Things We Love About Christmas in Tennessee

Things we love about our Tennessee Christmas.

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Christmas in Tennessee is pretty special. Gone are the days when Southern Appalachia was isolated from the bigger, more modern world. Even those of us who live up in the hollers and hills have high-speed internet and satellite television! Our Great-Mamaws and Papaws might have cut an old cedar down and decorated it with strings of popcorn, and stuffed old, rough-spun stockings with horehound candy and the occasional coveted orange, but we’re all spoiled with ready-made decorations and treats these days.

Even with our modern ways of celebrating, there are still some mighty special things about this time of year in Tennessee. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite things about Christmas in Tennessee.  Read on to rev up your holiday spirit!

Sparkling Frost

Sometimes we have snow on Christmas, and sometimes it’s warm enough to drink our eggnog out in the sun! But, usually, Christmastime in Tennessee is a time to wake up to frost covering grass and trees, bursting into sparkling brilliance in the sunshine. It’s gorgeous and brisk, and it makes cuddling by the fire so much better.

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Old-Time Christmas

We have our share of modern life: malls, shopping, even laser light shows! You can tech it up as much as you’d like this holiday season, but if you ever want to slow down just a bit and enjoy the simpler things in life, we do that, too. We have old-fashioned parades and candlelight celebrations. You can go to the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, Tennessee, to see how folks ‘round here used to spend their holidays. You can enjoy the pleasures of a live choir concert at Walters State and Carson Newman—and, of course, at local schools and churches, too!

Dollywood

It’s big, and it’s flashy, but there’s no denying you’ll feel that festive tingle as soon as you get there! Dollywood does the holiday season to the max, with tons of live stage shows, millions of bright lights, locally made crafts and seasonal snacks and drinks. It’s worth a visit for the whole family!

Music

Tennessee is the birthplace of country music, and here is where you’ll find all the banjo, mandolin, dobro, dulcimer and any other down-home style music you can cut a rug to! Christmas music is even sweeter with that Appalachian twang.

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Family Time

Don’t get us wrong; right up until Christmas we’re running around like chickens with our heads cut off! Church and school plays and concerts, gift shopping, parties and get-togethers, cooking, wrapping, decorating … we know how to do it up, just like any other part of the world this time of year! But when it comes to the special day, we spend it with our cherished family and community. We reflect on what matters most to us, and even though we love to give bountifully, we understand it’s not all about the stuff.

 

Interested in finding a new home in East Tennessee for the holidays? Get started at DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Make Your List and Check it Twice!

Stay off the financial naughty list by making sure these things are taken care of!

So, it’s December y’all! The last month of the year. This is the month for holiday decorations, for cheer and good times, and for parties.

It’s also … the last month of the year. And even though we’d like to spend our time shopping, baking and generally enjoying our loved ones, it’s important to make sure all the year’s financial considerations have been taken care of, especially if you bought or sold a home in 2017. Read on for a few considerations in closing out the year on good financial footing!

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Real Estate Gains

Most people won’t have to worry about paying taxes if you earned money from the sale of your new home. As this article points out, only gains above $250,000.00 (or $500,000.00 if you file with your spouse) require taxes to be paid. There are other rules to consider, too: your house must have been your primary residence for two to five years, for example, for the gains to be tax exempt. If there are any other complicating factors, such as divorce or inheritance, it’s very important to make sure you’ve covered all your fees and taxes. To be absolutely sure you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted your i’s when it comes to paying taxes on real estate gains, make sure you consult with your tax professional soon!

Consider Taking a (Polar) Plunge

If you’ve been putting off buying your new home, now might be the time to jump on it. Why? Because that home could be as much as 12% cheaper now than it will be in the summer, according to this article. While there are more houses on the market in the summer, largely because families prefer to make their move in between school years, if you’ve found your perfect place in the winter, pounce on it!

Change of address!

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If you moved this year, there might be a few places you overlooked while changing your address. Don’t worry, Santa will probably still find you. (He can fly all around the world in one night and get into houses without chimneys; he can find you in your new neighborhood!) But you want to be sure your 2017 W2 forms will find you, too. Here’s a change-of-address list from Moveline.com to check twice:

    Your place of employment

Your financial institution

Your credit card companies

Your utilities, cable, phone and internet providers

Your doctor, dentist, optometrist and other medical professionals you see regularly

Your health insurance company

Your life insurance company

Your vision/dental/catastrophic insurance company

Your car insurance company

Your rental or home insurance company

Your child’s school

Your child’s doctor, babysitter, music instructor, and others who provide paid services

Your pet’s veterinarian and kennel

Your alma mater

Circulation departments of magazines, newspapers and catalogues you subscribe to

Anyone who may need to send you final bills or info about their professional services in your new area

Friends & family, particularly those who go through the trouble to send holiday cards and paper invitations

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Now that you’ve taken care of all that, feel free to toast yourself with a bit of eggnog and get to wrapping presents! Luckily, you can re-purpose some of your moving boxes for gift boxes.

Of course, if you’re ready to start out 2018 in a new home in East Tennessee, go to DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

 

 

Black Friday Options in East Tennessee

Wondering how East Tennesseans do Black Friday?

For some in East Tennessee, Black Friday isn’t complete without the extreme competitive shopping: being the very first customer, getting those crazy door buster deals, and using your new shopping bags full of loot as weapons to fight your way to the next store and the next crazy deal! Some people sit down with the Black Friday store ads after Thanksgiving dinner like a war general, mapping out a plan for their shopping battles to come. But where do they go? If they live in the Lakeway Area, there are more shopping options than you might think. And if you’re new to the area, here are a few ideas to get started.

Morristown

In Morristown, WalMart is always a classic option for Black Friday deals. College Square Mall is full of retailers for your cut-throat shopping pleasure. With that option, you can even come down from the shopping adrenaline with lunch and an afternoon movie.

Strap on Your Shopping Shoes

For even more shopping options, you can hop on the interstate for a drive just under an hour and check out the outlets in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge. Warning: they’re very, very crowded this time of year! Expect long lines on the road and in (and winding along the sidewalk outside) stores. But often people find great deals, so if you can bring your patience, it might be worth the hassle.

Knoxville

Knoxville has West Town and Knoxville Center malls, as well as the Turkey Creek shopping district for your shopping pleasure. Not as crazy as Sevierville, but bound to be more crowded than Morristown.

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Small Businesses

Don’t forget shopping small! Lots of small businesses in the Main Street and Historic districts of Morristown, Dandridge and other smaller burgs roll out the savings for Small Business Saturday, but they’re worth a stop in on Black Friday, too. You never know what delightful little gifts you might find there. Plus, the smaller stores come with a laid-back atmosphere, even on a shopping-crazed weekend like this one.

Don’t be Afraid to Split Up.

Especially in the Sevierville and Pigeon Forge area, there are tons of museums, mini-golf spots, go-cart tracks and more ways to entertain those in your family much less inclined to go shopping. Take advantage of these close-by entertainment options to give you more shopping time!

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Don’t forget about #OptOut!

REI, and other outdoors outfitters, have created a movement that lets their employees spend Thanksgiving and the day after with their families. They close their doors and encourage both employees and patrons alike to go outside for a game of Frisbee, a bike ride or (of course!) a hike in our majestic state parks. Even though the leaves are down and the fall weather is crisp, this is a great time of year to enjoy our great outdoors. The stark beauty is every bit as enjoyable as the lush summertime. And, hey, the bugs are pretty much all hibernating at this point, so you can leave the bug spray at home!

Looking for a home in the Lakeway Area? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com and let’s get started!

 

A Tennessean Thanksgiving History

Thanksgiving wasn’t widely celebrated in Tennessee until the late-1800s.

Our lovely corner of Tennessee (in case you’re wondering, our corner is the upper East one) is full of transplants from all over the country. People move in for the beauty, the usually pleasant weather, the comfortable cost of living and the laid-back lifestyle. It’s a great place for families, too, with our country traditions.

But some of our most cherished traditions are transplanted here, just like many of our citizens. It might surprise you, but Thanksgiving was considered a Yankee holiday until pretty recently in our country’s history!

Even when the rest of the country—Michigan, New York, Ohio territories—were digging in to turkey dinners each fall in celebration of the early Massachusetts settlers, Tennessee didn’t join in. (Volunteers we might be, but Tennesseans have always marched to the beat of their own, mountain-made drum.) In fact, most of the South shunned Thanksgiving.

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According to the website SeriousEats.com, an author by the name of Sara Josepha Hale launched a personal crusade in the 1800s to nationalize Thanksgiving as a holiday, to be set at one, unified date each November.

It’s difficult to imagine a country divided over a holiday like Thanksgiving, but in the mid-1800s, we were in a period of political, religious and cultural turmoil. Many Southerners considered Thanksgiving to be bound up in the push for Abolitionist views, and rebelled against the holiday. (Remember when we said Tennesseans march to our own beat? Many will be surprised to learn that a Quaker in Jonesborough, Tennessee published the first newspaper in the country devoted to the Abolitionist movement. It was called The Emancipator.)

Adding to the alienation most Southerners felt in regard to the holiday was the Thanksgiving feast itself, full of cranberries and pumpkin pie and generally fare that wasn’t typically seen on a Southern table.

Thanksgiving didn’t become universally accepted in America until after the Civil War. In fact, Abraham Lincoln himself tipped his hat (metaphorically) to the tenacious Sara Josepha Hale and ultimately declared Thanksgiving to be a national holiday. As a result of the political tumult surrounding the War Between the States, Thanksgiving was only patchily observed, at best, in the South. Eventually, though, the lure of turkey dinners and the sweet homecoming that Thanksgiving offers to many families won out.

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The traditional Southern Thanksgiving meal still includes recipes original to New England, like cranberry sauce and even oyster stuffing. Many Southerners still rebel a bit, though, adding in cornbread and pimiento wherever they can. Few things can bring people together like good food, and remembering that even us mountain-southerners wouldn’t be here without the first Yankees surviving their harrowing first winter makes us enjoy that second piece of pie even more.

So the next time you think your family talks about politics too much around the Thanksgiving dinner table, remember this fine holiday was adopted nationally during the Civil War! Political arguments are as American as pumpkin pie.

Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find your perfect home for the holidays. And Happy Thanksgiving!

Fall Gardening in Tennessee

There’s a lot to be done in your East Tennessee garden during the cold-weather months.

It’s certainly no secret that four of our most attractive reasons for folks transplanting to East Tennessee is our four, distinct, lovely seasons. Each one brings a unique beauty: the abundance and cheerfulness of spring, the lush, warm summers, the crisp, colorful autumns and the starkly beautiful winters with sparkling frost and occasional blanketing snows.

For those folks who love to experience nature from the soil of their own gardens, November is no time to stay inside.

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We’re in full-on fall now, and although you won’t see the bright, cheery blossoms and buds we usually associate with Tennessee gardens in about five more months or so, there’s a lot to be done in your garden during the cold-weather months. Read on to find out more!

Trim the Trees

We haven’t had our first hard frost yet, but take note when we do. After that is when you should get out the clippers and chain saw and get to pruning. The sap has retreated from the outer branches, so now is the healthiest time for your trees to get trimmed. This will help your lovely spring bloomers to be even more beautiful when warm weather swings back around.

Tip: Some tree-trimmers go a little nuts, pruning all the smaller branches way back. The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture calls this a no-no. Be gentle with how much you cut. A little bit stimulates the tree; too much traumatizes it.

Plant Bulbs

Willow Ridge, a Knoxville-based landscaping company, gives this information about spring-flowering bulbs:

Crocus, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips are all bulbs that we plant in the fall in East Tennessee. They need the cool of winter in order to bloom and also need time to establish a healthy root system. Plant them when temperatures are below 65 degrees either in the ground or in containers.

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Edible Garden Maintenance

Now is the time to cover your tender strawberry plants with straw and cover your cool-weather garden with frost blankets—if you want to extend their growing time. This year, you may have a few more weeks until you really need to get after these tasks; it’s been fairly warm so far.

Basic Maintenance

Now is the time to trim back dead plants and cover beds with three inches of mulch. Don’t pile the mulch up on the bases of your trees and crowns of plants. They don’t really like it, and the mulch gives pests the perfect cover to nibble away at them.

Feathered Friends

We have an abundance of lovely birds here in East Tennessee! Brighten your dreary winter days with a colorful garden show: keep your bird feeders filled with seed all winter. Keep water in the bird baths, too; birds will continue to need it throughout the upcoming winter months. You can also put out some fruit slices for an extra treat.

For more details about maintaining your garden through the fall and winter, check out this article from Tennessee Home & Farm.

Looking for your new home in East Tennessee? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. Happy Fall, Y’All!

What Retirees Want!

You might be surprised at today’s retiree’s choices.

Most people, when they hear about retirees moving or looking to buy a new home, imagine somewhere sunny, with palm trees, and something small, like a condo or considerably downsized house. According to this survey on Forbes.com, performed in 2015, those antiquated ideas are way off!

So what are today’s retirees into, when it comes to this new phase of home life?

Staying Put

Surprisingly, most boomers choose not to relocate to a new state when buying a new home. And downsizing is becoming a myth! Many of today’s retirees choose a similar-sized home, or even one that is a little bigger. Why? To make room for visitors, family, and even hobbies. In fact, the most popular home improvement project for a retiree is adding on a personal office!

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Less retirees are choosing this scene for their daily lives.

Freedom Threshold

It’s no surprise that the boomer generation rejects the old view of retirement: relaxing in the sun, living in a tiny condo. Today’s retiree has planned meticulously to live their lives to the fullest! They are choosing lifestyles based on the things they like and want, instead of living where they have an easy commute to work or better access to schools for their kids. This mindset is called the Freedom Threshold.

The biggest advantage of reaching the Freedom Threshold? Living longer! Stats show that retirees aren’t just fading away after punching their last time card. Instead, they’re living longer, fuller lives, and choosing dream homes they’ve saved for instead of just settling for something tiny.

So what is the biggest motivator for retirees when choosing their next home? Proximity to family. Retirees who stay in-state do so to be close to family, and 29% those who move away have the same reason: to follow family.

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Survey says: family is the most important factor in retirees deciding where to live.

Not Just Fun and Games

Proximity of family is also on this checklist of things to consider when planning a retirement relocation, on CNBC.com. In addition, if you’re looking to make a major lifestyle change (in addition to retiring!) keep in mind differences in taxes from state to state, and whether keeping your original residence to rent out or selling it outright will be more advantageous.

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Even though schools and work commute are no longer as important, you should still weigh your options carefully.

Medical care is also a major consideration. Even if you plan to snowbird north for the summer or south for the winter, you shouldn’t rely only on doctors in your home state. Even in rural areas, Tennessee has good access to emergency care, and clinics and hospitals are a short drive in most locations. But, still, do your homework and make sure you like the local medical care before committing!

Consider East Tennessee

Here in East Tennessee, the same mild climate, beautiful landscape, low cost of living and pleasant standard of living—including tons of stuff to do!—are good for both young, working families and those looking to retire. In Tennessee, you can get the best of both worlds: staying close to family, and living well on a fixed income!

 

If you’re looking to retire in East Tennessee, and you want to find your dream home, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help.

Heating Bill Comparison

Let’s take a look at the cost of heating our homes in East Tennessee.

It’s officially Fall, Y’All, and it’s the time of year for lovely leaves (which haven’t reached their peak yet,) gorgeous, bright harvest moons, and crisp nights and mornings. We haven’t yet hit a hard frost this season, and lots of people stay comfy even in the chillier weather by shutting their windows and bundling up in warm sweaters and socks.

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But we know the real cold is on its way! And, since we’re proud of how affordable the cost of living here in Tennessee is, we thought we’d take a look at how much it costs to heat a home in our fair state. Electricity Local is a website that compares the cost of electricity, and how much electricity is used, with the rest of the country. According to them, Tennesseans spend an average of $123 per month on the household electric bill. If you read further, you’ll notice that’s actually higher than the average electric bill in America, by a little over 14%.

But wait, didn’t we say bills are lower, here?

They are! The rate for electricity in Tennessee averages 10.1 cents/kWh, ranking us 37th in the nation. That’s pretty good. Our cost for electricity is about 15% lower than the average in this country. And, because the cost of electricity is more affordable, more people use electric means (like heat pumps) to heat their homes in the cooler months!

If you opt to subsidize your heating needs with gas, or good old firewood, then your electric bill will be even lower. We also have plenty of choices in Tennessee for solar power, which can be purchased on a lease-to-own basis or with a lump sum. Going this route means your electric bills will dwindle down to nil. In many cases, solar power consumers get paid by TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), because their solar panels produce enough power to sell some back to the grid! That’s a pretty sweet way to put our average of 204 days of sunshine per year to good use.

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But, what about other sources of heat for the home? Around here, natural gas is pretty popular. It delivers heat quickly. In comparing the cost of gas with electricity, we can check out Energy Models, a website that specializes in this sort of thing. The biggest challenge in the comparison is that electricity is measured by kWh, and natural gas rates come in dollars per therm. Those aren’t easily convertible units! We went to this website for a better explanation:

There are 100,000 Btus per therm of natural gas. There are 3413 Btus per kilowatt hour of electricity.

To Calculate The Comparison:

Multiply the cost per kilowatt hour X 29.3 to get the cost of 100,000 Btus of electricity and compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

Example: If your cost of electricity is $.08 per Kwh, then multiply $.08 X 29.3 = $2.34 for 100,000 Btus of electricity, then compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

The upshot is this: natural gas is, actually, cheaper to use in heating your home. BUT, installing a natural gas heater, and maintenance, too, costs more money.

 

If you want to make East Tennessee your home this fall, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com!