Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Tour: Nashville

Opryland Hotel, Nashville, TN
Christmas Day, 2009

All of these holiday posts are so, so out of order. But, this is one of favorite moments!

Part of the "Our First Christmas" Holiday Tour

Holiday Tour: Christmas Eve

After a day of wrapping at home with Kristen...
After Christmas Eve dinner at Aubrey's...
After service at Grace Lutheran...
After Sweets & Spirits with friends...
Before we exchanged gifts with each other and Harding...
A new holiday tradition - Christmas Eve Service at Second Presbyterian Church.


Part of the "Our First Christmas" National Tour.

Photo Credit

Holiday Tour: Matt & Joanna

In the midst of celebrating the season and our families, we're celebrating Matt and Joanna's marriage in Memphis!

Part of the "Our First Christmas" National Tour.

Photo Credit

Holiday Tour: Abingdon, IL

Abingdon, Illinois. Home of high school sweetheart Marlene and Jerry Landon.

No, it's not Knox County,'s Knox County, IL. Brad and I join my parents and brothers in a holiday visit to my Grandma Ce. Here's to making the hometown newspaper and to sharing wedding plans with Aunt Debbie for Whitney's big day.

Part of the "Our First Christmas" National Tour.

Photo Credit
(thanks for Aunt Donna for her work with the Abingdon Historical Society)

Holiday Tour: Obion, TN

Obion County Tennessee (View from Main Street in Union City, 1954 and Today)

This is home of Brad's family, his grandparent's farm, and my new favorite place!
Part of the "Our First Christmas" National Tour.

Photo Credit

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 84: Christmas Eve Eve

In the midst of getting engaged, Christmas has seemed so different. The idea of "waiting" has never been more real. As a result, Advent has taken on a whole new meaning. It's been great and really impactful. But, this blog entry is not going to be all about the deal significance. This blog entry is about the fun little moments of Christmas Eve in Knoxville.
4:00 pm, Left work early and went to a certain store that will remain nameless (in case my mother is reading) to shop with my dad for my mom. So, so fun. I've always be able and willing to help with some shopping. But it's even more fun to do it in person.
6:30 pm, catch up with KK. Talk about life and all the drama of the last week. Then, exchange gifts. She got me a necklace with my future monogram on it!
7:30 pm, Christmas time with David and Ashley. Brad got David a Bama hat and David got him an organge sweater (aka almost UT orange). Ashley's gift was also from Alabama - the Junior League of Birmingham's cookbook. Meanwhile, she got me a lovely book also about entertaining - aka weddings!
11:00pm - Toddy's Back Door Tavern's Eve Eve Party. It's legendary. It was packed. All I can say is...I definately live here now! Oh, and if you are wondering why you didn't get a save the date - we only sent out 100 and most of them went to family or out of town. Seriously Joe.

Disclaimer: I typed this post straight into the blog. I bet it has even more typos than usual. Here's to life unedited.

83: S&W Grand

Brad and I ate here the night we got engaged. Tuesday, I took my mom there for lunch. It's on the short list for our wedding reception - the ceiling changes color in the ball room, it has a great view of Gay Street, and the pig and biscuit is outstanding. It reopened this fall after 28 years. It's so downtown Knoxville. So part of the passion of the city, the history of the people, and the rebirth of Gay Street.

Here's a little about it from Knoxville New Sentential Article on the reopening...

"Meet your friends here" was the sign in the lobby that for decades greeted patrons of the former S&W Cafeteria on Gay Street.

Meant to convey an atmosphere of fun and friendliness, a replica of the sign hangs once again as new owners have attempted to restore the local landmark that sat empty for 28 years to its former glory.

The S&W Grand, owned by siblings Brian and Stephanie Balest, who own Northshore Brasserie in West Knoxville, and Shane Robertson, the Brasserie's executive chef, is expected to open its doors this week, drawing some folks downtown for the first time in years.

"It will really be a great thing for people to be able to be there again," said developer John Craig of 500 Block LLC, a local firm heading up the $4.5 million restoration project that includes the S&W and two adjacent buildings. "As a preservationist, it's as good as it gets because it really gets to the heart of why preservation matters and that is you are preserving people's pasts."

The former S&W, with its fresh flowers in the front window and live organ music, was a favorite meeting and eating place for decades.

Young women would come in with their hats and gloves and eat before shopping or taking in a movie.

Businessmen would come in for lunch while more than a dozen civic and social clubs held regular meetings there.

"Anything that happened in Knoxville happened at the S&W," said Pilot Corp. founder Jim Haslam, who recalled going to the S&W at least once a week for lunch and once a week for dinner. "I've probably eaten 1,500 meals here. This was a great place and I think it will be a great addition to downtown."

PS - Love this photocredit too

The day’s in between….snowfall, tea, and 2010

Well, we didn’t get any in Spartanburg, but inbetween all these wall posts, snow was derailing my plans to be in Spartanburg for work and fun. Once I finally got there, there were results from a great Rice Bowls campaign at Grace Management and lots of brainstorming for work in 2010. On the personal side there was the annual girls’ Christmas tea at the Tillers, a sweet gift with my future monogram, some wedding daydreaming, and lots of Bridesmaid and Junior Bridesmaid asking!!
After days of trying and being detoured by the Asheville/Johnson City Snow…it was worth it!

"Friends are God's Way of Taking Care of Us."
So glad you girls will be part of our wedding. Here's to braclets, ornaments, and "verses".

Day 80: Long’s Drugstore

It’s a legend. Knoxville artists have immortalized it. It’s the place for West High School kids to see and be seen before school. Freshmen football players at the University of Tennessee day dream about having their picture on the wall above the cash register. And it takes decades to become thought of as a “regular”.
It’s a Knoxville icon…but I had never been.
But now, in the midst of holiday errands, open houses, and mailing our “Save the Dates”. Brad and I made my first trip to Long’s Drugstore.
Coincidentally, when I was writing notes that morning, I got out my “Knoxville” note cards. I used the Long’s Drugstore notecard that very day! I am very sad I can't share the vintage image from that card with you. It's a rootbeer float with the store's logo on it. Oh well...

Day 79: Dori’s Bachelorette Party

A great cabin, up a steep hill + Japanese Hibachi dinner with the girls
+ Airbrushed T-shirts + Lots and Lots of Pink + Bridemaids, Bridesmaids, Bridemaids and a Guestbook girl….Hmmm…it most have been a Bachelorette party.
Dori’s getting married!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 77: Knoxville's Historic Homes...and the Rule of Engagement

We're getting married in July. It will be hot. My father's principle request is nothing that is stressful if it rains. All that is to say, an outdoor wedding is probably not really in our plans. But, one thing I have learned in the week and a half since we got engaged (See Day# 65) is this: people are going to give you their wedding advice and ideas. It does not matter if you want them. And often times, they are just more interested in reliving their happy moments of their wedding...or their daughters...or their sisters...or their coworker's son's frat brother. So, it's a great opportunity to do 2 things:

1. Let someone enjoy a happy memory.
It my chance to bring joy to their day. Just let them talk.

2. Learn about your city. Rediscover Rocky Top!

For example, I had no idea how many historic homes Knoxville had. I doubt Brad and I will married or have our reception at any of these sites, but here are some really cool places to learn about, right in our backyard. I want to visit them all!

James White Fort
"James White, The Founder of Knoxville, came here in the early 1780's from North Carolina. He had fought in the Revolutionary War and was given a land grant of 1,000 acres for his service. He built his 2-story log house on the present site of Knoxville in 1786..."
Quote credit

Ramsey House
"Ramsey House was built in 1797 by Knoxville's first builder, Thomas Hope, for Francis Alexander Ramsey. The structure is significant for original interior and exterior architectural features and its period decorative art collection.
The Ramsey Family was one of the first families to settle the Knoxville area. They played vital roles in developing civic, educational and cultural institutions. Colonel Francis A. Ramsey was one of the founding trustees of Blount College, now the University of Tennessee..."
Quote Credit

And More!
There is also Crescent Bend (were Alisss and Josh got married!), the Mabry Hazen House (which still contain original furniture from the 19th century), and Marble Spring (the home of Governor John Sevier).

Honestly, I feel like I am back in Tennessee History class!
Photo Credit

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 76: Adella's

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17
It's Tuesday. That means I am excited. Tonight I am heading to "the farm." Adella will open her house. Some fun, honest women will come in. We'll eat some great salad. We'll laugh. Then, we'll open the Bible. We'll read the Truth. She'll ask, "What do you do with that?"
It's not about looking good or having the right answers. It's not about making Jesus what we want Him to be. It's about being real, coming as you are, and asking real questions.
In so many ways, this group of women is reminding me of how God is always growing us, sharpening us, "preserving" us - sometimes is really new ways, sometimes in really familiar ways.
Get ready, the ground is gonna shake.

Monday, December 14, 2009

75: Best Bagels in Town

...yep, they sure are. And I officially into a routine and finally think I am a "regular" at my new favorite bagel shop.

Anna, Alex, Stac, Emily, Amanda, Leah, Allison...please visit.

Day 74: Altruda's

My fiance sure can pick some good Italian. I have always loved Altruda's. Knoxville's best Italian and one of West Knoxville's best places period. Spaghetti with mushrooms topped off with ricotta cheese. Perfect dinner. Perfect day.

Day 73: Dori and Alissa

"We'll, I guess we've been friends since 1983..."
What a great way to start a sentence. That was the way it went down on Saturday. It was Dori's bridal shower, given by Alissa and I and our mothers. The six of us had just a perfect time. Lots of church friends. Lots of reliving Alissa's September wedding to Josh. Lots of sharing the details of my engagement to Brad. Lots of excitement about Kelsey's January due date. But most of all, lots of celebrating Dori, her mom, their wonderful family and friendship, and Dori's upcoming marriage to Wes.
January we come!

PS - There were also matching aprons and nativity scenes. Pictures to follow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 68-72: Spreading the news and 20 questions

"We're engaged!"
When you tell people you are engaged, they hug you. Then, they start asking you questions. So, here's the questions and answers to more than "20 questions" that people are asking right now.

1. What’s the date? July 10, 2010
2. Where are ya’ll getting married? Knoxville, TN
3. Where are you going to have it? We’re enjoying our engagement. No planning until after Christmas!
4. Are you going to have a big wedding? Please see #3.
5. Where you surprised? Shocked!
6. What are you colors going to be? Please see #3.
7. When did you tell your parents? They were waiting for us at a post-proposal party
8. Did anyone else know? I think the majority of west Knoxville knew. I on the other hand, had no idea.
9. Who is your caterer? Please see #3
10. What kind of dress do you want? Please see #3
11. It’s not a diamond? No, I didn’t want a diamond. It’s a sapphire.
12. Didn’t Princess Diana have a sapphire engagement ring? As a matter of fact, yes, she did.
13. Where are ya’ll going to register? Please see #3
14. Is Harding (the dog) going to be in the wedding? Please see #3
15. Oh man, seven months! I bet you are already stressed? No. See #3
16. Have you seen ­­________ (insert wedding website, blog, magazine)? Please see #3
17. What kind of wedding do you want? Please see #3…wait, no, I’ll answer that one. We are going to have a fabulous wedding!
18. Are you excited? Have you met me? Of course I am excited!!
19. Is your mom excited? Judging from the multiple engagement magazines she pulled out last weekend, I’d say she is pretty excited.
20. Is Brad excited? Yes. I think he’s enjoying a victory lap after pulling off the best, multi-site, complex-timing, wow-factor-achieved proposal ever.
21. I am so excited you are getting married!
Thanks, and how are you?
Well, Can you keep a secret?
We’re pregnant!!
This is my favorite one. But it’s a secret, can’t tell you who it is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Proposal (Part VI): Timing

You asked for it. Now you've got it. Our engagement story. In installments. Unedited. Uncensored. Filled with typos not doubt.
Disclaimer: Some audiences might find this "cheesy."

Over the last nine months, I have fallen so in love. So in love with Brad. And so in love with the Lord’s incredible timing. I have always prayed for someone who would ease me when I worry, love me when I don’t love myself, and keep up with my energy. Most of all, I prayed for someone who was centered on Christ. I never wanted to get married unless that man and that marriage promised to teach me more about the Lord than ever before. Honestly, there have been so many times when I just didn’t think that was possible. Would there ever be some I respected so much? Would there ever been someone I trusted like that?
One night, last April I think, Brad and I had a long, weird awkward conversation. Since before even meeting Brad, I had been praying to move to Knoxville. We had been dating a few months and I came into town for the weekend. I was overwhelmed with falling in love and thoughts or moving and all the ideas we had about the future. I felt like I was loosing control. I know that the things I said made no sense to him. They made no sense to me! I have “guarded my heart” for so long that I didn’t know how to enjoy being in love. I have so enjoyed being single, making my own way, and being a leader. All of this was great for that season of life. But, now things were changing. And the idea of being vulnerable and in love and trusting someone else so much…well, it basically freaked me out. That night, it came up in a random cry fest. (I know, you are shocked. Me? Cry?)
As I left Brad’s house that night and headed back to my parents, I heard my text messages go off. I knew it was Brad. But I just didn’t know if I could answer. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to think. I didn’t want him to try to convince me or ask me questions. But then, I looked down at my phone. He didn’t try to do any of those things. He just told me that he loved me. He sent me a couple scripture references about trusting the Lord and not worrying if we don’t have it all figured out.
It was the perfect picture of Christ’s love for me. Even when I let so, so many things in the way, he pursued me. He was patient with me. I didn’t have to have it figured out, I just had to let myself love him.
That is when I knew I would marry Brad.

The Proposal (Part V): The Ring

You asked for it. Now you've got it. Our engagement story. In installments. Unedited. Uncensored. Filled with typos not doubt.

You asked, so I’ll tell you. My ring:
It’s a deep blue sapphire in a 6 prong, white gold, Tiffany setting.
In other words: It’s blue. It’s bold. It let’s lots of light in.
Honestly never thought I would really truly care about my engagement ring. But I love this ring. I love that it is different. I love that Brad found an amazing alternative when I said I didn’t want a diamond. I love that when I am in line at Jason’s Deli, people stop me to ask me about it and tell me how pretty it is.

Next Up: Timing

The Proposal (Part IV): Outtakes

You asked for it. Now you've got it. Our engagement story. In installments. Unedited. Uncensored. Filled with typos not doubt.

Fun little thoughts throughout our engagement weekend that didn’t fit into the story…
· Brad grabbed his smallest Bible. He stuck it in his pocket, and I didn’t see it until he was ready to read to me from Corinthians. Many of us know this as the “Love Chapter.” Well, Brad had grabbed the King James Version. He realized this in the restroom at dinner. It says “charity” instead of “love”. He turned it into a nice little Greek lesson in the mid-proposal.
· During the Christmas parade, Brad and I decided that next year, we want to pass out free hot chocolate at Community South’s downtown branch.
· The Monday before the proposal at the Rockettes (see Day #61), my mom* said something that made me think Brad was talking to my dad* or had already done so. Of course, the fact that I discerned this only increased my confidence that there was no way in the world that Brad would surprise me. Boy, was I ever wrong!
· Brad had made several secret trips to Nashville to see the stone and get the ring. Once he got back to Knoxville, Ashley*, of course, was the first person to see my ring.
· Looking back on dinner...Brad insisted we wait to order our entrees, that we just “enjoy the appetizer.” He also took a couple text messages during dinner. Then, the most uncharacteristic of all behaviors – “Banker Brad” gave the waitress his debit card without even seeing the check. In retrospect, it seems this man was trying to stay on a very particular schedule.
· Friday morning, my brother (also named Brad*) text Brad and said, “Nervous?” They had quite a funny conversation about me.
· Brad told me to be warm, because we where going to be standing outside for the parade. And it was a cold, cold night. So, I wore lots of clothing and long underwear. It was great advice for being on the roof. Later, yep, there I was at Crown & Goose, in my favorite jeans and a cute jacket…with long underwear on underneath. I’ll never forget that!
· Brad said we had a “reservation” and would be going skating in 15 minutes. He said, “Well, they have a lot of groups this time of year.” This was all to cover up a phone call from the taxi driver. It totally worked.
· Here’s to LJ for helping to plan the post-proposal party. She even went all over town to find pink flowers just for me!
· I saw that LJ (my great friend from my first days in Spartanburg who is now at home in Knoxville) was now “friends” with Dori (who I grew up with and have known since she was born at Grace Lutheran) on Facebook. I “liked” this Facebook posting. I typically never notice things like that. But I was so confused by that connection it caught my eye. Now I know why. Thanks to Facebook for all the help connecting people for the post-proposal party.
· My parent’s gift to us? Our first gift as an engaged couple – Christmas stockings!
· On wedding is exactly 7 months for the day I am posting this. July 10, 2010.for the day I am posting this. July 10, 2010.

*Denotes person who knew about the engagement ahead of time. You will notice that it’s a rather large percentage of the population of Knox County. I had no idea.

Next Up: The Ring

Day 66-67: The Proposal (Part III) The Icing on the Cake

You asked for it. Now you've got it. Our engagement story. In installments. Unedited. Uncensored. Filled with typos not doubt.

Saturday morning, I was up and at ‘em. I was ready to call friends when my alarm went off at 8am. Then, I looked outside - It Snowed!!
It was truly the icing on my cake.
I started calling friends and had a ball. I met Brad and we headed over to my grandparents*. My youngest brother, Sam*, had spent the night there since my parents where downtown. We talked. We shared the story. We teased Sam about dancing with me at the wedding. We got marriage and wedding advice from my grandparents.
Then, we took Sam to Christmas program practice and got to see more family – Cindy*, Maddie*, and Rachel*. The day was full of daydreaming, friend calling, and family seeing. Then, that evening, we got to meet Brad’s mom*, who lives in Nashville for dinner in Sevierville. With her help, we started narrowing in on a date. We had talked about next Christmas, but that seemed too far away. Maybe the summer?
I didn’t think the weekend could get any better. Then, it did.
On Sunday morning, as we lit the advent wreath in front of the church together, Ethan announced our engagement. How exciting to share of becoming a family with our new church family (see Day #).
Sunday afternoon, the daydreaming continued. I keep saying, “we’re not going to plan anything, we’re not going to plan anything yet!” But my mom just keeps pulling out these Bridal magazines and Brad keeps calling around for catering menus. So, the date is set…

July 10, 2010.

Next up: The Outtakes.

*Denotes person who knew about the engagement ahead of time. You will notice that it’s a rather large percentage of the population of Knox County. I had no idea

The Proposal (Part II): Up on the rooftop...

You asked for it. Now you've got it. Our engagement story. In installments. Unedited. Uncensored. Filled with typos not doubt.

We went to the Christmas Parade. It was wonderful.
We went to dinner at the newly reopened, historic S&W Grand.
I gushed about the lights of Gay Street and Crouch Park, decked out for the holiday.
We headed over the Market Square for ice skating.
While waiting to skate, Brad told me he had just gotten a key to the building at 4 Market Square. He’s involved with the Knoxville Fellows (a program housed in that building), so again I was didn’t suspected.
As soon as we got on the roof, I saw roses, a bottle of wine, 2 glasses, and all the trimmings. I looked out over Market Square, as Brad opened the bottle. I was so amazed at how pretty everything was. The holiday lights and the shops and the Christmas music from the ice skating. It really was so picturesque that it seemed unreal.
Brad read to me from 1 Corinthians 13. I cried.
Then for a spilt second, he made me think we were about to leave. What? Where we leaving? Was this all to fake me out. Was this prankster going to present several “would be” engagement moments to keep me on my toes. What was happening? I was so, so confused. But only for a second.
“No, let’s stay up here,” he said.
He started to play with my left hand. And then my ring finger. I was looking over the edge of the building when he turned me around and said, “well, I think I am supposed to ask you something.”
As he said this, he got down on one knee. He put a lovely sapphire ring on my finger.
Honestly, I hardly remember what he said or what I said….
I was just so happy.
So surprised.
So in love.
After a few moment of being mesmerized, Brad was leading me downstairs and saying something about another surprise?
We were greeted by a delightful “British” cab driver*, who welcomed us to an old-fashion English taxi cab. I thought we were just driving around to enjoy the moment. I was certainly enjoying the moment. I even asked her if she would drive in our wedding?!
Then, we pulled up to the curb in the Old City. I didn’t even realize what was happening, as we walked into Crown & Goose. The first thing I saw was my mom and some balloons. Such a wonderful crowd was there – my parents*, my brother*, Dori* and Alisa* and Josh*, Casey* and LJ*, David* and Ashley*, Jay* and Rebecca*. Wow! There were flowers. There were gifts.
It was amazing.
More than I could have ever imagined.
More people stopped by. There was lots of story telling. Fun bonding among our favorite people. I called my YL girls to tell them, “Today I…got engaged.”
Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.
Everywhere I turned, I was learning about someone else who knew Brad was proposing.*
I’ve never really been one to daydream about my engagement. But I did want to be surprised. I didn’t think that was possible. I also thought it would be wonderful and romantic to be alone. But at the same time, there are so many wonderful people I would love to share the moment with. Truly, Friday night I got it all. It was more than I could have ever asked or imagined.

“This day must be the very best day of my life.”

Next up: The icing on the cake.

Day 65B: The Proposal (Part I)

You asked for it. Now you've got it. Our engagement story. In installments. Unedited. Uncensored. Filled with typos not doubt.

To set the scene...
Yes, I knew I wanted to marry Brad. But having just moved to Knoxville, I was thrilled simply to just be dating him in town. I kept saying – I know we’re going to get engaged. I know we’re going to get married. Whenever it happens, I just want to enjoy the season we are in. (Here’s to Emily, for modeling this advice BID.)
But…I’ll admit waiting was starting to get hard….
I had suspected Brad might propose this weekend. Maybe Saturday. I even mentioned it in jest to my roommate, Kristen*. However, as he and our friends LJ*, Casey*, Jay*, Rebecca*, and others all made weekend plans, it became clear in my mind, Brad had no plans for “popping the question.”
So, last Friday afternoon, I went home to change clothes – Brad told me to be warm. We were headed to the Christmas Parade and dinner, then ice skating. All downtown. I wrote in my journal – “Lord, I give you this weekend. I confess that I do wish we were getting engaged. But instead Lord, change my heart. Thanks for the fun things we do have hanging out with friends. Lord, I pray, pray for it to happen before new years. Please Lord, let us get engaged this year.”
Less than 4 hours after writing those words, we were engaged.

Next Up: Up on the rooftop…

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 65: Brooke

One thing that is really a blessing to my life in Knoxville is still in Spartanburg – Brooke! Brooke works with me at Rice Bowls and wow, she’s awesome. She’s creative, smart, fun, and great with people. Basically, she pumps people up all day and gets them really involved in the orphan crisis. There is something about talking to Brooke that honestly makes you believe that you can do anything! We are getting a busier than ever with Rice Bowls (see this post) and that means Brooke is busier than ever. But as always, Brooke rises to every challenge with excellence.
Happy Birthday Brooke! You are phenomenal!

Photo Credit

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 64: OCI

I like this place.
I like mixed bings (aka fried cheese).
I like that every inch of the wall is covered in UT memorabilia.
I like seeing people I know.
Old College Inn->

Photo Credit

Day 63: Altar'd State

Right in Turkey Creek, I have found a new favorite store/hang out/"third space". Altar'd State is a coffee bar meets meeting space meets gift shop meets bookstore meets great place to buy clothes. I picked up 2 Christmas gifts there - one for a certain someone who regularly reads this blog - and I am headed back for more. I was right at home to see Votivo candles - which they are getting straight from the one and only Virgina! I am also very, very excited to see that they've got Suki jeans by Silver. And you'll be able to get Tom's shoes! Love the place. Love the people. Love the heart behind all of it.
Become a Fan on Facebook->

Photo Credit

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rice Bowls, World AIDS Day, and a big November

What a statement to make today, December 1, World AIDS Day:
It's official - with 227 churches, schools, and community groups signing up, November 2009 is the biggest month Rice Bowls since our 2007 re-launch. We have more groups than ever before coming together to impact World Hunger, the orphan crisis, and the effects of HIV/AIDS on communities. So far this year, over 94,000+ people have joined in a Rice Bowls campaign. Keep 'em coming ya'll - we're making an impact!

Photo Credit

Day 62: Maria

At the intersection of Alaska and New Zealand, I found Maria! She was in the eastern US for a split second and I got to enjoy lunch with her and Chelsea (see Day #6). This extra ordinary women are both peace core alumni and world travelers. And like our friendly friend Valerie (who currently resides in South Africa), we all graduates of Farragut High School and Converse College. Sweet memories, sweet time to catch up, and great chili (see Day #7). So thankful to be at this intersection...and as I type this blog post, Valerie gchats me. Awe, good times, great oldies.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 61: The Rockettes

Tonight! Tonight! Going to see the National Tour of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes! Tonight!

Day 54-60: Thanksgiving Week

The week of Thanksgiving. Here are the highlights...
Day 54: My Grandfather
Unloading from a week in Atlanta and so thankful for my grandfather's help. Even more thankful for an hour with him to talk about life, tractors, tractor festivals, road closings, his new dog Molly, and more.
Day 55: Tuesdays
Tuesday evenings after dinner, meetings, or Bible study, I seem to find myself at my parents to catch up, harass my little brother Sam, and chill out. The perfect mid-week break.
Day 56: China Pearl
The perfect meal for the night before Thanksgiving? Chinese takeout (from the Landon family's Farragut favorite, China Pearl)
Pumpkin bread. Cranberry bread. Pinwheels. Mini-sausages. Cheeses. Cinnamon rolls.
Turkey. Cornbread dressing. Green bean casserole. Crescent rolls. Mash potatoes. Gravy. Cranberry and apricot sauce. Corn. Broccoli casserole. Deviled eggs. Strawberry pretzel salad. Cold pasta salad. Hot pasta salad. Crab legs.
Pumpkin Pie. Black Pecan Pie. Oreo Pie. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie.
Day 58: Shopping*
Start time: 5:12 am
End time: 3:21 pm
Day 59: The favs & Rivalry Saturday*
Go Clemson! Go Vols!!!
Day 60: Christmas Decorating
Perfect afternoon. Perfect decorations. Perfect tree.

*Further details on these posts would involve revealing secrets. Shh...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Diversion: Pathway Adventures

While in Atlanta, I got to stay with the fabulous Miss Elizabeth. She is working with a very cool org - Pathway Adventures. They offer students discipleship travel programs to Greece. How cool to grow and learn more of the Lord, while walking the steps of Paul and seeing the sites of the early church.
Here's a look at them...and my first attempt at adding video to the blog.
Check out Pathway Adventures->

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Diversion: No time to blog. Stuck in Atlanta Traffic

I have a new reason for loving Knoxville - it's not Atlanta.
As a result, there is no Atlanta traffic.
Here's to Rice Bowls, the Youth Specialties, LJ, & Gonda.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 49: Team In Training

Here I go again! I am training for my 3rd Marathon with Team In Training. I wanted to do a race to celebrate turning 30 next Spring. I also wanted to support this transformative organization. At the same time, I didn’t want to take attention away from Rice Bowls. So, I am replying on old friends, teammates, and supporter, who already know about Rice Bowls, to help me run this race for the Leukimia and Lymphomia Society. My goal is $1300.
With this race, I would like to do things fast - run 26.2 miles faster than ever before and raise the $1300 soon! So, I am praying for some $10 gifts and a couple $50 contributions to get this ball rolling. I'll also be mentoring a team of runners. I am here to help them with their first TNT experience. Your support will help me set an example and encourage them. Help me show them that this can be done and watch your gifts multiply!
Please click here for my fundraising page. Check back often, I’ll be adding details!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 47: Equitas

Monday the Provision Monday devotion, we heard this verse from Lance and got an update from Equitas. Not just a grant-making organization, these guys are a catalytic force – for dialogue about the restavik issue in Haiti, child exploitation in Cambodia, and the intersection between faith and justice. I can’t begin to say it as well as they do. So, I’ll stop typing so you can start reading what they do….

Day 48: Horn of Plenty

This is my new favorite!! Just East of Cedar Bluff on Middle Brook is the Horn of Plenty – a produce market and restaurant. Fried Green Tomatoes and great, great Chicken Salad (with grapes!), creamed corn, collared greens, chicken fried chicken (not be confused with fried chicken which they also have!), meatloaf, cheese biscuits, baked spaghetti, pimento cheese, pumpkin crunch, and more! Did I mention this is my new favorite?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 46:The New 2

A list of 2 dozen initial choices. 5 weeks. 9 churches visited at least once. 3 services on some Sundays. Dozens of website visits. Countless great conversations. Lots of coffees. Prayer, prayer, prayer.
We’ve been visiting churches…can you tell? Lots of churches…can you tell? Knoxville has so, so, so many wonderful choices. (Thinking about that while hearing from Joseph Paul talk about the persecution of believers in India was an incredible juxtaposition.)
After visiting so many of these great Christ-centered communities (not a bad one in the bunch), we joined “The New 2.” I can’t begin to tell you what a cool process this has been, at this point in life. I can’t begin to tell you how many ways things are right for us to be at 2nd Presbyterian Church right now. I am so excited!
So, after all this praying, visiting, and incredible affirmation, Brad and headed to an informal dinner Sunday night. To join 2nd Presbyterian Church. We saw some people we met in the new members class and Sunday School. We laughed a lot at…I mean with…Bryan, the new pastor. We sat with fun, fun, fun folks at dinner who are in love with the Lord. Then, we become part of the family at “The New 2.”
I pledge to be a servant, a student, a leader, a resource, a disciple.

Photo Credit

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 43-45/Diversion: 1st Trip Back to Spartanburg

My first trip back to South Carolina. Honestly, I didn’t want to go. Finally starting to feel at home here in Tennessee, I thought it would be hard. But it was great. Here are some highlights….
…On the way over, I got a message from Bret, my old area director for Young Life, a great friend, and a fellow former Spartanburg resident. He mentioned how we are called to be grateful – for whatever the Lord gives us in whatever season. Grateful for time with people when we have it.
…Joseph Paul was visiting from El-Shadai, Rice Bowls first orphanage partner. It was wonderful to hear him speak and get a first hand update on Lydia (his sweet wife), Jecentha (a little girl I have adopted through prayer via Hope Point Church), and all the other children!
….I cried when I saw Lauren and Lea and almost when I saw Lanie. How I miss my favs.
…Broadway. Breakfast. Anna. Alex. Nothing better.
…Angie and Ben and Andy and M.E made me feel so at home in Pauline.
…Two Doors Down!
…JLS Santa Shoppe – thanks for the hugs and the free ticket! Great to see the new Mrs. Cromer!
…”Do you mind if we go to Venus Pie for dinner?” I said. “Oh yeah, we already knew that was where you would want to go,” Loring and Katrina.
…B&N for years Amanda and Emily and I have been going there for the best conversations and car trips. Now, it’s even better. Ellie was there!
…Kristen was in town from East St. Lewis, such a fun shower with her and Hope Point friends. Too many to even mention.
…Deb, I’ll be half way home!
…More Josh Ridings Band CD’s
…I took a back road, US 25, home. (Thank you road slide aka Day #). It was quicker than going through Johnson City. However, the winding mountain roads slowed me a little. So did the horse wandering in the middle of the road.
…All I was trying to do was get in one more visit with Joseph Paul, pray with him and Richard, and get in a little Sweet Pea and Powder. But then I was attacked. By ants. I didn’t know what was happening. I was talking, I was happy. Then, my foot was on fire. I ran and hopped like a crazy person. Hosed off my feet in the yard. Then, Richard was rubbing my feet with vinegar. Awkward. Very, very awkward.
…Grace Management kicked off their Rice Bowls campaign! Praying, praying big!!
...Coffee on a stool in Susan's kitchen. Where I've spent many a morning.
…So glad I stayed until Saturday. Action backed and productive, personally and professionally.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day 42: Diana Warner

Unique. Trendy. Timeless.

On Wednesday I was out to lunch with Laura (see Day #4) and we happened upon Diana Werner. No, not just the jewelry, the woman herself, Diana Warner and her sweet dog princess at J.P.Coffman’s for a truck show. For a while now I have followed my fellow alumna of Angel’s Kickline turned NYC jewelry designer, featured on Gossip Girl and in dozens and dozens of boutiques across the country. She’s as fabulous as ever, with a big hug, a smile, and that same desire to make the world gorgeous down to every last detail.

Visit Diana online!

Photo Credit

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 41: Angie & Merropa

In 1994, when I moved to Farragut the first time, I met Angie. We were on the same 8th grade cheerleading squad, and I was do glad to have friends to introduce me around that summer. Angie was the best. (Ask me sometime and I'll tell you about "cheerleader prayers")
Now, 15 years later, it is great to be catching up with Angie - having coffee, talking about work, families, career, balance, shopping, and other topics that sound like the navigation buttons for iVillage or Real Simple websites. She’s so talented and does so many things, among them she has her own business, Merropa. It's "A Mobile Boutique... Full of Lifes Little Extras." I’ve already purchased Christmas presents and a cute necklace at Tinsel and Treasure (see Day #22). Here are some cute pics from Merropa…(The bottom is my favorite.)

You know I love these!

Photo Credit

Reminder: Some things don't change

"I the Lord do not change." - Malachi 3:6

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day 40: North Shore Sun

I went in with mail. I came out with a little something for a little one.
Today I needed stamps. Across from my office, I had seen a USPS sign. So, I hoped over to mail a couple of items for Rice Bowls and some favorite people. But when I walked in, I was in the midst of pink and green…polka dots and paisley prints…engraved monograms and “Elf on the Shelf.” What was happening?
I was in North Shore Sun. They have a post office inside, so I got all my mailing done. I also learned they monogram and have lots of cute items available for personalizing – silver pieces, tervis tumblers, and accessories. Plus, there is a little salon and spa inside. While I was there, I picked up a little gift for a baby shower – it was a great price and they had free gift wrapping!
Cute and convenient!

Photo Credit

Day 39: Ashley & David

The sweetest, most welcoming people in all of Knoxville, TN are Ashley and David. I am not exaggerating. They are wonderful. So, this weekend it was BBQ, potatoes, and Red Velvet Cake to celebrate Ashley’s birthday!
Happy Birthday Ashley!!
I look forward to getting to know you even better for years to come!
1. Amazing appetizers…always after 9pm.
2. She remembers everything…things you like, important moments in life, how to make you feel welcome when you are dating one of her best friends.
3. She considers it a privilege to get to love on people, spend time with them, and help or comfort them.
4. Along with “Little Bear” helped inspire Harding’s homecoming.
5. Style. Wow, such style.
6. Just like her house, Ashley can see something that is “okay” and invest in it. She sees potential in some many things and goes after them!
7. In this city where I don’t know everyone, I know their door is open anytime I need a friend!

Day 38: Marci

Of all the wonderful things about moving to Knoxville and Saturdays in Neyland Stadium is my friend Marci. She doesn’t live here. Life in Nashville keeps her busy. Our friendship has seen us through family illnesses, sickness, her wedding, career questions, happy times and hard days, all seasoned with delightful, random voicemails that are typically 4 minutes in length. Her wonderful husband Josh went to UT. So they make is to Ktown for plenty of games. And this Saturday, as sweet as huge win over Memphis was, it was even sweeter to get to catch up with Marci at the game. Great, honest, fun conversation. Life. Work. Moves. Change. Sure, I am so thankful for my cell phone, but I am so, so blessed for a little face time with my best friend!

Day 37: Gay Street

"Early Green Leatherback", Jen Hamilton (above)

"New Zealand #24: Macrocarpa Tree, Oamaru Gardens", Kathy Holland (above)

The Downtown Brewery+Tennessee Homecoming Weekend Events+Good Pizza+First Friday+Really funny friends+Local Art+Lots more=Gay Street
It was a great Friday night in the heart of downtown Knoxville. Gay Street has totally changed since I was in High School. There was so much to explore, we didn't see half of it. There's also the Mast General Store, the Tennessee Theatre, the East Tennessee Historical Society, amazing downtown lofts and a dozen fun restaurants. And on every "First Friday" arts are highlighted at the Arts Partnerships' Building and smaller venues up and down the street. We hit the Art Market and the pictures above are some of the featured pieces.

Photo Credit-1

Photo Credit-2 and 3

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day 36: Seasons & Sweet Tea

September 30, 2009, as I turned off of my beloved Street, I found myself on South Pine. Pine Street,: the home of my alma mater Converse College , my old office at Grace Management,, and the Rail Trail, my favorite place to run. I thought I was ready. I had said my goodbyes, had an awesome going away party, made plans for the future, and set up my upcoming visits back to the 'burg for work and play. Nearly everything I owned was in the back of a moving truck Brad was driving right ahead of me. But as I drove down the street, I saw it. The Shine on South Pine. Was I really moving 194 miles away from Sugar N' Spice.? How would I survive long afternoon's at the office without the sweet, sweet, sweet goodness and energy jolt of a Spice Tea? Could I manage? Would anything ever be the same?
In moving, I am learning that nothing is ever the same. As I just discussed with a great friend, life comes in "Seasons." Change is a beautiful, crazy, energizing, trying, motivating, energy-zapping, confusing, patience-needed, wonderful time. It is different living in Knoxville. I am different. Knoxville today totally different from the town I grew up knowing in the 80's and 90's. And I love that! If the Lord wanted me to experience the exact same things, He could have kept me in the same place. No. He wanted something different. A new season. At the moment, that means I need to be a little uncomfortable. I need to be okay with uncomfortable. My task is not to recreate every aspect of my life in Spartanburg. It is to seek after the plans He has for me. To give my life away to the people in my life - old friends, my family, and new relationships.
In this quest, I am definitely uncomfortable. I miss my favorite places. I miss my "favs". I miss being an expert on things. And I wonder when I'll start to feel comfortable again.
Then, last night, after a nice run with Harding, I thought it was the right time to reward myself. I wanted some french fries. Really good french fries. So, I headed over to Sam and Andy's. It's a great little "come as you are" kind of place. Home of the volburger. And home of really good fries, as I remembered. It's been of course I forgot, they still only take cash. But that all worked out. I was waiting on my order and went to fill my cup.
Good ice.
Sweet Tea.
Sweet, sweet, sweet tea.
Great tea.
The best tea I have had in Tennessee.
Yep, I think I can get comfortable here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day 35: Gourmet Market & Cosmo's Cafe

Today it is two new things the price of one blog post.
Topped off with a side of synergy.
"...the finest foods, ingredients, and cookware available, in addition caffè and bistro in the City of Knoxville."
That may sound like a tall order, but that's exactly what you get at Cosmo's Cafe inside the Gourmet Market.
It's like Little River meets White Rabbit. (Minus the Cookie Cottage, but no one can be perfect.) Cute and full of character. Great local feel. Unique seasonings and salsas. Inspiring dinner ideas. They've got stuff in there don't even know how to use. But there are helpful people who surely assist me in figuring it case I wanted to start pretending to be a gourmet cook.
Best of all today - great, great conversation about real things - personal stories, honest answers, big prayers, and an openness to change. It really seemed like more than just a coincidence that we were all there . Great time. Great place to be. Great place in life.

Photo Credit

Diversion: Emily Ray

I just became a "Fan" of Emily Ray Jewelry on Facebook! Check out this fabulous Spartanburg jewelry designer. Lovely jewelry featured on this lovely of my favs!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Day 34: Natural Alternatives

I got "Brighten" at Natural Alternatives Salon and Spa.
Nothing tops a quick trip to the day spa on a cold day. Nothing is better than finding great options at a reasonable price. And absolutely nothing makes you feel at home like finding that new day spa once you move. Thanks Megan, I'll be back!

Photo Credit

Day 33: My Mom

My mom is so cool. Creative. Fun. Always ready to help. She gives great advice, when I need it most. She led my brownie troop. She hand-beaded my prom dress. She makes awesome volcanoes at the beach. She was the volunteer of the year last year at my brother’s school and has aught Sunday School teacher for 20+ years. She is basically awesome.
Since I live here now, I got to celebrate her birthday twice – a mother/daughter lunch and a birthday dinner with the whole family. That’s a whole lot better than a phone call or coming in for the weekend a few days later.

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Favorite quotes...
"It's 10:20 on Christmas Eve...I think we can make it to the drug store for a couple things."
"Everybody's got to look somewhere."
"I left it on there on purpose. That white stuff is the best part of the whole orange."
"I didn't take you to church to become religious, I took you to church to become a Christian."
"There is never a reason to wear white high heels....unless you are Miss America."

Day 32: Camera Phones

I was in Ohio, missing Tennessee, but having some Halloween fun while traveling for work (see Day 31). Nevertheless, I was well represented at a fabulous South Carolina party. Thanks for the texts, pics, and facebook - they made my day.

Day 31: Tennessee 31, South Carolina 13

Those numbers say it all.
This weekend, I was out of town for work. But thanks for ESPN, it was still full of tricks and treats!
Photo Credit

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 30: NYC loves Ktown

A NYC Magazine just highlighted Knoxville as a weekend getaway.!
“From weekly jazz performances to lo-fi indie shows, this once-decaying football town has become a new hot spot for music,” NYCMag reports. It goes on to say that, the “University of Tennessee football games are riotous, unforgettable affairs.” For more entertainment, you can go where “Jazz is the blue plate special” and some much more.
Read the full article here->
So, what are you doing next weekend?

Photo Credit

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 29: A Fall Drive

Nothing, nothing in the whole wide world makes a would-be-lonely road trip near as nice as an amazing view of the leaves changing around the Tennessee/Kentucky line and great phone conversations with exceptional friends.
Photo Credit

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 28: Cafe 4

This morning, it was a great breakfast downtown on Market Square at Café 4. It was voted Knoxville’s fav new restaurant last year and I’ve been itching to go there. I was not disappointed. The croissant topped with a egg, spinach, and some incredible cheese was one of the tastiest items I’ve had in recent memories. Good thing too. Otherwise, I would have had major food envy, because Angela’s sandwich looked amazing too.
We talked about life, blogs, moving, friends, change, and freedom. So good.
Meanwhile the atmosphere was great. Very neighborly downtown feel, with several people great folks buzzing about.
After breakfast and my coffee refills, Angela headed upstairs. In the 4 Market Square building, there are a couple of organizations’ offices, spaces for two churches, The Square Room, and the Knoxville Fellows. (I think I got that right. Correct me if I am wrong.) Stay tuned, as I am sure several of these items will be discovered on this blog.

Photo Credit

Day 27: KARM

On Tuesday, I got to go serve lunch at KARM (Knox Area Rescue Ministries). Here are some random observations…
…We served 216 meals…it was a slow day.
…Many of them told me, “thank you.” In turn, I thanked them. I was stuck by the fact that is a blessing to me to get to serve them and get to be with some many people.
…when we walked into the kitchen, something was familiar. I checked my senses. It wasn’t really the sight – never been there. It was the smell or the sounds – it was like most other commercial size kitchens. I wasn’t touching anything. But what did I hear? Something strangling familiar. It was my Uncle Roger’s voice. He works at KARM, but what I heard was his voice singing on an old band CD, North Creek, from the late 90’s. Loved it.

Photo Credit

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 26: The Mountains Moved

On Sunday, the mountains moved. Seriously, on I-40, the road between Spartanburg and Knoxville, there was a huge rock slide. Crazy.
I lived in Spartanburg from 1998-2009. In 1997 and now in 2009, the interstate has been shut down by such rock slides. It reminds me how the Lord left that connection to Knoxville and my famoly open the whole time I was away. Sure, you can take the 1 hour detour now, but it's been a physical reminder to me how God made the way for me to remain connected. Does that even make sense... Anyway, it is a reminder of the mighty mountains and the majestic of God's creation. Wow. Big Rocks. Big, big God.

Day 25: This City

We've been visiting churches. Lots of churches. Lots of great churches. And lots of them have worshiped with a relatively new song, "The City." It takes on such meaning in a city with such a heart to help it's neighbor and in churches that are striving to meet people where they are at. It has become my prayer....
Listen to it now->

God of This City
Chris Tomlin
You're the God of this city

You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You Are

You're the light in this darkness
You're the hope to the hopeless
You're the peace to the restless
You are

For there is no one like our God
There is no one like You God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

You're the Lord of Creation
The Creator of all things
You're the King above all kings
You Are

You're the strength in our weakness
You're the love to the broken
You're the joy in the sadness
You Are

For there is no one like our God
There is no one like You God

For greater things have yet to come
Greater things are still to be done
In this city
When glory shines from hearts alive
With praise for You and love for You
In this city

Greater things have yet to come
Greater things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

Day 24: Sami's

My new favorite place for a southern style food is Sami’s. For lunch this week I had a vegetable plate. For breakfast Saturday morning with the families, I had cinnamon French toast. The biggest highlight….the desserts. Wow. The best key lime pie I’ve ever had and a tremendous list of other choices.
It’s weird to be in this location – back in the day, that shopping center was home to another café where my friends worked in high school.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 23: Baker Peters

The theme of last night...I should listen to Brad. For example, he's been trying to go to Baker Peter's Jazz Club since I moved back to Knoxville. But it had not worked out. We went and he was right. The patio, the music, the historic house. You've got to go. You've got to listen. Next time, we're going my dad!

Day 22: Tinsel and Treasure

Brad and I headed out to get a "Sneak Peak" at JLK's Tinsel and Treasure. So fun and such cute stuff - yummy food gifts, lots of holiday items, toms of UT stuff, and great "girlfriend gifts"(check out Angie's stuff), even lots of things Brad really liked. I'll be back this weekend for some real shopping!
All the funds from the entire weekend will be supporting Junior League of Knoxville's Community Projects - there are so many!
Come out and shop this weekend. Call me, I have one extra ticket for YOU!

Day 21: It's All My Fault

Bad hair days. Eating vegetables. A mess in my parent’s living room. Global warming. His homework. Since I have moved back, my elementary school brother now finds humor in blaming me for just about everything.
“Well, after all, it’s Katie fault,” he says.
Or sometimes, in a sympathetic voice he’ll say, “Gee Katie, how does it feel to have everything be your fault, huh?”
It's rather hysterical, in an I-am-not-smarter-than-a-fifth-grader type of way. When there are 19 years between siblings it is always fun when you still have things to play around about. I love living here!