Day in the Life of a Tennessee Retiree

We interviewed a real retiree to find out what her life is like in East Tennessee.

We’ve written a lot about how great our corner of Tennessee is for retiree living. You already know about the low taxes, amazing scenery, fun festivals, parks and lakes to check out. We’ve even told you about how much more house you can get for your money compared to other states!

But what does a real retiree’s day look like in these parts? We interviewed one to find out.

J. lives in Morristown. She recently downsized from a two hundred acre farm to six acres just off the beaten path. She spent her professional life as a public schoolteacher. J. was gracious enough to give us a sample schedule of one of her recent days. Read on to find out more!

A Day in the Retirement Life of J.

7 a.m.: Wake up, get my morning cup of coffee and enjoy it on my back deck. The sunrise is absolutely amazing, full of orange and pink this morning! I hear birds chirping and the neighbor’s cows come over to moo hello from over the fence. It’s such a great morning, I decide to get another cup of coffee and enjoy it with the newspaper.


8 a.m.: Time to go to the gym. It’s only about a ten minute drive to my favorite one in Morristown. I go at least three times a week. Sometimes more, if I have time. I prefer spin and yoga classes.

9:30 a.m.: After exercise and grabbing a few groceries in town, the weather is still nice enough to work out in my garden. I recently completed my Master Gardener class through the University of Tennessee extension service. I’m trying to get my shade garden up to snuff. My roses look great this year!


11 a.m.: After an early lunch on the front porch, I might take a few minutes to read a book on my Kindle or take a nap. I prefer the front porch for this time of day; it’s shadier and cooler. It catches a great breeze, too.

1:30 p.m.: I’m getting ready to head over to Rogersville for a painting class at the gallery. I started painting after retirement, and the art community in the area is fantastic: supportive, creative and fun! I prefer impressionist paintings, myself. I have a particularly challenging barn picture I’m working on, and my teacher is great about showing me what it needs to really get it finished.

3:30 p.m.: After my art class, I stop in to a couple thrift stores on my way back home. I like to keep stocked up on play clothes for my grandkids, when they come over. Sometimes I help them paint some pictures, or dig around in the garden. They usually get dirty somehow at Grandma’s house!

4:30 p.m.: My husband reminded me of a free music concert going on at the park in Morristown. We’re off to enjoy the show and grab a bite of supper after!


Thanks for letting us get a peek into your day, J!


As always, check out for more info about how you can enjoy retirement in East Tennessee.

Spring Festivals in East Tennessee

Once the warm weather starts, it’s officially festival season.

Now that spring is here, it’s time for one of the best parts of family life here in East Tennessee: the festivals! From car enthusiasts to artists, people around here love to get out for more than just hiking in the Smokies. Once the warm weather starts, it’s officially festival season. We’ve rounded up a few happening in the area. Read on to find out more:



Annual Spring Thyme in the Garden

Located at the Rose Center

On Earth Day: April 22

Presented by the Garden Thyme Herb Society, this annual event is the perfect kickoff to the year’s gardening season! Buy your herbs, flowers and other plants, as well as yard art, signs, pottery and other art. There will be live music and food available, and more! Visit for more information about this and other Rose Center events.

13th Annual Strawberry Festival

Located at 510 West Economy Road

This free community event features family friendly vendors, food and events, all geared toward celebrating the year’s strawberry harvest. Visit their website for more information.


Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass

May 19 and 20

Do you enjoy live bluegrass music, world-class barbeque (seriously: this is a World Food Championship qualifier event!) and other fun festivities? Head to Sevierville this May! This year, Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be live on Saturday! Think you’ve got what it takes to win the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition? Then bring your pipes and your favorite Dolly Parton songs to sing. And don’t forget to try some amazing barbeque while you’re here. Click here for more information.

spring flower


Dogwood Arts Festival

Located on Market Square

April 28-30

This one is a regional favorite, celebrating spring and the arts! It’s a beautiful combination. This festival has plenty to do for adults and children, with public art displays, cooking demonstrations, entertainment and activities for the family, and more! Check out the site for more information.


Located at the old Candoro Marble Building in South Knoxville

Mother’s Day Weekend (May 13)

Music, art, food, hand-crafted goods and tons of history abound at this annual event. The Candoro Arts and Heritage Center was once central to the Tennessee Pink Marble industry—a fascinating subject all by itself! Whether you’re a mother or want to honor yours, this is a great event to share. Visit the website to find out more.

International Biscuit Festival

Market Square

May 20

You know you’re really in the south when you find a whole festival dedicated to biscuits. The $15 ticket pays for 5 separate biscuit samples, so come hungry and visit Biscuit Boulevard first thing! Visit the site to learn more.

Be sure to check out if you’re looking to find (or sell!) your home in East Tennessee.

The Encore Theatre Company

Today we’re spotlighting a community of artists in our neck of the woods.

Enjoying life in East Tennessee isn’t just about relaxing and taking in the sights. Many people who choose to live here work hard to make it a better place for themselves, their neighbors and their children. The Volunteer State was Tennessee’s nickname long, long before The University of Tennessee was ever dreamed up, and for good reason! People here aren’t afraid of hard work, and there are many communities that set out to prove it. Today we’re spotlighting a community of artists in our neck of the woods that helps bring together those with a love of the dramatic arts.

The Lakeway Area is known for many things: farms, lakes (of course), being the “back door” to the Smokies. But a local group of artists wanted the area to be known for more than that. They noticed that more and more artists and creative people were going out of town to practice their craft, and this was dismaying. They had a mission to provide a supportive environment for established and aspiring actors. This group of visionaries became the Encore Theatrical Company.

They believe that the economic health of an area correlates directly with quality of life, and quality of life is intricately linked to the state of arts in the area. So, in 2006, they set about to improve the quality of life in the Lakeway Area for everyone, with a thriving arts scene!

The ETC offers live, local performances throughout the year, as well as classes and workshops for kids and adults. Find out more about their mission, performances and classes here.


At the end of this month, ETC is performing a drama at the Rose Center in Morristown. Here’s the description of the play from ETC:

“Encore Theatrical Company’s newest play tells the story of a photojournalist and her war reporter boyfriend as they decide where to take their relationship after several tours of duty. From the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies, Time Stands Still is both funny and moving.

One of the masters of contemporary American theater brings us Time Stands Still. Donald Margulies’ outstanding script tells the story of Sarah, a photojournalist recuperating from a tour in the Middle East, and James, a foreign correspondent seeking a change of venue. Both are trying to find their happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy. Telling tough stories about the world at large collides with the story they have to tell about themselves and their relationship to work and to each other. Now they face tough choices about their future. Can they live a conventional life and still keep a sense of right and wrong, not to mention their sanity?”

Performances will be on April 21-30 in Rose Center’s Prater Hall. You can order tickets at 423-318-8331 or find out more at Don’t forget to check out Rose Center for more arts events and information.

Visit if you’d like to learn more about relocating to the Lakeway Area.

Landscaping in East Tennessee

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our area brings many benefits.

Spring is here! Dogwoods and redbuds are in bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere. This is an especially exciting time to be a new homeowner in East Tennessee, because you never know what beautiful plants you’ve inherited with your property until they show their pretty faces in the warm growing season!

If you’re getting inspired by our lovely, warm weather to spruce up your landscaping, consider these ideas:

Go Native!

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers that are native to our extremely biodiverse area brings many benefits. They are more likely to survive and thrive in our climate, since they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. They are also more likely to attract the pollinators. Helping pollinators like bees and butterflies with habitat and food helps us, too. Bees and butterflies not only ensure the beauty and propagation of our lovely flowers, they play a big part in growing crops that we need to eat. Check this list for ideas on native plants for your grand landscaping plan.


Buy From a Nursery

Going native doesn’t mean digging up from the woods. DON’T take plants from public land, like a national park. It’s illegal! If you have access to ferns, trees and other plants you think you’ll be able to successfully transplant on your property, then go for it. But if you’d like a little more help and even a little guarantee, go to your local nursery. Family-owned operations are likely to have great advice on what to plant where, and when. Some places (like Lowes) have guarantees on their plants, which means if you save your receipts and your plant dies within a year, you can take it back and get a replacement.

Think Big, But Start Small

Frederick Law Olmsted, when he designed the landscaping for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, thought long-term. Like, really long term: he planted stands of trees that would take a hundred years to mature. He knew he’d never see his vision completely realized, but he understood the grandeur of his legacy. If you have an acre of land you’d like to landscape, you don’t necessarily need to think of how it will look to your great-grandchildren, but do pay attention to how things will look in the next few years.


Ivy and other vines might grow out of control, swamping out other plants and slowly destroying your buildings if they are given free reign. Bamboo certainly goes rampant, requiring heavy mowing. And trees are high on the list of culprits behind unsafe foundations; the roots grow out as far as the canopy, undermining the safety of your home if they’re planted too close. Evergreens are a little safer; their root systems tend to head down instead of out. Even so, that sweet little sapling you plant this year might take off in our mild, plant-friendly climate and become a danger to your roof, sewer or foundation in as little as ten years!

Consider Goats

One of the pervasive problems in rural East Tennessee is the fast-growing, invasive vine: kudzu! The best way to get rid of it? Goats. They eat it right down to the roots.


Interested in real estate in East Tennessee? Check out Happy gardening!

Spring Buying Frenzy!

What can you do to alleviate some of the springtime house buying stress?

Spring is often perceived as the best time to buy a new home. The weather is getting sweeter, so prospective homebuyers are more willing to get out and about, checking out new neighborhoods. Plus, spring is one of the best times to showcase your home if you’re selling. The grass is growing, and trees and flowers are blooming. It’s when nature puts her best foot forward, which makes for some of the best curb appeal. Spring is also an ideal time to get set to move, because the kids will be out of school in just a handful of weeks (so you don’t have to pull them out mid-year, if you’re changing districts) and you’ll be getting ahead of all your summer vacation plans.

Red Buds will start blooming soon!

But, trouble is, LOTS of homebuyers think springtime is great for buying a new home! That can make for some really frustrating situations for buyers who put in an offer on their ideal new home, only to see it bought out from under them. So, what can you do to alleviate some of the springtime buying stress?

We found this great article about the Spring Buying Frenzy! Read on for the tips we like the best:

  • You can always wait until the buying frenzy dies down. Still tour homes and watch the trends in real estate where you think you’d like to move. Doing this homework will help you feel like you are buying exactly what you want when your deal finally does go through.
  • You can bid up. Offer above selling price to make sure your dream house isn’t snatched up by someone else. This is especially true if your prospective home is a foreclosure. It’s probably being sold below appraisal, anyway, so knock out the competition with a high offer.
  • Get some local help! Your local realtor knows the market, and knows who to turn to for the fastest results and the best loans for your circumstance. Which leads me to the next point:
  • Get pre-approved by a local lender. Although you can get a legitimate online approval, that local name cues the seller that you’re serious, and your offer is more likely to be considered.
  • Practice stress management! Don’t get so caught up in the moment that you lose perspective of the big picture. Take a walk, get a massage, have a cup of herbal tea … whatever it takes to bring you back down from panic mode. It’s easier to make good decisions when you’re calm.

If it really, truly feels like the right home for you, make the offer! That’s good advice for any prospective homebuyer, any time of the year. Conversely, if you’re on the fence, if there’s something not quite right about the property or the location, then wait a few days. The old adage, “If it’s meant to be, it will be,” is probably truer in real estate than anywhere else. You’re better off waiting for the right house to come along than you are tying yourself up in a house that’s “just ok.”

If you have questions about your house-buying strategy, or about real estate in East Tennessee, please visit

Uncommon Attractions

If your ideal vacation includes the road less traveled, read on to find out more!

If you’re considering a move to East Tennessee, or you’re a recent transplant, you might be looking around with the question, “What is there to do around here?” This blog has lots of suggestions for close-to-home attractions in the area, but sometimes you’re in the mood for a day trip.

You’re probably well aware of Tennessee’s popular tourist destinations. Dollywood and all the bright lights of Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, music galore in Nashville, Chattanooga’s #1 ranked outdoor adventure culture … all these might sound familiar to you.

But there are a few lesser-known attractions in our fair state. We checked out this page on and pulled out a few. If your ideal vacation includes the road less traveled, read on to find out more!

Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend

825 Caverns Rd.
Townsend, TN 37882
Phone: 865-448-2274
Townsend is considered by many to be the “back door” to the Smokies. Its pace is much quieter, but there are a few cool attractions there. Like the Tuckaleechee Caverns! These caverns, nicknamed the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” are reported to be 20 to 30 million years old. You can take a guided tour to view these caves on lighted walkways. Check out the website to find out more.
Back Door to the Smokies

Lost Sea in Sweetwater

140 Lost Sea Road
Sweetwater, TN 37874
Phone: 423-337-6616

Just in case you didn’t get enough of caves, Lost Sea in Sweetwater has you covered. The tour involves an underground boat-ride. If that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will! The tour takes about and hour and fifteen minutes, and you can hang out in “Old Sweetwater Village” to get your above-ground legs back after. Visit their website for details.

The Salt and Pepper Shaker and Smoky Mountain Spices in Gatlinburg

461 Brookside Village Way Winery Sq.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Contact Email:




20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers. There’s only one other place like it in the world: The Salt and Pepper Shaker sister museum in Spain! Give this place a try, even if you’re not a collector. The entertainment value might surprise you! To find out more, visit the website here.

Briarwood Ranch Safari Park in Bybee

A small, family-run affair, this drive-through safari is great entertainment for families with small kids. Though most of the time you’ll be in the car, collecting nose-prints on the windows from exotic beasts, there is an opportunity to get out at the end, to feed some of the animals, get a snack for yourself and let the kids play a little. It’s a cool opportunity to see exotic animals right here in East Tennessee! Check out the Facebook page to learn more:

You don’t need a jeep for the drive-through safari!

These are only a few of the lesser-known attractions in our area. Tennessee is full of unique and creative characters, so be prepared to bump into unusual things during your visit!

As always, contact us if you want to find out more about real estate in East Tennessee! The website is, and we’re always happy to answer your questions.

Moving Tips

We’re familiar with moving; we’ve done it tons of times and we know how stressful it can be.

Selling your old home and finding your new one are only two important steps in your relocation journey! We’re familiar with moving; we’ve done it tons of times and we know how stressful it can be. We found an article on Buzzfeed with some pretty great tips to help you feel less crazy during this chaotic time. Read on to learn about some of our favorite tips from the article:


  1. Use clothes to pad dishes. It will save packing space and the need to find extra newspapers or bubble wrap to protect your breakables. You can use your socks to pad wine glasses.
  2. Stack dishes upright (with padding between-try Styrofoam plates) instead of flat in the box. They’ll be less likely to break that way.
  3. Make sure you pack an overnight bag with a few sets of clothes, pajamas and toiletries. Chances are that no matter how carefully you move and unpack your things, you’ll be so tired by the end of the day you won’t feel like searching for those essentials. Give your future tired self a hand!
  4. If you can, clean your new bathroom and stock it with towels, soap, toilet paper and a shower curtain ahead of time. You’ll want the luxury of easy-to-reach bathroom essentials and a hot shower at the end of your moving day!
  5. Pack a designated “stuff I need” box. Or, better yet, use a clear bin. Put in tape, markers, a box cutter, hammer and nails, measuring tape … stuff you’ll need to get the house set up over the next few days.kw_zqbachws-ashim-d-silva.jpg
  6. Turn your drawers into moving boxes! Use plastic wrap or “press-n-seal” wrap to seal your clothes in.
  7. Label the boxes optimally. Write what’s in it, and which room they belong in on both the lid and sides, so you can still see the label if the boxes are stacked.
  8. If you need to defrost the fridge, do it a couple of days ahead of time to give you a chance to clean it and wipe up any drips.
  9. If you have a lot of valuable antiques and art to move, hire a moving company. They’ll have the specialty supplies for packing and moving that stuff, and are insured. It’s much better for your personal relationships if put a professional in charge of taking care of valuables/breakables. For all the other stuff, sure! Pay your brother-in-law and best friend in pizza to help you out.
  10. This might be the cardinal rule of moving: get packed and completely ready to go BEFORE everyone shows up to help you! Don’t make people wait as you pack. They’re bound to get annoyed and you’ll be more anxious.


Visit for more information about real estate in East Tennessee, and happy moving!


History Field Trip: Morristown, Tennessee

Read on to see where you can soak up some local history.

During a recent visit to, I noticed a great section of the site called “History and Heritage.” When I clicked on the link to see what historic gems the fair city of Morristown has to offer, I noticed the site’s list format of historic locations makes it perfect for planning a field trip! Read on to see where you can soak up some local history. Who knows! Maybe you’ll be inspired to get out of the house.

1. Crockett Tavern Museum

2002 Morningside Dr.


We wrote about the Crockett Tavern Museum on the blog, here. It’s a replica of the Crockett family home and a venue for special events throughout the year. Visit the website for information about visiting hours, and the volunteers, who are always happy to teach the curious about one of our local historical heroes.

Crockett Tavern Museum

2. Bethesda Church & Cemetery

4990 Bethesda Road


The Bethesda Church was used as a makeshift hospital for wounded soldiers during the civil war, and there are 82 unknown soldiers buried here. It’s designated as a stop on the Tennessee Civil War Trail.

3. General Longstreet’s Headquarters Museum

5915 E. Andrew Johnson Highway


In the winter of 1863-64, this house saw history being made. General Longstreet of the Confederate army used the building as his headquarters during that time. The house is now a museum, and a featured stop on the Civil War Tour in East Tennessee.

4. Historic Main Street and Crossroads Downtown Partnership

PO Box 1893


We featured Morristown’s Skymart and historic Main Street district on the blog, here. The elevated sidewalks are pretty cool, and throughout the year there are free family events worth checking out.

5.The Meeting Place Museum and Old Country Store

138 W. Main St.


Hungry? This is a great place to grab a wrap and see some intriguing Tennessee history at the same time. It’s also available as a venue. See their website for more details.

6. Morristown Cemetery

601 E. Sixth North St.

Many of Morristown’s own residents may not realize that places they pass by every day are the sites of vicious Civil War battles. The Battle of Morristown was fought by mostly East Tennesseans on both sides of the divide, making it one of many battles in that bloody war where family fought against family. Visit this site to learn more about this historic battle. For a real-life experience, visit the Morristown Cemetery, high ground that was used by both Union and Confederate forces as a camp site. Both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried there.

Morristown Cemetery

Morristown, agricultural and industrial hub that it is, was touched directly by the Civil War. It played an important role in nurturing the people who went on to settle the Wild West, and was itself part of the Frontier for a brief time in history. It’s a pretty comfortable place to live now, but that wasn’t always the case! It’s amazing to think about how different our lives are compared to what our ancestors experienced.


Visit for information about real estate in Morristown, Tennessee.



Staging Your Home to Sell

Have the potential buyer imagining hosting dinner parties or just spending quiet evenings with friends and family. has this great article about staging your home to sell it fast. Some of the ideas are a little extreme, such as replacing the bathroom sink, but others might be just what you need to spark interest in the perfect buyer. Let’s look at a few of their tips.


  1. Boost curb appeal.

The outside of your home is the first thing any prospective buyer will see. You don’t have to go all out on landscaping. Even simple maintenance, like pulling weeds from the flower bed and power-washing your siding can send a welcoming message. You might have to spend a little extra time and money if, for example, the porch needs repainting or repair. Set out a nice welcome mat and a potted plant, but don’t go overboard: the idea is to welcome the potential buyer, not overwhelm them.

  1. Clean house!

Do a really good job with this step; you don’t want potential buyers to miss out on your great home because they were grossed out by the dust bunnies and grimy bathroom. Put your house’s best foot forward.

  1. Join the minimalist movement.

This is actually a great idea for your moving strategy, too. Clear out the clutter. Put it in storage if you have to. Better yet, get rid of it! Have a yard sale, post it on Craig’s List, donate it to an area charity. Your potential buyer will be better able to see their stuff in your house if it’s not full of your stuff.

  1. Don’t get rid of everything.

Keep a couple of tables, chairs, lamps, even a couple of framed pictures. Check out your favorite home goods catalogs and imitate some of the inviting pictures. Put a vase of flowers or basket of apples out on the counter. There’s a tricky balance between showing a buyer what your house looks like and what their house would look like (if they bought it!) Completely blank rooms are uninspiring.


  1. Stage your rooms.

Arrange furniture into a little conversation nook in the living room. Spruce up the dining room table with flowers. You can even set the table with pretty china. Have the potential buyer imagining hosting dinner parties or just spending quiet evenings with friends and family in these inviting spaces.

  1. Don’t neglect the bedrooms.

You might absolutely love shabby chic flowers in the master bedroom, but if your prospective buyers are into modernism they could be turned off by your décor. It’s not a bad idea to paint the bedrooms neutral colors (you don’t have to stick with white, unless you want to.) Clean out the closets, too. (See number 3!) Buyers care a lot about closets, so showcase yours.

  1. Clean up toys and pet gear.

Yes, kids and pets make a house warm and loving, but having their stuff everywhere might seem cluttered or even dirty to a potential buyer. At least corral your little and/or furry residents’ stuff in bins. And if your dog’s favorite bed is a little, well … stinky, then consider getting a new one or banishing it to the garage until the house sells.


The full article has lots more ideas. Check it out to learn more. And, as always, visit for listings in upper East Tennessee!

Historic Skymart in Morristown, Tennessee

The historic Main Street part of Morristown feels tucked away and hidden, but it’s conveniently central.

Winter temperatures in Tennessee fluctuate dramatically. This week it’s in the 50s and 60s, which is downright balmy! With the mild temps, right now might be the ideal time to check out a unique feature of the Morristown, Tennessee landscape: the historic “Skymart District.”

Originally, this overhead system of sidewalks that connect the upper floors of Morristown’s historic downtown buildings to pedestrian traffic, as well as serving as concrete umbrellas for the street-level traffic, was conceived as a novel way to lure in shoppers from the newly built shopping mall. This sounds like a modern story of battling urban sprawl, and it is: it’s a “mid-century modern” story. The soaring sidewalks were built in the 1960s with a multi-million dollar investment from both business owners and the city. Read more about the project here.


Most of the business and property owners from that revitalization era have sold the properties. They left their mark, though. Iconic store names and distinctive architectural styles are still visible in the tile entrances and facades of the buildings on Main Street. Painted advertisements on the brick walls are beacons of history. Today there is an eclectic mix of residential and commercial use in these historic buildings.

The elevated sidewalks really are cool, and they offer perspectives of the town you might not otherwise get to see. They’re worth a visit all by themselves.

But historic Main Street in Morristown has other charms, too. If antiques are your thing, you’ll find something worth browsing. There are fun restaurants and event venues, as well as local art and boutiques. Some businesses have been there long enough to become Morristown cultural icons, like Trinkets and Treasures. Wedding dresses, prom dresses and formal gowns are just the beginning: the joint East/West high schools’ spring musical brings budding actors in for costumes as well.


High end jewelry, paint-your-own pottery, quirky gifts … the unique backdrop of Historic Downtown attracts all kinds.

Java Garden, also in the Main Street district, has earned a reputation as a great place to see local acts while enjoying, you guessed it, a good cup of java. During the warmer months there is a garden space for al fresco dining, but grabbing an inside table is just as nice. It’s arguably one of the best parts of winter that we can go inside a cozy, warm café and coffee joint to warm up after the abuse of a cold, wet winter day.


In the summer months there are outdoors events, like free concerts, on the Skymart sidewalks, as well as other local food and family-friendly events. Go to the Historic Downtown Morristown official blog for schedules and event descriptions, here.

The historic Main Street part of Morristown feels tucked away and hidden, but it’s conveniently central, between East Morris Boulevard and Andrew Johnson Highway. It combines the best of two worlds: shopping and browsing with a walk in the sunshine. Definitely worth a look.

Interested in real estate in the Morristown area? Check out to browse listings or contact Darlene Reeves-Kline.