Monday, June 29, 2020

Family Visit during the Pandemic (IV)

…continuing with our visit from Laurie’s sister and her husband.

We, or at least they, had browsed and shopped through several stores in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Now it was time for a change of pace…and a lite lunch too.

This was our next stop…Sweetwater Valley Farm, a big dairy farm just outside Philadelphia Tennessee.

This farm was part of the Revolutionary Land Grant awarded to General William Ballard Lenoir.  It was settled in the early 1800s.  Philadelphia, which is just south of the farm, was the most southerly place that was controlled by Union Forces during the Civil War.  Around 1900, this property became a dairy farm.  It has had several owners over the last century.  In 1987, it was purchased by the Harrison family and they’ve built it into a multi-functional operation focused on the dairy industry…

Certainly one of the most popular parts of the farm’s operation relates to their cheese making and sales.  That huge cheese counter is stocked from end to end with a multitude of cheeses…with many varieties!  In addition, visitors can view the cheese making operation through those big windows.

Since we all like cheese, this is one store where we all enjoyed shopping!  I’m not sure if Bonnie and Bill were checking out the flavored butter, the summer sausage or the elk salami… Other items include canned (jars) vegetables, honey, jams/jellies and sauces and cheese curds.

Laurie checked out with modest purchases but they included 2 of her favorite cheese items…cheese curds and a block of buttermilk cheese.  (Note: No face mask worn by the cashier)
All in all, Sweetwater Valley Farms offers as many as 30 different types of cheese!  In addition to a selection of mild and aged cheddars, other options include adobo cheddar, Colby, fiery fiesta cheddar, Gouda, Italian pesto cheddar and a variety of smoked cheeses.  You can check out the cheesy options at

This barnlike structure across from the cheese shop is both a retail shop and a casual restaurant.  We’d heard that Sweetwater Farms was serving grilled cheese sandwiches around lunch time but we just hadn’t stopped by before to give them a try.

This photo shows the dining area in the ‘barn’ and if you look past the stairs, you can see the retail area.  Love the open ceiling with all the beams.  The staff wore face masks and the tables were spaced appropriately apart.

This is the menu board.  With the exception of the Benton’s Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, it’s all about grilled cheese.  Seems pretty appropriate for a dairy based café!  FYI, milk shakes are also offered… 

Like most other restaurants, due to Covid-19 this café had been closed until recently but thankfully now the young ladies behind the counter are back at sandwich making.

We all ordered the same sandwich.  This is the Big Cheese. ($7.00) It is made with sharp yellow cheddar, Benton’s Bacon (another local product), bread and butter pickles with tomato on sourdough bread.  It was a very satisfying luncheon! 

As we left Sweetwater Valley Farm’s café, this big hay truck rolled in.  This is a very large enterprise and in normal times, tours of the dairy operation are also available.

How big is Sweetwater Farms?  It is home to more than 1,500 dairy cows as well as a herd of beef cattle.  Crops are raised on the farm too.  Milking is done using robotic technology.  The farm produces 350,000 lbs. (175 tons) of cheese annually!  Sweetwater Valley Cheese is sold in at least 240 locations in Tennessee and several other adjoining states.  Outlets include stores, wineries, breweries, coffee shops and restaurants.

Sweetwater Valley Farms is located at 17988 West Lee Highway (US Hwy 11) in Philadelphia Tennessee.  Phone: 865-458-9192.  Their website is found at

One more stop along our way home… Yes, it is yet another shopping opportunity!  This is the Shoppes on the Square in the center of Loudon Tennessee.

These photos give you an idea as to the selection of items available in this store.  Booths are rented out and the merchandise varies from crafty items to antiques, clothing, decorative items, books and much more.  Face masks were in vogue here and the aisles are one-way to limit social contact.

The Shoppes on the Square is located at 612 Grove Street in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-244-0207.  Website:

While Bonnie, Bill and Laurie were browsing in the Shoppes on the Square, I took a few minutes to see how the repairs/rebuilding was progressing in the old Loudon County Courthouse.  A terrible fire in April of 2019 destroyed the roof, attic and second floor of this 150 year old historic structure.  Anything that wasn’t burned was destroyed by the water used to fight the fire.  It appears that the reconstruction will be complete by the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The Courthouse grounds (now fenced off) is also the site of the county’s war memorial.  As the memorial is now inaccessible, these posters commemorating some military members from the area who were killed in various wars and conflicts.  The Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II were all represented via these placards.  It was a nice touch…and a reminder of our sacrifices in this era of Covid-19 and social upheaval.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, June 26, 2020

“A Shopping We Will Go!” – Family Visit (III)

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Tennessee has never really “closed up” or “locked down”…although the more populated counties have done so for varying periods of time.  Plus we ‘opened’ businesses and other venues earlier than many states.  Tennessee’s number of infections is going up…

With family visiting, it was a matter of deciding what was relatively safe to do…where could we go wearing masks and/or stay socially distanced?

Bonnie, Bill and Laurie love to shop so off we went to explore a variety of local shops and boutiques…

Our first stop was Premiere Consignment just off of TN Hwy. 444 near Tellico Village.  This consignment store is in a perfect location to take advantage of retirees and others moving into Tellico Village from locations all over the USA.  Folks move in, downsize or change out their furnishings …then they try to get some money for their possessions.

These photos give you an example of some of the items for sale at Premiere Consignment.  Big furniture, art, decorative pieces…shoppers have a lot to choose from.  Laurie and I have sold a few small items through this store, and we’ve bought a few things too.

Sellers bring in items and then a starting price is agreed on.  After 30 days, the item is marked down by 10% and after 60 days a final 10%.  The store keeps 50% of the sale price…much better than you’d get in a yard sale.
Premiere Consignment is located at 320 Lakeside Plaza in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-458-9721.  Their website can be found at

Our next stop was in downtown Lenoir City Tennessee.  The City has recently completed a downtown facelift that upgraded the sidewalks and décor.  Obviously the goal is to encourage more businesses to open which in turn will attract shoppers. 

This first store is called Markets on Broadway.  It offers booths/spaces to locals who sell a broad variety of merchandise.  Items range from essential oils, vinyl signs, pet accessories, clothing, on to goat milk lotion and much more.  This store is located at 121 East Broadway.  Phone: 865-816-3093.  Website:

The Sparkly Pig is located right next door to the Markets on Broadway.  It also rents space to small scale retailers.  It features antiques, collectibles, jewelry, crafts, clothing, home furnishings and more.  It is located at 119 East Broadway in Lenoir City.  Phone: 865-317-3652.  They are on Facebook at:

The next store was Honey Blossom.  This store focuses on women’s apparel especially tunic tops and leggings.  Some children’s clothing is offered as well.  A timely addition to Honey Blossom’s offerings was a wide selection of stylish Covid-19 face masks!  This store is located at 105 East Broadway.  Phone: 865-591-1134.  They are on Facebook at:

Laurie, Bonnie and Bill do a lot of looking…and happily for me, Laurie doesn’t do much buying!  As for me, I’m not a shopper.  If I need something I go and buy it.  I did look inside all the stores mentioned above and I took a couple of photos…but I’m not sure which stores were which as I didn’t take the photos in any particular order.  Most of my time was spent outside…

I did see a couple of items of interest in our slow but steady perusal of these stores.  Actually, that first photo of an interesting door, with pressed tin and wrought iron highlights, is located along the street at the south side of the Sparkly Pig.   While the art in the second photo isn’t my thing, I will give the artist an “A” for creativity!

The Cedar and Twine was the only boutique style store across the street from the other stores we visited in this 2 block area.  They offer ‘curated’ women’s fashions.  Laurie and Bonnie exited quickly, stating that the offerings were for younger customers.  I checked their website and they were right!  Love that blue storefront… Cedar and Twine is located at 100 East Broadway.  Phone: 865-816-6203.  Their website can be found at

Staff in a couple of the stores asked us to stop by this farm stand at the intersection of Broadway and “A” Street, commenting that they want him to return and for the effort to expand.  We did stop by, with Bill buying some tomatoes.  As the sign states, this is the site of a future ‘parklet’…a pocket park.

This cart with colorful flowers and a bicycle added a little extra to the street scene.  Other carts were on display but some had plastic flowers or they just weren’t as eye-catching.    

I spent a bit of time on that bench in front of the Lacy General Store, while I waited for my shopping crew.  Very relaxing and beautiful weather…

Inside the Lacy General Store, there is a plethora of miscellaneous possibilities for the shopper.  There are tea towels, jig-saw puzzles, old time candies, coasters, greeting cards, home décor items and prepared foods…just to name a few items.

This stage is located at the back of the Lacy General Store.  It’s referred to at the 865 Stage and they do offer live music from time to time.  A bit quirky but interesting… The Lacy General Store is located at 101 East Broadway in Lenoir City.  Phone: 865-816-6833.  They are on Facebook at

Then there is “The Lacy”, the 'parent store' of the Lacy General Store.  The Lacy is an antique and home décor store that is located inside Lenoir City’s old Lacy Hotel.  The hotel was built in 1927.  When we first visited this store in 2017, it only occupied the first floor of the building.  Now it has expanded to the second floor as well.  

The Lacy is a classy upscale store with plenty of high end furnishings and décor mixed in with a lot of ‘take with’ impulse items for their clientele.  This is one store that I don’t mind browsing around as it is a bit different and interesting.  The good news was that Laurie didn’t buy anything!  However, I did learn that there is a passage way between The Lacy and the Lacy General Store…and it’s via The Lacy’s bathroom! 

The Lacy is located at 105 North 'A' Street in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Phone: 865-816-6833.  On Facebook:

Our last stop in Lenoir City was at Sadie’s Boutique, Monograms and Gifts.  This store features a wide variety of products ranging from jewelry and baby dishes, to soaps, pillows, purses, men’s socks, jig-saw puzzles, pillows, women’s clothing and lots more.  Oh yes...and face masks too!

Sadie’s Boutique occupies the old People’s Bank Building that failed in the big bank crash in 1929.  The store is located at 101 West Broadway.  Phone: 865-816-6576.  Sadie’s website is at

That was it…for the first part of our excursion!  More to follow, but I did get a food and beverage break at our next stop… What I really hate is having to go out shopping or brousinng while wearing a face mask!  The good news is that almost all store personnel were wearing masks too...

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Family Visit during the Pandemic (II)

…continuing with our family visit during this era of social distancing and the use of face masks.  Many of the usual activities were still off limits.  This included movie theaters, overcrowded restaurants and popular attractions.

One activity was very simple and safe too…just taking a drive and looking at the sights.

On this occasion, we drove through a couple of neighborhoods in Tellico Village to check out some homes and to see if home construction had dropped off during this period of economic stress.  We did note several homes under construction and still other probable locations where the lots had been cleared and were ready for work to begin.  That was positive news, but then again so were our views of Tellico Lake and the Smoky Mountains!

Then we drove over to the east side of the lake and followed local roads to Greenback Tennessee where we picked up TN Hwy 95 headed north.  We stopped along the way to take a photo of this gorgeous yellow Victorian farmhouse.  Even the way it sits on the property is classy…

After we circled Tellico Lake we found ourselves back at the north end of Tellico Village.  It was early so we stopped at the Tanasi Clubhouse and Grill for a snack and something to drink.  We ordered a few fried chicken wings and some egg rolls while enjoying the views from the outdoor dining area.

Then of course, there were the obligatory photos.  First Bill and Bonnie and then Laurie took this picture of the old guy she married many years ago.  Yes, I am smiling!  Bonnie is retired and Bill has been furloughed from his current position with a St. Louis suburban municipality.  Bill had been a police officer but he retired a couple of years ago.  I can verify that he’s glad he’s not still on the ‘job’!  So is Bonnie…

The Tanasi Clubhouse and Restaurant is located right off TN Hwy. 444 in Loudon Tennessee.  Website:

While visiting us, Laurie and Bonnie spent hours going through hundreds of  family photos and other memorabilia.  Amidst their search, they came across these old Barbie Doll imitations with an assortment of handmade clothing.  All of these clothing items were made by my mom… Since we don’t have any girls in our family, we gave these dolls and their outfits to Bonnie for her 2 youngest granddaughters.  They will love them!

Time to eat again!!  We had decided to visit Fresh Market where we’d picked up cucumber salad and smoked mozzarella pasta salad.  Bill also bought 1.5 lbs. of nice sized shrimp. ($11.99 a lb.) When we got home, we laid out a little light dinner for all to enjoy. 

Bill built some shrimp tacos, adding pickled zucchini plus lettuce and tomato to his shrimp ‘build’, and then he topped it all with some nice cocktail sauce.  I followed suit but I only went for the lettuce, shrimp and cocktail sauce. (Mine was extra spicy!)

The second plate pictured above was Laurie’s creation.  It incorporated the pickled zucchini, pasta salad (her favorite from Fresh Market), cucumber salad and of course, the shrimp.  It was all good!

That’s all for now, but our family visit and food fest continues in forthcoming posts…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 22, 2020

Family Visit during the Pandemic (I)

It had been a long time since we had any visitors!  No one made it here in January or February…and then the Pandemic came to visit, locking everything down!  Finally, more than 3 months after the stay at home order was issued, (actually it was just a request here in Tennessee), company arrived.  Even better, our visitors were family members who wore masks and had maintained social distancing for the last 3 months!

At our age (especially mine) and stage in life, none of us are in any hurry to gamble on the corona virus! 

Our visitors from Maplewood Missouri were Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill.  It’s a long drive so we made sure that we had a decent luncheon spread available for them upon their arrival!

On the table we had 3 different kinds of salami, ham, dry coppa, prosciutto, both Gouda and sharp cheddar cheese, a fresh sliced heirloom tomato, lettuce, 2 types of fresh bakery bread, grapes, sweet and sour cucumbers, and potato chips with onion dip.  It was a good start for our 'food fest'!  

After our ‘light’ luncheon, we retreated to the screened porch to catch up on family happenings and current events around the USA.  The corona virus was a big topic of conversation…with all of us frustrated by the issues its causing the economy as well as us personally.  Despite the topics, everyone seemed content…perhaps influenced by the consumption of a couple of Moscow Mules.

FYI, a Moscow Mule is preferably served in a copper mug.  It’s made with crushed ice, vodka, ginger beer and lime juice, preferably fresh squeezed.

The idea was to keep everything simple…and to just enjoy our time together.  So we generally kept our meals simple or ate out at a restaurant where social distancing was feasible.

This particular evening meal consisted of a family size bag of Rana brand Chicken Mozzarella Tortelloni and a salad made with two different types of lettuce, cherry tomatoes and celery.  Laurie enhanced the pasta a bit with some spices and we added a little Alfredo sauce.  

Bonnie brought a recipe for zucchini pickles and the ladies decided to make them.  It was something that we'd never heard of before.  Laurie and Bill really liked it and Bonnie liked it after a few bites.  I wasn’t a fan.  It was a good sisterly project no matter how it was viewed…

Here are the four of us…posing for each other at Aubrey’s Restaurant in Lenoir City Tennessee.  We chose Aubrey’s because the food is consistently good and it is a huge restaurant with high backed booths and more importantly, big tables spread widely apart along the windows.  We secured one of those tables and ordered a couple of adult beverages.  They were a ‘steal’ cost-wise.  Draft beers were $3.00 and mixed drinks were $5.00 each.  

Bill and I shared this Fish and Chips appetizer. ($12.00) We forgot to take a photo until after we’d gobbled up most of the potatoes and had cut into one of the filets.  Both the fried potatoes and the fish were very good…and the next time I’ll order this for my entrée along with a salad.

I didn’t take photos of our entrees because I just forgot!  The ladies had side salads, (Laurie’s Caesar Salad is shown above), and then they shared an order of the Haystack Pasta. ($13.00) Their pasta consisted of grilled chicken, sautéed mushrooms, linguine, parmesan cheese and a mushroom cream sauce. 

Bill ordered a house side salad with his Rattlesnake Pasta. ($13.00) It consisted of grilled chicken, sautéed baby spinach, green peppers, linguine, southwestern spiced Alfredo sauce and cilantro.  I ordered the 12 oz. Ribeye Steak with steamed broccoli.  Everyone was happy with their entrees although my steak was medium instead of medium rare.

But then came the opportunity for a bit of dessert.  I skipped it but the ladies split an order of the Praline cheesecake served on a pecan graham cracker crust and smothered with warm caramel. ($7.00)  Bill went for the Key Lime Pie. ($7.00) Everyone was happy…and very full too!

Our server Nathan was very nice but when servers or others try to help each other, communications frequently break down and any additional requests by diners are too often lost in translation.  Still both the food and the ambiance were very satisfying and we had another nice experience at Aubrey’s.

All members of Aubrey’s staff wore face masks, a real positive for those of us of a certain age.  This Aubrey’s Restaurant is located at 401 Town Creek Road East in Lenoir City Tennessee.  It is part of a small local chain.  Phone: 865-986-3113.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Stay Safe and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave