Stressed

So this past week and the upcoming week are the two most important weeks of my college career.  Deadlines and exams have taken their toll on me.  I also have what my doctor called the “worst ear infection” he’d ever seen.  OUCH.  On top of the stress from school, some big changes in my house have literally turned my life upside down.  But we won’t talk about that now…

So how do I decompress?

I spend time with my family.  Saturday I went to a little league softball game to watch Molly kick the other team’s rear. I had seen this video (warning, there is some foul language) on Facebook by Darren Knight the night before the game, and if you’ve ever been to a little league game, chances are you’ve seen this person. Luckily I didn’t see this person at the field.

I go for drives.  Spring is here and I love to drive the curvy backroads around South Knoxville and take in all of the greenery.  Driving around Brown mountain has become my favorite spot, and now that I can drive a five-speed, it’s even better.

I get caffeinated.  I have become slightly obsessed with the nitro coffee from SoKno Market.  I was there three times this week.  This has also helped me stay up late on Friday nights to write blog posts.

I binge watch.  I’ve seen every episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia at least seven times.

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An accurate portrayal of my life.

I rewatched The Office for the fourth time during the past couple of weeks.  I cringe at the Scott’s Tots episode every time, and I won’t torture you with the cringe-inducing scene.

Hopefully in the next few weeks my life will calm down.  I hope to be able to update everyone about my crazy life once my plans are solidified.

 

 

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Spring Break: Part Two

So besides hanging out with my brother’s kids for three days, I also did some grown up stuff while I was on break.  While most of my friends from school were sending me Snaps of their awesome adventures, I was busy at work.  I work for The Home Depot where we are busy gearing up for spring.  It wasn’t the most exciting week at work, but that’s what I did on Spring Break.

I started about 12 different projects around my house, but two days into the week, I chucked my to-do list in the garbage in favor of having some fun.  A week later and I still have a few things to finish up.  Which reminds me–I have 2-dozen stepping stones in the trunk of the Civic that I’ve been hauling around for a week.

I did find time to head over to SoKno Market.  I had heard so much about it, and I had been wanting to swing by there.  I picked up Donna on the way and we easily found the market.  They offer a wide selection of coffee, custom sodas, ice cream, baked goods, and a different lunch item everyday. I don’t even like coffee, but the “Grumpy Grandpa” was amazing.  The owner recommended it to us and explained it was cold brewed with nitrogen then put in a keg.  The owner was really welcoming and told us that on Saturdays they stock Richie Cream Donuts.  SPOILER ALERT: I was there first thing Saturday to get coffee and donuts. SoKno Market will definitely be a staple for me; I can’t function without some caffeine.

 

Spring Break: Part One

So last week was spring break for UTK.  But what do you do to celebrate Spring Break when you’re 30?  Well, you work, and if you’re lucky you are able to squeeze in a couple of days of fun.

My two nieces were also on spring break from Blount County schools, so I planned two days just for them and my 2-year old nephew.  I also made a list of everything I wanted to do around my house, but two days into spring break I tossed it out.  I don’t get to see my nieces as much as I’d like, so I added a third day to our itinerary.

Day One

Macy is nine, and she loves to bake.  She is a girl after my own heart.  I had promised her that if she made good grades on her spelling tests, we would bake her favorite cupcakes. We spent time in the kitchen mixing batter and decorating cupcakes (when it was time for clean-up, Macy magically disappeared).  We also went to Ijams and had a picnic.  I know I’ve mentioned Ijams before, but if you’ve never been you have to check it out.  There really is something for everyone there.

Day Two

Molly is five, and she loves going to the movies.  Zootopia had just come out so we decided to go see it.  Macy and Molly were seemingly mesmerized by the film and they thought it was great.  Conway was the most excited to see the movie, and he promptly fell asleep.  He didn’t even make it past the previews, and he was snoozing.  After the movie, on the ride home, he woke up and asked about going to see the movie.  I couldn’t help but feel bad for the kid.  By the way, the movie was great!

Day Three

Day three was something I was really looking forward to doing with the kids.  The Knoxville Zoo recently went through a re-branding creating a new website, logo, and overall image.  Zoo Knoxville is known as the red panda capital of the world.  The endangered species didn’t disappoint as they romped and played in their enclosure.  Of course, I was most excited about the otters, which played and swam as if they were performing for an audience.  Conway wanted to see the animals, but most of all he wanted to see the “big bad wolf”, but guess what–the kid fell asleep.  Luckily for him, he has two thoughtful big sisters who woke him up when we go to the wolves.  By the time we finally got home, the kids were really tired-but not too tired to get ice cream!

So Spring Break wasn’t a total bust for me.  I got to hang out with my favorite kiddos and we had a really great few days.  Look for my next blog post when I talk about things I did over Spring Break that didn’t involve kids!

 

 

The Best Spaghetti in Town

So despite having lived in east Tennessee for her whole life, my friend Donna had never heard of Louis’.  So we took a trip back out to Fountain City so she could experience one of the most famous eateries in Knoxville.

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It says it right there on the sign!

Louis’ has been a Knoxville staple since 1958.  Several years ago, Louis’ moved to a larger building to make way for an exit ramp from interstate 640.

We went during the lunch rush, but that’s no big deal at Louis’.  The large building can accommodate dozens of diners, and the experienced staff are used to the business.

I recommended that we split the spaghetti, because the serving size is HUGE.  The staff at Louis’ make all of the sauces and dressings in-house.  I’ve eaten nearly everything on the menu at Louis’, and I’ve never been disappointed.  This time was no different.  The food was great and the service was on point.  Another great thing about Louis’ is how inexpensive most of the menu items are.  Unless you’re ordering filet mignon or rib eye, you can eat there relatively cheap.   The eatery also caters and has a banquet room for events.  Louis’ even offers the option of a drive-in, which stays packed during the dinner rush.

You can check out the menu here.  The next time you’re hungry and want great Italian food, check out Louis’!

 

Mardi Growl

Saturday was another beautiful day in Knoxville.  At the last minute, the plans I had made for Saturday afternoon were canceled.  Jake and I went wanted to get out and do something fun, but we also didn’t want to spend any money.  Cue a trip to downtown Knoxville…

Mardi Growl was happening Saturday, and if you love dogs as much as I do, it was pure Heaven.  Sadly, I had to work the early shift, so we missed the parade, but we still got to see hundreds of dogs in the pet party at Market Square.  I pet at least 100 different dogs, and there was even a Shetland pony at the pet party (no, it wasn’t Lil’ Sebastian).

The event raises money that goes to help the Young-Williams Animal Center.  In addition to dozens of vendors, there were also rescues and shelters on site trying to find forever homes for dogs.  There are so many animals that need homes, so if you’re thinking of getting a pet, check out local shelters such as Young-Williams or the Blount County Animal Shelter.

Overall it was an awesome event, and we had a blast walking through Market Square with all of the dogs.  Hopefully, next year we will have a dog of our own to take to Mardi Growl!

 

The Most Famous Burgers in Town

This past week I introduced a friend to the best burger place in town.  My friend Donna had never been to Litton’s in Fountain City.  We had some errands to run together, and I was absolutely thrilled when she brought up grabbing a bite to eat.

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A Knoxville landmark. Source: travelingringo.com

Now, Litton’s is known for its awesome burgers, but honestly, I’ve never gotten anything there that has left me dissatisfied.  Despite this, I order a burger almost every time I go there.  This time, I decided to split a burger and side with Donna because I really wanted dessert.

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Perfection on a plate.

I wanted Donna to be able to get the taste of the burger, so we opted not to get cheese or bacon, just a plain hamburger.  It was devoured in about 60 seconds.  The onion rings were delicious as well, crispy-but not burned- and the onion still had a little bite.

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Then came for what would be the highlight of the trip: dessert.  Even if Litton’s wasn’t know for its burgers, its desserts would still draw in a crowd.  We went to the coolers and browsed the selection.  I settled for the red velvet, even though it isn’t my favorite (my favorite is Baby Jane cake, and it is only available on weekends).  Donna got the strawberry cake, and it was perfect.

But what I love most about Litton’s most is the atmosphere.  On the walls you’ll find newspaper clippings featuring local athletes.  Celebrities who stop in Knoxville often go to Litton’s. Last year when Alton Brown was in for his comedy/food show, he posted a picture of the red velvet cake from Litton’s on his Instagram account.

The table next to use were newbies and the waitress was telling them about the history of the establishment.  It was easy to tell from the way she talked about the restaurant, she took pride in her job. Litton’s has been a place for the Fountain City community to gather since 1946, and it is one place to definitely check out if you’ve never been.

The J is Silent

I was lucky enough to grow up in an area of south Knoxville that was really close to downtown, but just far away enough to feel removed from the city.  And I lived really close to Ijams, which is probably how I acquired my appreciation for the outdoors.  For those of you who aren’t from around here, the “j” is silent.  But what is Ijams?

Ijams is city park that promotes the preservation and conservation of nature.  What began decades ago as a few walking trails has spread out to over 300 acres of wilderness-just a few miles outside of downtown Knoxville.  Visitors can hike, paddle, climb or bike in the park. Ijams recently launched Navitat, a zipline-obstactle course which takes thrill seekers to the top of the forest.

Ijams also sponsors events such as the Big Kids Coloring Club.  Children under 12 are discouraged from attending, and adults can BYOB.  Ijams requests a five dollar donation, but they also provide snacks, pages to color and coloring supplies.  I attended this event in January and I was instantly hooked.

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Coloring: not just for kids

Not only was Big Kids Coloring Club a great way to relax, it was also a great chance to catch up with friends and meet new people.  There has been a surge in adult coloring books.  Ijams recognized this trend and hopped on!

Ijams offers a quick getaway inside the city limits. It’s easy to wander the park and let your worries slip away, because the the place is just so darn beautiful.  There are trails that will take you to the river, to an endless field of sunflowers (at the right time of the year), or you can just stroll at your leisure.  If you are into history, there is a cemetery on the property overlooking Mead’s Quarry that dates back to the late 1800s.  Perhaps the best part of Ijams can’t be expressed in words, so I’ll just leave this here:

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Source: http://www.outdoorknoxville.com