your homework and make sure you like the local medical care before committing!

Consider East Tennessee

Here in East Tennessee, the same mild climate, beautiful landscape, low cost of living and pleasant standard of living—including tons of stuff to do!—are good for both young, working families and those looking to retire. In Tennessee, you can get the best of both worlds: staying close to family, and living well on a fixed income!

 

If you’re looking to retire in East Tennessee, and you want to find your dream home, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help.

Heating Bill Comparison

Let’s take a look at the cost of heating our homes in East Tennessee.

It’s officially Fall, Y’All, and it’s the time of year for lovely leaves (which haven’t reached their peak yet,) gorgeous, bright harvest moons, and crisp nights and mornings. We haven’t yet hit a hard frost this season, and lots of people stay comfy even in the chillier weather by shutting their windows and bundling up in warm sweaters and socks.

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But we know the real cold is on its way! And, since we’re proud of how affordable the cost of living here in Tennessee is, we thought we’d take a look at how much it costs to heat a home in our fair state. Electricity Local is a website that compares the cost of electricity, and how much electricity is used, with the rest of the country. According to them, Tennesseans spend an average of $123 per month on the household electric bill. If you read further, you’ll notice that’s actually higher than the average electric bill in America, by a little over 14%.

But wait, didn’t we say bills are lower, here?

They are! The rate for electricity in Tennessee averages 10.1 cents/kWh, ranking us 37th in the nation. That’s pretty good. Our cost for electricity is about 15% lower than the average in this country. And, because the cost of electricity is more affordable, more people use electric means (like heat pumps) to heat their homes in the cooler months!

If you opt to subsidize your heating needs with gas, or good old firewood, then your electric bill will be even lower. We also have plenty of choices in Tennessee for solar power, which can be purchased on a lease-to-own basis or with a lump sum. Going this route means your electric bills will dwindle down to nil. In many cases, solar power consumers get paid by TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), because their solar panels produce enough power to sell some back to the grid! That’s a pretty sweet way to put our average of 204 days of sunshine per year to good use.

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But, what about other sources of heat for the home? Around here, natural gas is pretty popular. It delivers heat quickly. In comparing the cost of gas with electricity, we can check out Energy Models, a website that specializes in this sort of thing. The biggest challenge in the comparison is that electricity is measured by kWh, and natural gas rates come in dollars per therm. Those aren’t easily convertible units! We went to this website for a better explanation:

There are 100,000 Btus per therm of natural gas. There are 3413 Btus per kilowatt hour of electricity.

To Calculate The Comparison:

Multiply the cost per kilowatt hour X 29.3 to get the cost of 100,000 Btus of electricity and compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

Example: If your cost of electricity is $.08 per Kwh, then multiply $.08 X 29.3 = $2.34 for 100,000 Btus of electricity, then compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

The upshot is this: natural gas is, actually, cheaper to use in heating your home. BUT, installing a natural gas heater, and maintenance, too, costs more money.

 

If you want to make East Tennessee your home this fall, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!