Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stop and take a look around-You might see someone you know!

Have you ever been driving down the road and thought to yourself that the place you were passing on the side of the road looked like a neat place to stop? How many of you then actually stop? Well last week I was being guided by my GPS and came across two really neat antique stores. The first one I stopped at had all kinds of neat old treasures. They had old quilts, furniture, magazines, and old family photos (which I thought was weird and sad). I found a few cute items including pig and sheep ordainments, a birdhouse made of an old TN license plate, and an old Boy Scout book in really good condition published in 1911.

With all of my new/old purchases I was heading back to Nashville when I saw the Cumberland Mountain General Store. It just looked like a place I just had to see. Once I walked in, it was like a time warp. There was so much cool old stuff, it was everywhere.
Cumberland Mountain General Store

While I was looking around I picked up some items that I wanted to buy. These included numerous old flour sacks, an old canister set, a corn maze sign, and a 1920 book on cattle diseases. When I sat them on the counter, the girl standing beside me said my name. Shocked I looked up and it was my friend Jenifer. It is such a small world! She actually worked there in the back in an old soda fountain shop. It had just closed for the day, but she let me go back and take a look. It looks just like the soda shops in the movies where the girls are wearing poodle skirts! While I was there I had to get a scoop of chocolate chip ice cream.

Time warp back to the 1950's

This time last year Jenifer and I were in Europe together!

Once I told my mom about this place she wanted to go. So, this weekend we are going to load up in the mini van and make the trek over to Clarkrange, TN. To see more about Cumberland Mountain General Store watch them on Tennessee Crossroads .

The owners are super nice!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christmas in July and Pig inside a General Store

Farm visits are one of the best things about my job. I love going out to a farm and talking to farmers. Recently, I went out to Sycamore Springs Christmas Tree Farm. It is located close to Allardt home of the Pumpkin Festival where they weigh in the largest pumpkin (I hope to go this year!) The family I went to visit is the Pennycuffs and I worked with their daughter Kacie in tourism. Such a great family! The visit was probably one of the best/most fun I had ever had.

Kacie making the best lunch ever!

The farm is a start up Christmas tree farm which means they won’t have any trees ready for sale. They are going to sale some vegetables with the main focus on fall. They have planted pumpkins and Indian corn. Being so close to the Pumpkin Festival they are thinking about having bluegrass music and their own pulled pork that weekend. They have had to battle quite a few elements since beginning their agritourism venture. The drought hit them hard and they lost a lot of trees, they battle the wildlife over their vegetables, and a few weeks ago a tornado. A tornado came right by their house and took out part of their retail shelter they had help building with TAEP funds.

Future Christmas Trees!

After the farm visit I got an inclusive tour of were they live. We went to Alvin C. York’s home and across the road is a beautiful old grist mill. Then we went to the Bible School he built. After he built the Bible School he worked to have a high school built and it is called the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute. This school has the largest high school campus in the US.

We stopped by a store called Forbus. Here, you walk past large wooden statues of Indians to open a door to the past. The first thing I noticed was the smell of fudge, which I got to sample. The chocolate fudge is extremely good. This place is not just known for its fudge, but for the people who come here on a daily bases. Older gentlemen come and play a card game called Pig. This is apparently a big deal, because its been on ESPN. We walked to the back and sure enough there were at least ten men wearing overalls playing Pig!

Play Pig at Forbus General Store

It was a great day with great people!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Workshops and Wineries

With work I travel a lot to workshops and conferences. This week I went to Baxter, TN for the Tennessee Sustainable Tourism Workshop. You are probably thinking what in the world is in Baxter and what is sustainable tourism? The workshop was held at Delmonaco Winery and Vineyard in Baxter. Sustainable Tourism is sustaining the environment, culture and heritage of a region while at the same time sustaining the economic growth through tourism. I am involved because agritourism has always been sustaining the environment and the rich farming history of our state since the first pick your own. They are doing four workshops across the state and this was the second. To find out more about what Tennessee is doing about Sustainable Tourism go to .

Delmonaco Winery and Vinyard

Inside the winery
The workshop couldn’t have been at a prettier place! Delmonico Winery and Vineyard is gorgeous. It’s also huge! That’s how they were able to host a workshop of 100 people. They host all kinds of events from weddings to corporate parties. When you stop by make sure to try the Muscadine and Blackberry wines. I hear they are really good. They have wine tastings everyday and on the weekends they have concerts. What fun would it be to bring a picnic, sit among the vines, and listen to live music! To find out more about Delmonaco Winery and Vineyard go to

The vineyard

Flippin Out About Floating the Buffalo

My parents are very strict compared to other parents when I was growing up. For example, I had to be in bed on week nights by 9:00pm no matter what. One thing that they wouldn’t let me do that always made me so mad was floating the Buffalo. The Buffalo River is very close and all of my friends would go during the summer. Fast forward to now and my brother wanting to go spend the day on the Buffalo with our nephews.

My nephews, my brother, and me before floating on the Buffalo

When the morning came for our trip I was so, so excited! I had waited so long to get to spend a fun and relaxing day just floating along. We took two canoes. We put the first canoe in and it went floating down the river without a hitch. Then came our canoe with three people in it. Within seconds of getting in the canoe we were flipping over into the very cold water. My oldest nephew had trouble keeping balance in the middle and flipped us. This is the first of many times our canoe flipped. I will give you a a brief overview of our flippin good time of flippin the canoe.

Tyler livin it up on the Buffalo!

So, everyone thought it would be fun to splash me with water. When I went to splash them back my oldest nephew screamed like a little girl and flipped us over. Flip three and four were kind of scary. We came to a fork in the river and my oldest nephew (do you see a trend) wanted to take the left side which looked a little bit more difficult than the right side. It was going good until we ran smack into a dead tree and flipped over. Once I was in the water the current kept sucking me under the tree. When I was able to get free my nephew threw me a life jacket after I informed everyone I couldn’t swim. The fourth flip was when we were trying to get the canoe to land so we could get in. It hit a tree and flpped over and hit me in the head! That’s not even the worse part. The lifejacket strap got caught around my neck!

My brother just floating along!

Now, I have talked all about the scary flips, but it was a lot of fun. We stopped and did some swimming. We also stopped and had a lunch that consisted of turkey and soggy bread. My nephews loved the soggy bread so much they ate the entire loaf, weird I know!

Never ride in a canoe with Bo!!!

Guess, now I realize why my parents were so hesitant to let me float the Buffalo. One thing that I know that I is the next time I will wear a real life jacket and not to be in the same canoe as my oldest nephew!!! We lost 1 paddle, 1 chair, 1 sunglasses, and 3 flip floppies. I gained 15 bruises and a fun Saturday!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can I Order Sweet Potato Fries and Toliet Paper?

There are so many neat, hidden little restaurants in the Nashville area. My friend and former co-worker, Jane came to town to visit. It was such a busy weekend, I only got to see her for lunch on Saturday. We had lunch at Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant in Franklin. It was a great time getting to hang out with her and my other friends.

Jane, Wendy, Jan, and I at Puckett's in Franklin

When we drove through downtown Franklin, there were people walking everywhere. It was like a scene out of a movie where all the townsfolk are having a great time in the town square.

Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant is really a unique place. Just like its name states it is a restaurant and a real grocery store. When we sat down the first thing I noticed were the shelves around the restaurant filled with all kinds of different items like, toilet paper, Jiffy Pop, and washing detergent. I thought it was just for looks, but if you want to buy the toilet paper you can!

The food was yummy too. We had sweet potato fries, a true southern favorite. For lunch I had the Strawberry Field Salad with Strawberry dressing. Puckett’s is known for their hamburgers and next time I will have try one. They also, have a stage for local talent to perform concerts.

This summer, I am going to make it back to downtown Franklin and explore all the neat little shops. It will make for a fun day walking around and enjoying the beautiful downtown Franklin. If you are down in the area make sure you stop by Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant and order some sweet potato fries!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nashville is for the Birds...

When friends come to stay with me in Nashville it means one thing- an excuse to go out and have fun! This past weekend there were two different weddings going on and we had a house full. Megan was our party coordinator for Friday night. She called me up and asked “What do you think about going to the Bluebird Café?” My answer “Yes, get us tickets ASAP!”

Once again, you would probably have thought I had already been to one of Nashville’s top hot spots. You and the lady from England, who had planned on coming to the Bluebird a year in advance. In her British accent she told me all the places in Nashville and Tennessee she had been. Talking to her made me a little embarrassed, because I haven’t been to half the places she spoke about. This conversation has made me determined to become a tourist in my on state and actually visit all the wonderful attractions Tennessee has to offer!

Lauren and I standing in front of The Bluebird Cafe

Just going to throw this out there, but the Bluebird was nothing like I expected. Which if it was I wouldn’t have much to write about! First, when we pulled up I was very confused. We were at a strip mall. There was an insurance company, a paint store, and a store with a cool red lamp for sale. On the very end was a canopy that had Bluebird Café on it with people standing outside. We were met by a very lively man with a cane who checked our tickets and sent us in. I recommend calling ahead cause they sell out fast and it was a sold out night.

Picture may not be great, but the music was!

The room is very small and we had really good seats in the pews. They have a few random church pews that you can reserve. In the middle, the songwriters sit with their guitars and keyboard. People were sitting right next to the songwriters. They songwriters went around and each told a story about the song they have written and then they played it. Some of the songs were hilarious, some I had never heard of, and some if I turned on my radio I could hear it now. Scott Sanford, Lisa Shaffer, CJ Watson and Dani Carroll were the songwriters. They had written hits for Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley, David Cooke, and Martina Mcbride.

Inside the Bluebird Cafe

Wow! The music was awesome and I love hearing the songwriters tell stories of how they came up with the song or about who recorded it. We had such a good time! I want to kick myself for not being like the British lady and planned to come hear were country songs are born! It was only $10.00 to get in and it was better than some concerts I have paid $50.00 for. Don’t be like me and just wait around till you have visitors to go to the Bluebird, it’s too much fun to wait around for!

Fun times!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Does Anyone Want This Last Bite of Hotdog?

Living in Nashville has its pluses and negatives for me. The only real negatives is not living on the farm and not being closer to the ones I love. Right now, I am on my deck in Nashville and if I close my eyes just enough I can hear the sounds of the country. The cows in the pasture, the goats wanting to be fed, birds singing, squirrels acting like silly squirrels….

The positives of living in Nashville is there are a lot of different activities to occupy your time. Take for instance the Sounds game I went to last week. I have been living in Nashville for two years and never went and cheered on the Nashville Sounds. A group of the fun Aggies in the MTN area have started hanging out at least once a month (Thanks, Kim!).

Kelsey and Melissa enjoying a ballpark hotdog!

When we got to the ball game it was rainy and cold. It could have been coming a hurricane and these hard core fun havers would had sit it through! My first question was who were we playing? The answer was the Iowa Cubs. This just made me laugh. I may haven’t seen the Sounds play before, but I have cheered on the Iowa Cubs before. A few years back I interned in Iowa and we would go to the games. I caught myself accidently cheering on the Cubs. Opps!

I love that the scoreboard is a guitar!

The game was fun and the Sounds won (Sorry Cubbies). What made it fun was getting to hang out with all my Ag friends that I don’t get see that often and meeting new people. So, it took two years for me to go to my first game and I am already planning to catch one real soon!

Susan, Mel, Me, and Kelsey all smiles at the game!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Flashbacks of Governor's School for Agriculture

Last week, Tennessee Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences 2009 class stopped by the Department of Ag. This was very exciting for me, because I was a councilor for the first TGSAS in the summer of 2004. When the students got of the bus for their tour of the Department, all I could do was smile and think of the fun times I had five years ago. Never did I imagine that some of the students I was a councilor for would end up being some of best friends and sorority sisters.
2004 TGSAS Class when I was a councilor

TGSAS is held at the University of Tennessee at Martin for four weeks during the summer. Thirty-two of the state’s top agricultural students get hands on experience of the diversity of agriculture. Through this educational experience they earn college credit and get to travel across the state and out of state to learn about agriculture.
Tom Womack talks to TGSAS about the history
of Ellington Agriculture Center

After the students got off the bus they were welcomed by Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture, Terry Oliver and Public Affairs for Agriculture, Tom Womack. They got an overview of the different departments that make up TDA and the history of Ellington Agriculture Center. The students got a chance to tour the Moss Building (a beautiful plantation house, where the Commissioner of Agriculture’s office is located) and the Agriculture Museum. While they were touring I got a chance to catch up with some of the councilors and to hear the latest about UTM.

TGSAS pose for a picture at the Tennessee Dept. Ag

TGSAS is a great program and it is an honor to be selected to participate. The educational benefit of this program is amazing. If you want to find out more about TGSAS or know someone who would like to apply for next year go to

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flippy Floppies in FL and SHARK!

Most people grow up taking family vacations. Well I am not most people. The first time I went to Gatlingburg was to State FFA Convention my freshmen year of high school and I have yet to go on "vacation" there. My parents are older and did the family vacation thing with my brother and sister. Now this is not a sob story of how deprive I was as a child (actually I was probably spoiled), but to show you why I love to travel. One place I always wanted to go was the beach. Now just to set things straight I have been to beaches before, but not one in Florida.

Heather, Me, Allie, and Lauren on the beach!
When the opportunity came about to take a short trip to the beach I jumped on it. Like most trips, it started out as a large number of folks going. It ended up being four of us girls, Lauren, Allie, Heather, and I. After I picked Heather up from the airport (she had been in China for 2 wks) we headed to Destin, Fl. We left around 11:00pm and got there around 7:30am. Yes, we are crazy!
Heather went straight from China to the beach!

The beach was beautiful and our condo (Thanks, Miss Beth!) was really nice. One thing that always scared me of the beach was not sharks or jellyfish, but being bored. I like adventure and doing/seeing new things. So, I packed books and magazines to occupy my time. The days went by fast on the beach and we always planned what we would get into at night. SEAFOOD was always top priority at night, then shopping, and going to AJ's- not always in that order.

Our waiter saved the day, by fixing Allie's car!

To fill my adventurous side, we decided to go parasailing. This was something that sounded fun and I hadn't ever done before. One problem, I am afraid of heights! Yikes! After being drug out of the car we got on a boat with crazy driving captain. The boat ride was exciting, until I realized I was going to go 800 ft in the air! Allie and I went up together and what a pair we were. She was afraid of going under the water and I was afraid of being in the air! Once strapped in and flying across the ocean, I was glad I had not chickened out. While we were up there we saw a shark, which was the coolest part about the parasailing trip.

Heather and Lauren didn't see the scary shark!

Being from Tennessee, we decided to go hunting the last night in Destin. There was no need to wear orange vests or take a shotgun. All you need is a cute little pink hardhat and a cup to go crab hunting. This was yet another new experience for me and it was a lot of fun. We had trouble finding the little crabbies at first. I am sure it had nothing to do with us laughing and being loud. Then we saw them everywhere and chased them all over the beach!

The killer crab we caught and me.

My first time at the beach is defiantly not going to be my last. I recommend taking along your best friends and don't be afraid to try new things!

Fun times!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Little Bit of Chicken Fried

Just recently my one of my roommates, Emily, and friend Jason went to Memphis. This was not a fun road trip like I normally have. This time it was for a funeral. It was a very sad day and the trip down there seemed to take forever. Right now, I am going to skip over half the day to the ride home.

It was after 2pm and we were all starving and a little lost. Jason suggested we go to the restaurant Bigfoot, but it was downtown and we didn't want chance getting in traffic. He had watched an episode of Man vs Food and they ate fried chicken somewhere in Memphis. We made a few calls (seeing that we had no idea what this fried chicken place was called or located) and found out it the name of the restaurant was Gus's Famous Fried Chicken. It was right outside of Memphis off I-40 in a ittty bitty town of Mason. There is no signage off the interstate, but it was easy to get to.

Jason made the comment that if this was not good chicken, I could pour my glass of sweet tea on him. When we drove up, I was almost positive he was going to get a bath of sweet tea. The place didn't look at all like it did on TV and it was really small. We walked in and it was deserted, but it was 2:30pm. We sat down in the homey little restaurant and ordered. When I got my sweet tea wasn't impressed. With my mind made up, I just knew the chicken wasn't going to be good.

Jason and Emily playing with their food!

Oh, how I was wrong! It was the spiciest and juiciest fried chicken I had ever had! We all ordered the two piece white meat chicken dinner. It came with french fries and white bread. The sweet tea was not the best, but the chicken defiantly made up for it. Gus's Famous Fried Chicken is a must stop for anyone who likes fried chicken. The next time I am going to Memphis, I will be stopping in Mason.

Gus's Famous Fried Chicken has a spicy taste to it.