Christmas Shopping in Blaine, Tenn.

Take a step away from the big crowds and see what the little, local places have to offer.

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It’s all too easy to get fed up with holiday shopping before you even start: the crowds, the anxiousness (What if she doesn’t like this?! What if I’m paying way too much…didn’t that store at the other end of the mall say they’d throw in a free electric bread-butterer?!)

Fortunately, although our area is full of convenient chain and big-box stores, we are built upon the legacy of homemade and cherished, not to mention quirky, things. Take a step away from the big crowds and see what the little, local places have to offer. Your gift recipients will get something unusual and you’ll have a happier shopping experience. In these weeks before Christmas we’ll look at small-town shopping in a few little-known places.

Hey, while you’re cruising the highways and byways of upper East Tennessee on a quest for holiday shopping cheer, remember: the scenery is free!

 

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Photo courtesy of Leigh

Let’s get started with a day in Blaine, Tennessee. Blaine is located just Northeast of Knoxville, and we recommend starting your Blaine shopping pilgrimage from just north of the town, heading toward Knoxville on Highway 11W, also known as Rutledge Pike.

Blaine Antiques

On the right hand side, at 1945 Rutledge Pike, this unassuming little store is worth the drive. It’s truly a treasure hunt, so don’t expect to be in and out in five minutes. Be on the lookout for unusual dinnerware, vintage and collectable toys, jewelry and antique furniture. If you’re an upcycler, this is definitely your kind of muse.

Contact Blaine Antiques at (865) 933-0021

Boots, Lace & Southern Grace

New in 2016 is this store for the fancy, fashionable Appalachian lady. Located just a few minutes west on Rutledge Pike from Blaine Antiques, this is a great girlfriends’ destination. The place is full of lacy tunics, jewelry and a general cowgirl flare. You’ll recognize it by the bright turquoise bench just outside the door.  Visit their Facebook page or give them a call at (865) 401-4168.

Little Dipper

Need a burger and ice cream break? Walk next door for lunch. Little Dipper is small and friendly, and they serve up lunch specials with big portions and Mayfield treats that bring in hungry folks from miles around. Visit their Facebook page or call (865) 932-4886.

Okie’s

Okie’s Pharmacy offers “Cures and Curiosities” in both locations, at Blaine and Maynardville. Locals pick up prescriptions here, but while they’re waiting they peruse tie-dyed reading glasses, old-fashioned greeting cards, luxurious lotions by J.R. Watkins and Burt’s Bees and seasonal sundries like scarves, socks and costume jewelry. Looking for stocking stuffers? Okie’s has a big assortment of old-fashioned hard candies.

Call (865) 932-7775 or visit www.okiespharmacy.com.

The Southern Belle Boutique

Headed out of town, on the right side of Rutledge Pike, is another new source for mountain fashion with attitude: The Southern Belle Boutique. Part of the Southern Elegance Salon, this new store is where Blaine ladies can go for a one-stop complete makeover.

Call (865) 228-9405 or visit their Facebook page for more information.

There you have it: a day of shopping in less than a three mile stretch of highway!

If you want to find out more about living in rural Northeast Tennessee, visit my website at DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Easing Retirement Concerns

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns.

Real estate is about more than just location, location, location! It’s about investing in a life of security and comfort, and it’s even about having something solid to leave as a legacy. Many people choose to relocate (or stay put!) in Tennessee because land is affordable and the cost of living/standard of living ratio is among the very best in this country.

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from retiretennessee.org

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns, about finding stability, financial safety and finding a life of fulfillment after a lifetime of focusing on a career. CBS Money Watch addressed a few of those concerns in this article.

We took a few points and tailored them to fit those recent or pending retirees who might be looking to move to Northeast Tennessee.

Concern: running out of money.

“Between saving enough, being able to spend efficiently, affording your desired lifestyle and the possibility of outliving your money, running out of funds is likely your top retirement concern.”

You can outrun your budget no matter where you live, but if you stick to your limits, this upper right corner of Tennessee is a great place to stretch the value of your dollars. Hiking, swimming, sight-seeing…all this greatly increases quality of life and costs almost nothing. Home costs and energy bills are very low in comparison to other states, in part due to milder weather and in part due to lower prices.

Concern: feeling empty.

“Consider taking up some hobbies more seriously, joining a local group, spending more time with friends and family or planning a trip to kick off your retirement.”

friends-of-smokies
friendsofthesmokies.org

Thriving arts communities in Morristown and Rogersville, golf clubs, Friends of the Smokies, volunteer opportunities…our area is built on community. Leaving your career can make you feel unmoored, but the solution is to find a new tribe, a new purpose and like-minded group of people to help anchor you in this new stage of life.

Concern:  healthcare.

“Just one reason it’s important to maintain an emergency fund into retirement.”

Moving to a rural area doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your care. Overall lower living costs in Tennessee are a boon to those needing to pad their emergency fund, or pay for prescriptions and other ongoing medical treatments. Also, the medical community in Hamblen, Jefferson, Grainger and surrounding counties includes a wide variety of professionals, ranging from medical doctors and nurses to chiropractors and osteopaths. This means a wide range of care is available to you, close to home.

Concern: falling home values.

“If you planned your retirement timing and total savings taking in the factor of home appreciation, it’s a good idea to allow that to be a bump up in lifestyle but not the money you need to live.”

If you plan to sell your home in a state with higher home prices, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much house your money will buy in Tennessee. With what you have left over, you’ll be able to pad out your emergency fund or pay for a trip to Dollywood when your grandchildren come to visit!

If you’re interested in listings available in Northeast Tennessee, please visit my website at darlenenereeves-kline.com.

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Lifestyle in Grainger County

Grainger County is a rural paradise for those who want the peacefulness of country life, but also want to be close enough to cities like Morristown and Knoxville for big-town conveniences.

Bordered by Cherokee and Norris Lakes, with plenty of woods, creeks, and farmland in between, Grainger County is a rural paradise for those who want the peacefulness of country life, but also want to be close enough to cities like Morristown and Knoxville for big-town conveniences. Taxes are low here, as well as land and home prices. Agribusiness is making a big comeback in Grainger County, too. The land is bountiful, yet still close to consumers in more populated areas.

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The area is steeped in history; Tate Springs, in Bean Station, was once valued for its healing springs. Bean Station, founded by one of the area’s earliest settlers, is the site of the civil war battle named after the town. In Rutledge, the Grainger County seat, you can see a replica of Andrew Johnson’s tailor shop in front of the court house. He worked there briefly in the years before he became President of the United States. For more information about Grainger County, click here.

Wineries,  Vineyards and Local Farms

Tennessee has a long legacy of growing grapes and making wine. After Prohibition, and then the ebb and flow of farming economics, Tennessee wine fell by the wayside. Now, it’s making a comeback with small vineyards sprouting all over Northeast Tennessee. Here are two near the town of Blaine, in Grainger County:

Spout Spring Estates is a pleasantly surprising winery perched atop a ridge with commanding views 360 degrees around! They host free wine tastings during business hours, as well as weddings and other events. Visit spoutspringestates.com to find out more.

Richland Vineyards grows grapes for many local wineries. You can also visit the vineyard to pick your own fruit, and taste the wines made at different vineyards from grapes grown just steps away! Visit www.tennesseewines.com/richland_vineyards.htm to find out more.

Several family-operated farms in the area sell produce to local grocery stores and farmers markets.

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Red Barn Farms, located on Highway 11W, offers everything on site from fresh produce and eggs, to family events such as the corn maze. They even have a tractor tire jungle gym in front of the barn! Check their Facebook page for more information.

Grainger County Park

When you’re on your tour of local agribusiness, take a moment to stop in at the Grainger County Park. It’s surprisingly lovely, with play structures for kids, walking paths and the perfect picnic spot: high on a hill with a splendid view of Cherokee lake spread out below.

Grainger County Tomato Festival

Tomatoes are among the most popular vegetables in the country…did I say vegetable? I meant fruit, because, officially, that’s what a tomato is. Did you know that there are over 25,000 different kinds of tomatoes? You can learn these facts and so many more about the delicious, nutritious tomato at the Grainger County Tomato Festival! It’s held every summer in the last full weekend of July. The festival started in 1992 as a way to bring the community together and celebrate and promote Grainger County Tomatoes which, as locals know, are the best around.

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Admission is free. The festival features tomato wars, races, local artists and artisans, food, and even free music!   Visit www.graingercountytomatofestival.com for more information.

For Grainger County Listings, please visit www.darlenereeves-kline.com. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions!