Christmas Shopping in Blaine, Tenn.

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


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!


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 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

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out.

This year is pretty warm for an East Tennessee Thanksgiving. Usually around this time we’re waking up to frosty mornings, laying by stockpiles of firewood for the cold winter ahead and snuggling down with a cup of hot cocoa, trying to enjoy the calm before the storm of cooking our turkey dinner feast.


We’re trying not to let our warm weather dampen the holiday spirits, though. If you need a little holiday motivation, there are plenty of things going on in our fair part of the country to help you out. Here are a few:

Dollywood Lights

It’s not quite Bob Segar’s “Hollywood Nights,” but this time of year is illuminated to the max at our favorite regional theme park. Local artisans practice their crafts, musicians perform in the theatres and outside and everywhere you look you see vibrant Christmas decorations. It’s worth a visit if you’ve never been, and your out-of-town guests will appreciate the experience, too.

Visit to get visiting hours and ticket prices.

Speaking of Lights

Take a trolley ride in Gatlinburg to see the decorations of the season! The balmy weather makes for comfortable strolling, too. Be sure to check out the artists’ guild and the huge cowboy boot store. If you’d like a little taste of Tennessee shine, there are moonshine tastings available to those of age on the famous strip.

Rolling on the River has some fun activities to help you with your festive spirit, especially if you are allergic to cooking. They recommend the Thanksgiving cruise on Knoxville’s river boat, Star of Knoxville or the Southern Belle in Chattanooga. The cruises include food, entertainment and, of course, lovely Tennessee scenery.

Get Local

The Rose Center in Morristown has a great lineup of entertainment, arts and crafts events, and classes. It’s a good time to get started making this year’s Christmas gifts! Or, you can support local artists and give pottery, paintings or other unique gifts this year.


#Opt Out!

REI is among the growing number of retailers who shun the anxiety and general bad sportsmanship of Black Friday, instead encouraging folks to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountain home. Go for a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or walk your dog at the local park. Ride your bike, sit outside with your relatives on the porch swing, play corn hole in the back yard. Take a minute to breathe and enjoy this holiday before plunging into the gift-buying frenzy of Christmas!



Decorating for Christmas, Safely!

Protect your family and your home so your biggest memories are all about the wonder and joy of the season.

It may not be Thanksgiving yet, but Halloween is officially over. While you’re picking through the dregs of leftover candy in search of the last mini Snickers after the kids go to bed, you might start thinking about the next major holiday decorating tradition. I’m talking lights everywhere, sparkles, red and green on anything that will stand still, Santa, reindeer, snowmen…that’s right, pretty soon will be Christmas decoration time!

Since all the major stores are festooning the aisles in anticipation of yuletide frenzy, we figured we’d take a moment to think about protecting your home during the holidays. has a great article about avoiding decorating disasters over the holidays.

Tree Matters


If you’re going with a live tree, keep in mind that the furnace-circulated indoor air in winter dries out more than just your sinuses. Trees turn into tinder quickly if not regularly watered. Further protect your tree (and your home) by placing it far from any fireplaces or stoves, and try to avoid setting it up over registers.

Lights, Camera … Action!

Light-hanging mishaps have spawned generations of comedic entertainment, but we still think it’s best to avoid opening presents on Christmas morning with your teeth because the rest of you is in a cast. The worst offenders of light-related accidents are ladders! Rickety ladders, poorly placed ladders, even ladders doing their jobs perfectly well turn dangerous when an over-leaner perches atop. Take the extra time to climb down, re-position the ladder and climb back up. The effort is well worth preserving your limbs.


Lights can overheat, too. In addition to making sure you’ve purchased the right lights for the conditions (indoor vs. outdoor, for example), consider a routine of always turning off the outside and tree decorations at bedtime. To make this easier, set up a timer to turn your lights on and off. They are easy to find and operate, and will save you money in energy bills in the long run. Light timers are also a good way to deter burglars who might be casing your home when you go out of town. Read more about that, and other ways to secure your home from burglars, in this article.

Fireplace Safety

Creosote buildup is more than just dirty, it’s extremely flammable! It’s worth the time and effort to clean your fireplace at the beginning of each cold season to protect your family and your home from a devastating fire. Also…really, Santa doesn’t want to shimmy down a chimney covered in gunk. Help the old guy out.


It might seem like an easy clean-up solution to toss your used wrapping paper into the fire, but it might cause a flash fire, burning too quickly and hot, causing things near the flames to ignite. Plus, inks and chemicals in the glossy paper could be released into your living environment, lowering air quality for your guests and family.

Never leave candles burning unattended, even when you’re just in the other room. A flaw in the glass holder could burst with the heat of the melted wax or a curious pet or kid could knock it over or–worse–get burned. You could even end up with a little smoke damage from an untrimmed wick. Nobody wants to add painting to the list of post-holiday cleanup.

Be safe this holiday decorating season! Protect your family and your home so your biggest memories are all about the wonder and joy of the season.

If you’re in the market for a new home to decorate this season, remember to visit