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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.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Maximalism!

Maximalism is coming back in response to minimalism!

We’ve written before about how millenials are all about minimalism. The trends today are all about smaller homes, smaller footprints on the environment, even capsule wardrobes to minimize the amount of clothes that need to fit inside the smaller closet!

The idea behind it comes from many cultural sources, but probably the most modern and recognizable is this book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. The author put together a life philosophy and style and created an entire social movement! In her view, if something is not useful to you, or very beautiful, then get rid of it! So, no keeping your grandmother’s old shoes, or that falling-down piece of furniture (unless you truly think those things are useful or beautiful.) It’s a great philosophy to kick-start your decluttering efforts.

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Some people get really, really into the minimalist lifestyle, squeezing a four-person family into a renovated school bus, or throwing out everything in their kitchen except enough plates for four people, a food processor and two pans! The movement has become a kind of challenge: how little can you live with?

But there is a backlash coming in the style world, and it’s one that many of our boomers will recognize: it’s maximalism! Instead of simple, clean design with neutral colors and only a few pieces of furniture to adorn a room, maximalism is all about color, and patterns and squeezing in as much as you possibly can into one space!

Of course, you could go way too far with the idea, and keep way, way too much. That’s the danger of this end of the style spectrum: you could risk becoming a pack rat for fear of throwing something out that might be useful or stylish or just plain catch your fancy again in a year or two.

Interestingly, while minimalism seems to embrace small-home living as a means of saving money, forcing the minimum of physical belongings and reducing our environmental footprint, maximalism doesn’t really fit into a specific-sized place. It’s more about filling up whatever space is available.

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Parents of small children especially relate to the tug-of-war between maximalism and minimalism! A room overflowing with toys can get overwhelming, making even the most practical parent break down and scream, “That’s it! We’re getting rid of everything in here!” But, still, each new holiday or visit to the grandparents’ house brings on something else that’s colorful and fun, and deserves a place of honor somewhere in the house (preferably the kids’ rooms!)

The truth is that most of us probably fit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. We like a little bit of color, have a collection or two of things that may not really be necessary but make us happy. It’s probably a good idea to go through once every year or two and clean out our stuff, throw away clothes that haven’t fit in years or dishes that might be pretty but are broken and just live in the garage now.

So where do you fit into the spectrum? Do you like to pile on the color and texture in your home, or do you prefer a more serene environment?

Whether you’re into minimalism or maximalism, we can help you find your next home to make your own. Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com to search our listings.

What Do Millenial Homebuyers Want?

Check out this post to find out what millenials look for when buying a home!

These days, people choose houses for pretty much the same reason they’ve always done it: for a safe, comfortable place to call home that’s near work, schools and a lifestyle they can afford. But the houses that fit all those modern family needs are different than they were in past generations. Why is that? Because millenials are now the biggest generation in America, and they have seen some of the most drastic changes in our culture. In some cases, proximity to work is a big deal, but many millenials don’t care as much about that: they work from home! Some millenials choose to have big families, and so they want to live somewhere with tons of family-friendly lifestyle options and good schools. Some millenials even choose a home based solely on the needs of their pets.

So, what are a few of the home features that millenials seem to like the most? Read on to find out!

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Open Floor Plans

Fewer walls and less “formal” spaces seem to be more popular these days. According to this site, millenials are all about homes that blend functions, that allow for easier socializing and interaction between family and friends. And, because many millenials are choosing smaller homes, open floor plans make multi-functional rooms easier.

Technology

Millenials are all about tech, whether it’s a completely plugged-in smart home or just multiple devices (tablet, cell phone, laptop) to juggle. They want a home with uninterrupted cell and internet service, and plenty of places to plug things in. And, these days, there are ways to make connecting and charges your devices even easier!

Millenials also see technology that leads to energy-efficiency as important. They’re looking to conserve energy and keep bills low. Insulated windows and highly efficient appliances are a big plus in the housing market these days! (And, East Tennessee boasts some of the lowest energy bills in the nation. Pair this with smart, energy-conserving choices, and you can see why so many people choose to relocate to this affordable state!)

Style

Minimalism is in, and that means some old-school style is back. Hardwood floors, simple tile, neutral colors, even succulents and xeriscaping is considered chic right now. Low-maintenance is king, and decorating choices reflect comfort in an on-the-go generation.

Location, Location, … well, you know. Location.

Many millenials see the charm of living in the city, or at least within walking and biking distance to most stores, workplaces and schools. About half of all millenials still have their eye on the suburbs, with their quiet lifestyle, but about a quarter say they like the energy of living in the city.

What do you think? Are these home features right up your alley, or do you have completely different criteria for choosing a home?

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Of course, our area has a lot of different perks to consider. Knoxville is the biggest urban center around, at a population of just under 187,000. It’s a smallish big city. The bigger draw for our area is its eye-popping natural beauty, temperate climate and comfortable lifestyle. For those who like a big-small town feel, Morristown (pop. about 30,000) and Jefferson City (pop. a smidge over 8,000) have a lot to offer in the way of schools (including colleges), shopping, dining and low housing costs, as well as close proximity to outdoor pursuits.

 

If you’re in the market for a home in East Tennessee, then check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help you out.

Underground Tour of Tennessee, Part II

There’s more to the ground around here than just what you can see on top of it.

Welcome back to the view of our great state from the underground! As we mentioned in last week’s post, Tennessee is home to gorgeous above-ground features: lovely mountains, dense forests, majestic wildlife. Rivers, waterfalls and lakes abound, here. Sunrises and sunsets dazzle the eye.

But there’s more to the ground around here than just what you can see on top of it. Tennessee is home to a network of caves and caverns that play a very rich part in our great state’s history, from the time when only Native Americans wandered their vast, stony rooms to eras of war, when soldiers would take refuge in the protection of the hidden caves and use their resources, like bat guano for gunpowder and fresh water to drink.

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Read on to find out where you can descend into the earth for a glimpse of history and geological wonders!

Forbidden Caverns

Located in Sevierville, Forbidden Caverns is a great attraction to spice up your Smoky Mountain vacation (or, for us locals to spend a day trip exploring underground!) As all our amazing caves do, Forbidden Caverns is full of unique geological features and clear, underwater streams. They have a worthwhile presentation and light effects in the cave, as well as guides to augment your trip.

Racoon Mountain Caverns

Head southwest to Chattanooga, where Racoon Mountain boasts of the state’s most popular Wild Cave Tours! As the name suggests, these caves are anything but tame. Open to the public since 1931, Racoon Mountain Caverns are home to some incredible underground scenery, fantastic geological formations and fascinating fossils. It’s a great place for adventure and education.

Tours can be physically demanding, though; part of the cave is considered “wild,” with no artificial light installations. Those wanting to explore on a guided tour of this part of the cave will need sturdy shoes and clothes (that you don’t mind getting filthy), a helmet with headlamp and knee pads and gloves. Racoon Mountain tour guides provide the gear.

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Ruby Falls

A tourist favorite, Ruby Falls is just outside Chattanooga, below famous Lookout Mountain. It was discovered in 1930, and has been fascinating locals and tourists alike ever since. This is one of the few places on our list where you can check out a breathtaking, bird’s eye view of Chattanooga and see an incredible underground vista—all in the same attraction! The underground falls are worth seeing. They’re lit up with a dazzling light show.

Cherokee Caverns

Cherokee Caverns is located on Oak Ridge Highway in Knoxville, Tennessee. This family-friendly cave hosts year-round events, such as “Movie in the Cave.” Are you a Harry Potter fan? Just wait until you see it surrounded by stone walls, stalactites and the occasional bat! Talk about ambience! Be sure to bring a light jacket and blanket, though; the constant 58 degrees can feel a little chilly if you’re not up and moving around.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our blog tour of area caves! Honestly, the list we featured is not nearly all of the caves under our feet here in Tennessee; we have the most (known) caves of any of these United States! But many of the other caves require advanced skills to explore. It’s just one more thing that makes Tennessee special.

As always, if you’re interested in finding the right real estate for your needs above-ground, please visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help.

Underground Tour of Tennessee, Part I

Tennessee has a lot going on beneath your feet!

As you might imagine, much of the day-to-day living in Tennessee takes place above the ground. Hiking, swimming and boating, disc golf, shopping, school and work … all this stuff happens with the sky up above, or at least a typical ceiling and roof.

But Tennessee, no stranger to wondrous natural phenomena, has a whole lot going underneath your feet, too! Read on to find out what lies beneath the surface:

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Tuckaleechee Caverns

Tuckaleechee Caverns, located in (well, under) Townsend, Tennessee, is only 45 minutes from Sevierville and less than 20 minutes from the famed Institute at Tremont, located inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Tagged as “The Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” these caverns are pretty popular.

Inside, you can see a chamber almost big enough to fit a football stadium, and the tallest subterranean waterfalls. The whole underground tour is about a mile and a quarter, round trip. With gorgeous cave formations and a rich history, Tuckaleechee Caverns is well worth the day-trip.

And, when you’re done touring the cave, you can go for a walk, bike and camp in the gorgeous Smokies!

Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns, a U.S. National Landmark, are located in middle Tennessee, about an hour and 40 minutes from Nashville. Your experience here could last for days, with everything from short explorations to overnight trips and even live, underground bluegrass concerts available! We think the bluegrass tickets are the best value; you get a day pass to tour the caves before watching the show.

Like most caves, the temperature is just under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, year-round, so it feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Constant temperatures also mean these cave attractions are open pretty much every day!

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The Lost Sea Adventure

The Lost Sea, located in Sweetwater, is America’s largest underground lake. Here, you can take a boat trip … underground! You can also take more traditional, walking tours in the caverns. These are worth the trip: some of the most rare cave formations can be found here, including 50% of the world’s known “cave flowers.”

If you’re hungry and still up for some adventure after your tour, there is food and a little bit of souvenir shopping available at the Lost Sea Adventure, as well as nature walks through the woods.

Appalachian Caverns

Way up in the northeast corner of Tennessee is Appalachian Caverns, in Blountville. Here, you can take guided tours of the caverns and kick around in the campground, gift shop and “gem mining” shop. This is a fantastic location for history: the Appalachian Caverns have been important to the residents of the area since the 675 A.D. In more recent eras, the bat dung found inside the caves played an important role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars: it was a key ingredient for gunpowder!

Each of these amazing, underground natural wonders is an absolutely unique experience that can (and should!) be shared with the whole family. Formations like this are just one more reason that Tennessee is a great place to call home.

Check in next week to find out about  more famous Tennessee caves!

If you’re looking for real estate above ground, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help.

Eclipse Madness (and Other Natural Phenomena)!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features.

The total eclipse of the sun, visible at totality in many locations here in East Tennessee, is just three days away!

People from around the country are flocking to our area to view this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. We’re hoping for good weather to view the eclipse. If you’re planning to get a glimpse of the eclipse, please keep in mind that not all eclipse glasses are equal. Get NASA-approved lenses if you’re going to stare up into the sky on August 21!

Also, be aware that interstates and highways are going to be choked with traffic. Between out-of-town eclipse-chasers and locals trying to get the best view, there is an extremely high volume of vehicles expected to be out and about over the next several days. You don’t want to be stuck in a wreck instead of witnessing one of the most noteworthy scientific events of our time!

As locals know, Tennessee is no stranger to awe-inspiring natural events and features. To prove it, we’ve listed a few below.

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Synchronized Fireflies

Every summer, in a specific location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a breed of fireflies get together for a unique light show. These little guys glow frenetically for several seconds before total darkness descends in the woods, almost like a firefly switch getting flicked off. Then they start back up again! You can witness the synchronized fireflies yourself, but you have to get on a waiting list. After all, if everybody went tramping around in the woods after these little glowy guys, they’d probably be crushed into extinction. Check out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website to find out more.

Wildlife

Black bears, white-tailed deer, owls, skunks, coyote, turkey, bobcats and painters (mountain lions) … even though the great herds of buffalo and elk were moved on when people moved in generations ago, Tennessee is still home to an amazingly diverse roster of wildlife. Even in neighborhoods closer to urban areas, turkey, deer and even bear sightings aren’t at all unusual!

New Madrid Earthquakes

Reelfoot Lake, which stretches into Arkansas, Missouri and about as far into western Tennessee as you can get, is relatively young for a natural lake: only about 206 years old. The New Madrid quakes (named for a town on the Mississippi River that took the brunt of the damage) were the strongest quakes in recorded history east of the Rockies. Although it’s pretty to see now, the site of Reelfoot Lake was terrifying on the night of December 16, 1811, when the Reelfoot Rift gave a mighty heave!

Haints

With natural wonders like blinking fireflies, glowing foxfire, bobcat cries that sound like distressed women, and drifting, eerie fog, it’s no wonder our lovely valleys and ridges are fertile ground for ghost stories and superstitions. You can’t learn Tennessee history without hearing a ghost story or two! Click here to read more haint recollections.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little bit about the wonder of our lovely state! If you’re looking to settle here, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com for current listings.

Back to School Time!

It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School!

It’s August already! It’s been a beautiful summer: at times hot and muggy, but we’ve had our fair share of crystal-clear, lovely weather, too. It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School! Kids and parents all over East Tennessee are gearing up to walk back through those lobby doors, heading to new classrooms, new desks and a new year of learning. Here are a few tips to make the transition from summer to school a little softer.

Snacks!

It’s amazing how far a good snack can go toward cheering a kid (or parent!) up, or just helping them wind down after a day of rules and work. Add a couple of fun snacks to lunches for a little midday boost, and have something healthy and yummy waiting for a just-off-the-bus treat. Here are a couple of ideas: pinch the middle of a baggie of grapes with a twisted pipe cleaner to make it look like a butterfly, or slather peanut butter on celery and stick on raisins for “ants on a log.” Then sneak a few bites for yourself!

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Downtime

Yeah, your older kids probably have a stack of homework already, but a little bit of quiet, unscheduled time (coinciding with the snack, probably!) can set the right tone for tackling those worksheets. Reading a book quietly, building with Legos, imaginative play, even just sitting and daydreaming: all these things help a kid’s brain release after school. Note: screen time, even though it can seem like relaxation time, actually overstimulates kids’ brains, making it more difficult for them to wind down.

Get Out!

Since they’re spending so much more of their days indoors, make sure kids have plenty of opportunity to get outside. Studies show it increases their learning capabilities, reduces stress and can even help them be healthier. Kick the kids out to the backyard during the school week, and go to the park on the weekends. It’s good for parents, too! And, luckily, we have the majestic Great Smoky Mountains practically in our backyard, so a Saturday day hike is a short trip away.

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Healthy Habits

It’s important for both parents and kids to get enough sleep and eat healthy meals during the school week. It can be stressful making sure backpacks and lunches are all packed up and ready to go, the kids aren’t wearing the same stained shirt they wore for the past two days, pick up and drop off happen on time, and a million other things don’t fall between the cracks! Give yourself a boost with healthy habits.

Kids at Home

Does little brother or sister still stay at home? You can do lots of fun things to prep them for the big day they get to go to school, too. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will send free books to your home to help you jump-start your kids’ love of reading. Local libraries have reading programs and story hours that help you get out of the house and help your entertain kids, too.

Good luck with back to school time! Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.

Pickin’ in East Tennessee

People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars…

Rural East Tennesseans are no strangers to the “gettin’ it done” mentality. Only a few short generations ago, it took hours—even days, for those living way up in the hills—of arduous travel just to get to the nearest town of any size. So, if you needed farm implements, kitchen staples or even clothes, you made very certain you loaded up on all you could in that semi-annual trip to town.

As a result of living so remotely, people in East Tennessee made do with what they had. They learned to make just about everything with what was available: barrels, boats, furniture, homes, clothes, preserves … you name it, it could pretty much be conjured with some hard work and creativity. And, people didn’t throw away anything that had some kind of use left in it!

These days, of course, just about anything a body could need is a short drive into town or a decisive click of the computer mouse away. But that creative philosophy of life never quite left folks in this part of the world. One of the best results of this is a thriving flea market economy. People around here buy and sell anything from lamps to antique mason jars, and if you’re willing to spend the time hunting, you can find what you need. (Or what you didn’t even know you needed!) And, of course, the hunt is most of the fun!

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Some flea markets, like the Porter Flea in Nashville, are an annual event, worth the pilgrimage if you want to combine a vacation with a pickin’ trip. Others are closer to our neck of the woods, like the Centre Brick Indoor Flea Market in New Tazewell or the Green Acres Flea Market in Louisville (near the airport, just outside of Knoxville.)

If yard sales get your creative gears cranking, there are plenty of events in Tennessee for you. Every weekend in the summer, sometimes starting as early as Thursday morning, you can find yard sales. If it’s a big event you’re looking for, Tennessee has annual yard sale events that stretch for miles along our highways! A little bit west of here, in Fentress County, there is the annual 127 Corridor yard sale. This one’s coming up: August 3-6, 2017. It actually stretches from Addison, Michigan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee! Next spring, plan for the U.S. 11 Antique Alley and Yard Sale, which runs from Meridian, Missouri to Bristol, Virginia.

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Need a little inspiration for what to do with your newfound trash-to-treasure? Check out this article from Good Housekeeping. You can turn out-of-date end tables into a Lego brick paradise, colanders into planters, and jars and cans into anything from candle holders to terrariums. If something has “good bones,” you can find a fantastic use for it! And, really, nothing makes a house into a home more than the hand-made touch.

So, get pickin’! And, if you see a property you like while you’re out searching for antiques and up-cycle projects, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’ll be happy to help you find your East Tennessee home!