Merry Christmas 2016

The tradition of the Volunteer State still lives. The Smokies Strong movement proves it.

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With Christmas just hours away, we thought it was time to reflect on the year and send our warm wishes. Traditionally, the year-in-review is more of a New Year’s thing, but guys, this one’s been a heck of a year.

2016 has been tumultuous, but it’s important to remember the good things along with the bad. It was a year of divisive politics, but also of the Olympics. Our own corner of this great country was ripped apart by devastating wildfires in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the small tourist town of Gatlinburg. Lives, homes, businesses and jobs were lost. It was the worst natural disaster in East Tennessee in generations.

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But our community rose up to support the survivors, some of whom are without homes this Christmas. Organizations like The Red Cross helped to shelter and feed fire refugees, but that’s only one small part of the story: hundreds of individuals and small businesses across East Tennessee chipped in to provide water and Power Bars to firefighters. They rounded up and donated pajamas, food, toiletries and sundries to survivors.

The movement started small but, supported by our own Dolly Parton, it grew to hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief. It’s called Smokies Strong. You can still participate by buying t-shirts, and all the proceeds go to wildfire relief and rebuilding efforts.

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We call Tennessee the Volunteer State, and most people think that means football. The nickname started in the War of 1812 or the Mexican-American War, depending on which historian you ask. Thousands of Tennesseans stepped up to defend the country. The tradition of Tennessee Volunteers shows the bravery and “get the job done” attitude of our state’s sons and daughters and today, the tradition of the Volunteer State still lives. The Smokies Strong movement proves it.

This time of year, we reflect on our bounty with gifts and generosity, the wonder in our children’s eyes and good food in our bellies. We also hope it’s a time of love, of peace, of goodwill toward men. Enjoy your families, rejoice in fellowship and eat one more piece of pie.

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Merry Christmas, East Tennessee!

Save

Old Jefferson City Hall

Saving and restoring this building would go a long way toward boosting the renaissance of the beloved Mossy Creek area.

The Mossy Creek District of Jefferson City was once the most happening part of town…because it was the only part of town! The first recorded settlers arrived at the creek, which was characterized by (what else?) green moss growing in the creek bed, in 1788. They weren’t the first to actually live there; apart from the Native Americans who inhabited the area, these settlers found a small abandoned fort or blockhouse near the creek, where they lived until their own house was built.  

Mossy Creek (now known as Jefferson City) was the home of diverse stores and businesses, including grist mills, a cotton-spinning factory for thread and outfitters for the lumber operations thriving in the area. Read more about this colorful history here 

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The Old Jefferson City Hall has its own place in the history of Mossy Creek. Knox Heritage, an organization committed to preserving historic buildings and places in our area, added this building to its “East Tennessee Endangered Eight” list for 2016, marking it as an endangered building that is significant and worth saving. Knox Heritage posted this on their website:

“The Old Jefferson City Hall was built in 1868 by John Roper Branner, one of Jefferson City’s most influential citizens, about the same time as his nearby home known as the Historic Glenmore Mansion. The structure was home to the Masonic girl’s school and local lodge. In 1882, the site became the community’s first public school after the young ladies were moved to the Mossy Creek Baptist College campus – a precursor to today’s Carson-Newman University. In 1904, space was provided to the City for offices and a two-story addition was added to the front of the building. In 1930, the City and Lodge divided the space and added a wing for the City Hall and its fire department (and first fire truck). City government used the site until 1989. From 1868 until recently, local Masonic Lodge #353 continuously held sessions in the building. It holds a prominent position as an anchor on the southeast end of downtown.”

 The Old City Hall stands testament to the history of commerce and progress in Jefferson City. The bricks were fired locally, as was the custom of that time, and hauled by wagon to the site.  

The Old City Hall is located near its contemporary, Glenmore house, which was built between the years of 1867 to 1869. The oldest part of the building does need extensive love and repairs. Saving and restoring this building would go a long way toward boosting the renaissance of the beloved Mossy Creek area, which is already well on its way to revitalization. Conversely, the vibrancy of the surrounding area make this building a solid investment. The space would be great as office suites, a boutique bed-and-breakfast, even a restaurant.  

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Simply put, this building is ready for its next chapter in a 148-year story.  

If you’d like to learn more about this building, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

 

Christmas Shopping in Dandridge, Tennessee

It’s easy to see the friendly personality of the area with a trip into downtown, with its history on full display on the face of every store.

This small town is the only town in our great country named after Martha Dandridge Washington: the first First Lady! Thriving by dint of its location on the French Broad River (now Douglas Lake) and the busy stage road, this small settlement grew into a bustling town, full of hospitality. It’s easy to see the friendly personality of the area with a trip into downtown, with its history on full display on the face of every store. This is a town full of surprises: fun shops, delicious restaurants, and lovely mountain and lake vistas. It’s worth a trip for sightseeing, and while you’re here, we have a few shopping suggestions! Read on:

Maxwell House

139 E. Main Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

As the website describes, this shop with the cheery yellow exterior is actually a collection of gift shops located inside. Clothing, home décor, food and holiday cheer are all available in one place, in this historic building!

Call 865-397-0101 or visit shopdandridge.com to find out more.

The Shoppes at Roper Mansion

218 W. Main Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

For a more upscale shopping experience, visit the restored Federal style Roper Mansion. Here, you’ll find antiques, jewelry, gourmet food and even a gallery of original oil paintings from the 19th to 21st centuries. This is one house worth visiting for a sense of historic Dandridge. Even the restored kitchen is part of the store!

Call 865) 484-1237 or visit ropermansion.com for more information.

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Steamer Trunk

106 W. Meeting Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

An eclectic shop full of girlfriend gifts: wine accessories and trinkets to make you laugh. This is a fun stop for Secret Santa gifts or stocking stuffers.

Call (865) 397-7500 for more information.

Tinsley-Bible Drug Co.

1224 Gay Street Dandridge, TN 37725

This is a local landmark, founded in 1911. With an old-fashioned drug store fountain , complete with ice cream and the famous Bible burger, you can enjoy a break in the shopping day. There are seasonal items and treats for sale, too. Pick up your souvenir Dandridge hats and shirts on the way out!

Call 865-397-3444 or visit tinsleybibledrugs.com to find out more.

Rachel’s Attic

149 E Main Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

This store is more than a quick in-and-out; it’s a more eclectic experience for antiques and collectibles. This might be the place to find a gift for that person who just has everything … or for yourself!

Call (865) 484-0222 to find out more.

 Bucks ‘N’ Bass

664 E Meeting Street, Dandridge, TN 37725

It’s no secret that Dandridge is a lake town. And no lake town would be complete without a great fishing outfitter. For the fishermen and women in your life, check out this store. They have all the practical necessities for fishing (like live bait!) but they also have a selection of hats, shirts and other accessories.

Call (865) 397-6455 or visit bucksnbass.net for more information.

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Just a little over a half an hour to Knoxville and just under a half hour to Sevierville, Dandridge is just enough out-of-the-way to feel like a vacation when you come to town. The people who live here are very proud of their heritage. We hope you enjoy your visit.

 

As always, if you’re interested in learning more about living in Dandridge, visit Darlenereeves-kline.com.

Christmas Shopping in Jefferson City, Tennessee

Second-hand and thrift stores, small boutiques and well-known chain stores offer a full day of shopping pleasure here.

This week we’re continuing our small-town Christmas shopping blog theme with Jefferson City, Tennessee. The Mossy Creek District is undergoing a renaissance, as we’ve written about here, and it’s worth a browse. Plus, there are many small boutique stores worth checking out around town.

There are also a couple of big box stores like Goody’s and Big Lots in Jefferson City (not to mention WalMart and Lowe’s…) but we’ll keep this week’s discussion focused on the more unique locations.

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Tractor Supply

Wood-burning stoves, truck and equipment parts and accessories, farm needs and…fashion? You’d be surprised how many gifts you can get at Tractor Supply for those who just seem to have everything they want and need. This store is only a hop and skip away from the Mossy Creek district, and although it’s a chain retailer, it’s full of the stuff of our rural Appalachian culture, from rugged gear all the way to hot pink cowgirl boots.

Mossy Creek Wines and Spirits

A bottle of cheer is always a good choice for a host or hostess gift. Mossy Creek Wines and Spirits has high gravity beers, fine wines and spirits for the discerning palate on your Christmas list! The staff is helpful and the selection is good. Visit mossycreekwinesandspirits.com for store information.

The Creek Café

Rest your tired feet and delight your empty stomach with lunch and treats from The Creek Café. Salads, sandwiches and gourmet local ice cream will revive you in your quest for exceptional Christmas gifts! Visit thecreekcafe.com for more information.

The Red Door Gallery

Located at 1417 George Avenue, this gallery features work by local artists and custom framing. If you’re looking for a deeply personal, heirloom-quality gift, this is a great place to look. Visit reddoorgallerytn.com for more information.

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Tickle Me Turquoise

Monograms and vibrant colors adorn the sweet keepsakes out of this shop. Located at 274 W Old Andrew Johnson Hwy, they also have an Etsy shop here.

Formal Approach

Most people consider Formal Approach a go-to prom or homecoming dress store, but it’s also a high-fashion gown paradise if you need something for an upcoming swanky Christmas or New Year’s party. They’ll help you with dress fittings and alterations, and if they don’t have exactly what you need on site they can help you order it. Visit formalapproach.com for more information.

Rowena’s

If you’re on the lookout for home decor, check out Rowena’s. They also have an upscale array of ladies’ brands such as Lilly Pulitzer and Kate Spade. Visit their Facebook page here.

The Rusty Door

As the name suggests, this store is full of rustic and farmhouse-themed stuff! Visit their Facebook page, here,  for a more detailed look at what they offer.

There are many more fun and unique places to choose from in Jefferson City! I just don’t have room to list them all. Second-hand and thrift stores, small boutiques and well-known chain stores offer a full day of shopping pleasure here. It’s one of the best ways to get to know your new area if you just recently became an East Tennessean. Shopping close to home is also a great way to keep your local economy robust, bringing in more unique and creative businesses and keeping tax dollars in your community, where it will do the most good for you and your neighbors!

Merry Christmas shopping! And, as always, if you want to learn more about finding a new home in Jefferson City or any other East Tennessean location, visit Darlenereeves-kline.com.

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!

 

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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.

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.

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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 Dollywood.com 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

Tnvacation.com 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.

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#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!

 

 

Winter in East Tennessee

Be prepared this winter, but, mostly, enjoy it.

This post is for our  most recent transplants, who might not know what to expect for their first winter in lovely, temperate East Tennessee. For those who can claim to be “from around here,” feel free to add your own two cents about how to survive this upcoming cold season.

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First Things First

Winter in East Tennessee is a slightly different animal if you’re new to the state…an animal that sometimes basks in warm, golden sunshine while the bare trees and short days are the only real proof you have that you’re truly in winter. Sometimes it’s so bitterly cold and blustery that this temperate region shuts down for days while residents scramble to deploy salt trucks and buy all the milk and bread in a twelve-mile radius.

Add some eggs and nutmeg and you’ve got all the emergency-weather French toast a person could ask for.

So, aside from stocking up on perishables, how should you really prepare for winter in Tennessee?

Multiple Heat Sources

Stock up on firewood or propane–whatever fuel your fireplace or other heat source needs. In a mild winter this will serve as a pleasant way to ward off the chill in the mornings. In one of our hunker-down, polar-winds-a-blowing seasons, you’ll need those sources to help out your straining central heat source. Occasionally, the power will go out. Around here we have lots of trees and occasional ice or snow storms, a combination which will bring down heavy branches over power lines. The power companies are quick to fix the problem, but for a day or two you should be prepared to lose electric heat sources.

Pipes, Plants and Pets

The generally mild winter can make us complacent about bringing in plants and pets and protecting our exposed water pipes. Down south it doesn’t matter as much, and further north there is a seasonal ritual for protecting all these tender things from a hard freeze, but here it can sneak up on you. So pay attention to the frost advisories on the weather, and go ahead and cover up sensitive plants when fall temperatures dip into the 30s and insulate pipes and faucets. And make sure your outdoor pets have somewhere warm to go.

Lurking Ice

In some ways, our biggest enemy is ice. We don’t (usually) get much snow, but as it melts in the warm sun a slick layer of ice builds up, sometimes completely unseen under the inch or two of white. Invest in a bit of sidewalk salt so you don’t find yourself nursing a bruised ego and tailbone, and drive a little more cautiously.

Layer Up

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Layering is about to become your fashion statement of choice. Especially if your kids wait out at the school bus stop each morning, you’ll want them to have a t-shirt, sweater and jacket. Chances are all three will be needed and then peeled at some point during the day. Temperatures can start out in the teens and soar into upper forties–even fifties or higher–in the fall and winter around here.

Emergency Car Kits

Keep a stash of water, dried food like granola bars, walking shoes, an old jacket and a blanket in your car along with your auto emergency kit. If you break down or slide off the road on a patch of ice you might need to shuck your work shoes, slip on those walking shoes and get walking, or even wait a while with the vehicle. We’re not as isolated as the wilderness out West, but we do have some sparsely populated, rural areas where cell phone service is patchy and not many vehicles pass by. Our beautiful mountains make for lovely scenery but treacherous back roads, so please drive cautiously and plan for unfortunate possibilities.

Enjoy

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Be prepared this winter, but, mostly, enjoy it. This is one of our lovely, distinct seasons that bring people to our area from all over the country. The milder weather makes winter hiking delightful, and the trees graciously drop leaves so you can see for miles and miles (as the song says.) Frost sparkles in the morning, and winter sunrises and sunsets are nothing short of inspiring. And, just when you are so sick of being cold…it starts to warm up, and spring is just around the corner.

Looking to move here? Check out Darlenereeves-kline.com.