May 29, 2013

Summer Kitchen Essentials

I don't know about you, but I spend a good bit of time in my kitchen. From experimenting with new recipes to creating tried-and-true southern favorites for my southern beau, time spent in my kitchen is always a stress reliever for me. I even find myself washing dishes when I need to clear my head. 

With summer just around the corner, I thought I'd share some of my favorite tools of the trade...these cheerful kitchen items, tools and gadgets make cooking easier and more fun! 

1) Dish Towels from Patch Design Studio
2) Fishs Eddy Rest in Grease Spoon Rest
3) Joseph Joseph Square Colander
4) Bambu Large Tongs
5) Jo!e Crinkle Cutter
6) Herb Scissors

I love each of these items and use them all almost daily. The dish towels, with cast iron skillet, okra or cornbread designs, add a cheerful vibe to my kitchen and also make a wonderful gift! Probably my favorite kitchen tool here is the crinkle's perfect for cutting cucumber slices to make homemade pickles.

The herb scissors get used for many things besides herbs, but are great for snipping some basil or arugula for my homemade pesto. And I'm always reaching for my colander and bamboo tongs, for one reason or another.

What kitchen tool or utensil makes your cooking life easier? I might need to add it to my collection!

May 28, 2013

SBS Spotlight: Authentic South

It's no secret I created this blog because I have a deep-rooted love of the south. Southern Belle Simple has given me a platform to examine all the interesting, wonderful, eclectic, bizarre things that I've encountered over the years. It's a place for own and the ones I've heard told by my loved ones.

I've always loved stories and I have a fondness for a good storyteller because in this day and age, they are getting harder to come by.

Tanner Latham is a wonderful storyteller who I was fortunate to meet at the Southern Food Writing Conference. He actually spoke at the conference, along with his main squeeze Jennifer Davick, a talented filmmaker & storyteller in her own right.

Latham is the creative mastermind behind the podcast "Authentic South." It explores our southern culture through all the things that make the south great: food, art, music, folks, travel, etc.

During the conference session, I was furiously scribbling notes about how to tell better stories, how to capture them using audio and video, and other practical advice when something struck me that caused me to stop my note taking and jot down thoughts of another kind.

This is what I wrote:

There are people who feel like they cause things to happen. And they love taking credit for the things they feel responsible for. But then there are people who are honored to be part of something they understand existed long before them and will continue long after. They are humbled to be part of something bigger than themselves and they realize they can be part of it in a way that enriches the lives of the rest of us. 

This is the impression I got from Tanner Latham. He seemed so appreciative of the opportunity he has been given to tell the stories of others. Same for Jennifer Davick. Here are these two mega talented individuals who have achieved a ton of success but they were so humble and gracious. It's like they recognize the great honor that comes with someone allowing you to tell his story.

Some people are impressed by who you know, where you've been or what you have. I'm impressed by people who pursue their passions and in doing so, make it okay for the rest of us to do the same.

Check out  the Authentic South podcast and learn more about Tanner here.
Check out Jennifer Davick's great work here.

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Remembering & Being Grateful

Passage from the diary of Sargeant Alvin C. York, October 7, 1918 -

God would never be cruel enough to create a cyclone as terrible as that Argonne battle. Only man would ever think of doing an awful thing like that. It looked like "the abomination of desolation" must look like. And all through the long night those big guns flashed and growled just like the lightning and the thunder when it storms in the mountains at home.
And, oh my, we had to pass the wounded. And some of them were on stretchers going back to the dressing stations, and some of them were lying around, moaning and twitching. And the dead were all along the road. And it was wet and cold. And it all made me think of the Bible and the story of the Anti-Christ and Armageddon.
And I'm telling you the little log cabin in Wolf Valley in old Tennessee seemed a long long way off.

No matter how you're spending today, let's take some time to remember and be grateful to all those individuals who have given their lives so that we can be free.

May 24, 2013

Tickle Your Innards

This Friday flashback in the form of a vintage TV commercial made me smile! As a kid, we hardly ever drank cokes (soda) at my house but my mom's only sister, my beloved Aunt 'Bo' was a Mountain Dew drinker and she'd always buy me some to go with a Hardee's biscuit. 

I thought there was something magical about that neon green liquid....In fact, I haven't had a sip of Mountain Dew in years but just writing about it makes me wish I had a little. 

When you think about it, practically every beloved soda brand originated in the south...from Coca Cola to Dr. Pepper, RC Cola, Mountain Dew and Cheerwine. 

What's your favorite brand/flavor of soda? 

May 22, 2013

Dinner at Blackberry Farm

Last week I had my first (and perhaps only) dining experience at Blackberry Farm. Dinner there was part of the Southern Food Writing Conference, which I attended in Knoxville.

Some folks actually admitted to signing up for the conference just for this dinner opportunity...since you can't just go eat there unless you are an overnight or event guest. 

I feel lucky to have been able to go...the whole thing was very memorable and I appreciate the opportunity. Now, on to the food! 

When our group arrived at the barn for dinner, each of us was shown to our respective seats. My table mates included two lovely ladies from Cincinnati and a gent from Alabama.

I love the Blackberry Farm china and was disappointed when it was taken away, never to be seen again for the duration of the meal. Our first course was an asparagus salad with Cruze Farm buttermilk, hazelnuts, Muscadine Vinaigrette, and salad greens. I found it delicious and wished the portion had been about 5 times as big. Sorry...I like a big salad.

 Next came shrimp and grits. This was more like a chowder than any grits I've ever had but it was tasty. According to the menu it also had preserved tomatoes and a pickled pepper emulsion...hmm.

This next course was a big hit with everyone. A "Hearth fried egg" with watercress, garlic confit, chili oil and "chicken cracklins."  I guess this is when I should remind y'all that I'm vegan. I pretty much knew that a dinner at Blackberry Farm would not be very vegan friendly so I had already resigned myself to the fact that I might have to stray from my eating plan.

I ate the egg. It was so good. So very good. Part of why I ate it is because I knew I wouldn't eat the meat courses (see below) so I didn't want to be hungry for the duration of the 3+ hour meal.

Oh yeah. This is where I want to mention that when I was growing up, we always enjoyed the tasty bits of fried chicken skin left in the bottom of the box from Mrs. Winners. Who knew that they were an actual delicacy...chicken cracklins (shaking my head).

This next course was where things got dicey. Pork ribs atop baked peanuts with grilled cabbage. It looked and smelled wonderful, but while I'll bend my vegan ways for an egg...I won't eat pork. This is also when my gentleman table mate realized his luck at being seated next to me. I carefully slid the pork rib over to his plate and enjoyed the peanuts very much. Who'd have thunk to cook peanuts in barbecue sauce?

Main course consisted of peas, lamb loin, carrots, lamb neck and mint pesto. The peas (all seven of them) were delicious as were the carrots. I can't speak to the taste of the meats but everyone around me seemed to enjoy it.

Next came the cheese course. I'm a big fan of cheese and since going vegan, have missed eating it very much. I ate this course, but the irony is I didn't realize it was cheese until after. I got confused about the courses and thought this was dessert. When I took a bite of what I thought was white chocolate, you can imagine my surprise to taste something like cheese with a very un-cheese-like consistency.

The menu described it as a Marcona almond sorbet and Verjus granita. Still not quite sure about that one.

 Final course...dessert. Cruze Farm chocolate milk panna cotta, dark chocolate sorbet and a maraschino cherry. Yum!

I have to say the experience was memorable, but the food was only a small part of that. I think the thing I enjoyed most was what an event the meal rarely do I ever take the time to sit and enjoy a meal for hours and hours. Unless I'm with a friend and my schedule is wide open, it always feels like I'm rushing through to get to the next thing. If I took anything away from Blackberry Farm it was to spend more time enjoying the experience of eating. 

And because my mom is going to ask: No, I didn't steal the napkin. I put it halfway in my purse but thought better of it.

All through the experience, I kept thinking about my family, particularly my grandparents. They came from the country and lived and worked on land that is just as lush and fruitful as Blackberry Farm. I would love to know what they might have thought about a meal served in a barn at an Inn in East Tennessee where a night's stay is $1000. 

May 21, 2013

Words of Wisdom from Julia Reed

One of the absolute highlights of my recent attendance at the Southern Food Writing Conference was getting the chance to hear Julia Reed speak. A published author plus contributing editor at Vogue and Newsweek, Reed is one of my favorite southern writers, but she was even better in real life!

Her southern grand dame persona was warm and inviting...Reed's rubbed elbows with the likes of politicos, fashionistas, and the Washington D.C. & New York elite but she doesn't seem to care about any of that. Anybody who can make offhand remarks about Anna Wintour's spelling mistakes and then go right into a debate with herself about Pickapeppa sauce vs. pepper jelly as a topping for cream cheese and crackers is alright by me.

Not that she needs my approval, mind you ;)

I wanted to share some of the wisdom I gleaned from her talk. You'll like it.

1. The way to the hearts of the staunchest folks is always through the stomach
We already knew this of course. Reed shared stories of how she impressed the socks off her Washington D.C. & NY colleagues by serving southern food in the 90's. She talked about how this was a time when the popular cocktail party fare was something like an under-cooked snow pea. Her cocktail party staple? Sister Schubert's rolls and a big ol' bowl (her words) of jumbo lump crab meat with mayonnaise.

Her advice? Cook basic, honest food that people will like.

2. Southern Junior League Cookbooks are ALWAYS better than Northern Ones
Again, not much of a surprise. Reed's evidence for this is the fact that Northern Jr. League Cookbooks usually have titles such as "Posh Pantry" and "Cook's Cabinet" while the far superior Southern versions are called things like "Come on In!" and "Talk about Good" (I actually have that last one!).

3. True Southerners know the importance of Funeral Food
Absolutely we do. Reed told the tragic story of how her grandparents were killed in a car accident when she was a teen. She followed up with how her momma's last words to her as she ran out the door were "go clean out the refrigerator." They knew the casseroles and Jell-o salads would start pouring in and sure enough, they were right.

Reed also made sure to point out that the amount and quality of food that is brought to a funeral is directly proportional to how well the person was liked. She said "if you die and nobody brings food, it's a sign that you weren't very nice."

Her final bit of valuable advice?

Homemade is best, store-bought is better than nothing, but NEVER take funeral food with a price tag still on it!

Her new book But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!: Adventures in Eating, Drinking, and Making Merry is available in stores now.

May 20, 2013

Monday Pep Talk

Happy Monday friends! Here's a little something to make you feel encouraged...a whole squad of Grade-A 1950s University of Tennessee majorettes. They've got plenty of pep in their step...think it will rub off on you? 

Sometimes I forget how hard Mondays can be for folks. Especially when you have to wake up and go to a job you hate. Or maybe one that makes you feel less than appreciated. Or maybe you don't have a job to go to, but you need one. I've been in all those circumstances. And none are any fun.

When I was working at my last job (you know the one), I used to get a stomach ache every Sunday night...dreading the coming Monday. That is a terrible feeling. 

My office was up a long, long flight of stairs with no elevator access. I used to daydream about how I might be able to get out of going to work if I broke my leg. This sounds crazy to me now, but it's true. 

Now that I've started my own business and am truly loving what I do, I get excited about each coming week in a way that I never did before. I met someone recently who said she thought I was brave for pursuing my dreams in this way. I certainly haven't felt brave at times. I mean, it took my getting fired to even get to this place. 

I don't know what your situation is. Maybe I've never met you. But I would stake my life on the fact that you were created with an amazing purpose in this life. I hope you can take a step in the direction of that purpose today....even if it's just inching one toe forward. 

Aren't happy with the direction your life is headed? It's never too late to turn things around. I truly believe that. That's my little pep talk for the day. Rah, rah...sis boom bah. 

May 16, 2013

Butter My Biscuits

It's a great time to be in Knoxville, Tennessee! This morning I'm visiting my Fox43 friends for a segment all about that most southern of delicacies, the biscuit.

Today kicks of the 2nd Southern Food Writing Conference, which I'm attending. It's going to be two jam-packed days of learning and eating, with some amazing foodies, southern food enthusiasts, cookbook authors, writers and bloggers

I'm looking forward to meeting the fabulous Julia Reed as well as Chef Hugh Acheson. Don't you just love folks who love food? 

One of the most highly anticipated events of Southern Food Writing Conference is a dinner at Blackberry Farm. It's like the southern foodie's holy grail (I hope it can live up to the hype). 

Then Saturday, May 18 is the 4th Annual International Biscuit Festival! Thousands of folks will descend onto downtown Knoxville to eat their hearts out on all sorts of delicious biscuit creations. 

I hope to see some of your smiling faces! 

May 15, 2013

Blog BFFs: For the Love of the South

Since beginning my blog in 2009, many fabulous doors have opened up for me and I've been so blessed to have the opportunity to do some amazing things. But the best thing about blogging (in my humble opinion) is getting to meet and become friends with other blogging/writing folks! 

I met some really great people during my recent trip to Jekyll Island for the Southern Coterie Summit. One of them was Ms. Amber Ryder. Not surprisingly, her blog For the Love of the South was a finalist in Saveur Magazine's Best Food Blog Awards. It's a gorgeous site that perfectly reflects the sweet spirit of its creator. 

Amber was one of the first people I met at the Southern C Summit. I think we were both looking a tiny bit lost at the opening cocktail reception and I'm so glad she came over and said hello. We struck up a conversation about food, naturally ;) Girlfriend takes her food seriously...anyone who categorizes broccoli salad as "the best of her life" is good people in my book. 

It took us awhile to realize that we were familiar with each other's blogs already...have you ever met someone in real life that you already felt you knew online? It's kind of an interesting phenomenon. 

I hope you'll visit Amber's blog and tell her I sent you. You won't be sorry. Did I mention she's a newlywed? Check out her lovely southern wedding too! 

May 14, 2013

Only in the south: Re-Arrangement

Y'all know I love a bargain. I've even bragged about how my family visits thrift stores in nearly ever city where we've ever vacationed. Sometimes, these thrifting adventures yield wonderful treasures. Other times, they leave me shaking my head.

A recent visit to a Habitat for Humanity Re:Store was a head shaker when I saw this faux floral arrangement a' la compact disc extravaganza.

I am generally opposed to fake flowers because they always look...fake. And unlike real flowers which die and go back to the earth, unwanted fake flowers just get dusty and end up relegated to the shelves and bins of thrift stores everywhere.

But not at this particular thrift store. Someone from the staff (or possibly a volunteer) had taken all the fake flowers in stock and re-purposed them into arrangements. This one isn't even terrible (minus the CDs) but seriously?

This could happen only in the south where, for some reason, we hold out hope that we can take unwanted things, and shine them up or re-arrange them in some way that might make them seem more desirable. It's not even a bad way to look at life, but in the case of these flowers and CDs, I just don't know if there's any hope.

I featured another find from this same thrift shop on the blog a few years ago...that time it was floral guitar-art or guitart as I called it. I really want to meet the people who come up with this stuff. They are the un-sung heroes of my "Only in the south" posts.

May 11, 2013

I heart my mom

my mom & me
All this week, I knew I wanted to share something about my own southern momma in honor of Mother's Day, but each time I'd sit down to write it I had trouble deciding what to say. I'm not sure why this particular story came to my mind, but I realized it was the perfect memory to share because it sums up who my mom is and what she stands for.

When I was around 11, my family lived in a wonderful old house that sat back off the road in my small hometown. We certainly weren't rich, but this house made me feel like we were. It had two fireplaces, an upstairs, a basement, and my favorite room: the study. I used to sit in the study, with its big, bright windows and polished, wooden built-in bookshelves and pretend I was an heiress to some type of fortune. Oops. This post really isn't about the house at all, but I get nostalgic thinking about it. 

Anyway. My mom was in college, finishing up her teaching degree and had just completed her student teaching at a school in a rural part of our community. This family of kids who attended that school ended up moving near where we lived. 

There were three of the kids that I can remember, two girls and a boy. All around my age. And they were poor. I'm not sure how I gleaned this information, but I know they were. They were always kind of dirty and I never saw any parents around. I don't think my mom told me for sure, but they had a sad family story (maybe their mom had died...I just can't remember). 

What I do remember is them walking over to our house sometimes to say hi to my mom or play basketball in our driveway. It was summer and you know how summer in the south One day I looked out our upstairs window and saw all three of them sitting along the edge of our driveway picking flowers. 

When I came downstairs and asked my mom what they were doing, she said "Oh I told them they could pull weeds from along the side of our driveway and I'd pay them." 

This struck me as ridiculous for a couple of reasons. One being that my dad paid a very nice man named Mr. Richard to cut our grass with his big riding lawn mower. Mr. Richard always trimmed around the driveway with his weed eater. 

The other reason this seemed ridiculous to me was that if my mom was going to give anybody money, I thought it should naturally be me, since I was stuck at home all summer entertaining my little brother. 

Then, to add insult to my 11-year old self's idea of injury, my mom instructed me to fix three glasses of Crystal Light lemonade and take it out to the kids. I did as I was told, but I didn't have much joy in my heart about it. 

When I got to the driveway and passed out the lemonade, they drank it in a few quick gulps and got back to weed pulling. I am ashamed to tell you that even to this day I can remember feeling annoyed and put out. I knew this weed pulling project was completely unnecessary and I was annoyed with my mom for making me be part of the charade, whatever her reason was. 

Looking back, I can't believe I was so oblivious. It's obvious to me now that she was just trying to offer a little help in a rough situation. And I'm sure she knew they were too proud to take money outright so she concocted the weed pulling as a cover. 

And there I was, my big bratty self, unwilling or unable to understand the situation and secretly hoping these kids would just get tired of pulling weeds and go home. I remember thinking, "This is my summer vacation for goodness sake. I cannot be bothered with them."

Again, I'm not proud of myself in this story. But I'm grateful because I have a mom who could always be bothered when it came to people who needed a little (or a lot) of help. And I have spent my life watching her take the time to do these kinds of things for people she encounters. Sometimes they realize it, sometimes they don't. But it always makes a positive difference in their lives. I'm a better person today because of the example my mom set for me. 

If you've met her, you probably already know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't met her, I hope you're lucky enough to get the chance. 

I've said this before, but it bears saying again: if my mom weren't already my mom, I'd wish she were. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there (including mine). Y'all make our lives better in so many ways. 

May 10, 2013

Happy Friday!

I'm so happy Friday is finally here. This weekend doesn't hold any big plans, but aren't those the best kind? I might do some treasure hunting at a few estate sales tomorrow and then visit my local farmer's market. I might sleep late and read magazines in bed. The thought of having the luxury to choose is making me feel oh so blessed right now. 

Whatever your plans are, I hope they are lovely! And if you see the new Great Gatsby film, please tell me how it is...I might drag my beau to it if y'all give it a thumb's up. 

May 9, 2013

The Ride You are Taking

"When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking."
 ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

May 8, 2013

The Power of Love

Sometimes love is so powerful, it scares me. A few days ago, I was dining at a restaurant in my hometown. Around the table sat five of my family members who also happen to be some of the people I love most in the world. At one point I found myself looking around the table at these faces, some of which have been part of my life's tapestry from the very beginning.

And I love them so much...the thought of life without them scares the heck outta me. So much to the point that I thought to myself: "I want to lock them up in a room, along with the rest of the people I love most (you know who you are) and keep them there." 

Yes, crazy. I know you're thinking it. 

And of course this isn't feasible or practical or a sane thought. 

But the love I feel for them that would prompt me to have these kinds of crazy thoughts is sort of a scary thing. 

And on the flip side of that coin, the power of love is enough that even if for some terrible reason I never saw my loved ones again, I know I'd still go on loving them. Just like I have with other people in my life who've moved on or passed on

And this is just the love that's felt between people. We can't even begin to imagine the incredible power of the love that our Creator feels for us. 

Some people live in such fear. And others feel alone or unwanted. And of course we all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. But if we're really honest about the amazing love we have access to, this incredible living, breathing love that is just ripe for the taking, how can we spend so much of our energy fretting about all the nonsense that doesn't matter?

May 7, 2013

Speaker Wisdom from the Southern C Summit

I know I've already mentioned my experience at the Southern Coterie Summit in Jekyll Island, but I wanted to share a little bit more about the main reason I attended. When Southern C founder Cheri Leavy asked me to be a presenter at the conference, I was pretty surprised.

I've been to several conferences before, and even been part of a panel discussion, but I had never actually done my own presentation so this was kind of a dream come true for me.  

Since my business is content marketing and I've used my blog to grow that business, I guess I seemed a good fit to talk as part of a panel. 

My fellow panel members were two fabulous ladies who are also Southern C contributors. Mary Dell Harrington and Holly Phillips. 

Mary Dell is an incredible writer over at her wonderful blog Grown and Flown and she also contributes to the Huffington Post. She hails from Texas but now calls New York home. 

Holly (The English Room) is a blogger and interior designer whose wonderful bold style was the first thing I noticed about her. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and I just learned from her blog that we have art history degrees in common. 

Our panel was scheduled as the last session of the day, prior to the break before dinner. I knew everybody was losing steam and probably suffering from information overload from all the great presentations that day so I tried to keep my talk short and sweet. 

I spoke about how important it is for brands and businesses to tell their unique stories as a way to connect with their audience. My advice? Share stories that you are passionate about. I gave the example of the story I once shared on Facebook about my grandpa always drinking buttermilk with cornbread crumbled in it. Nothing particularly special about this story, except it means something to me and I feel passionate about it. Apparently it really resonated with folks because (at the writing of this post) it has received more than 27,000 comments! And all from people who had a similar meaningful story or memory that was worth sharing. 

I also talked about how important it is to use your blog or platform to tell other people's stories. Sometimes the best stories don't have an audience, but we can lend them one. My example of how I did this was with a post about artist Andy Saftel. By telling Andy's story on my blog, I was able to connect with him and begin to forge a relationship. He's now a client of mine. So you just never know what great connections and opportunities can come out of telling those great stories. 

Earlier that day at the Southern C Summit, we heard from Southern Living's Erin Shaw Street, who shared some great insight about how Southern Living has been able to stay vibrant and current for the last nearly 50 years. Of course this surprised nobody because it is after all Southern Living. 

We also heard from the creator of Charleston's DIG South conference and how a health scare prompted him to grab a'hold of his dreams of starting a conference and see them become reality. 

There was a wonderful presentation from Carrie Morey of Callies's Charleston Biscuits as well as her PR team at LeapFrog and the Stitch Design Company. So many wonderful folks who make the south great! 

I'm still sort of in shock that I was in their company, but I so appreciate the Southern C founders asking me to take part. And when people paid me compliments for a job well done,
I took my own advice and said "Thank You." 

May 5, 2013

Jekyll Island Adventures: the Southern Coterie Summit 2013

I just got home from a whirlwind week(end) at the inaugural Southern Coterie Summit and to quote my grandma, it was a big time. The Southern Coterie is a social network especially for folks who love and celebrate the south and I'm a member (as well as a contributor to its blog).

The network was started by the loveliest pair of ladies, Cheri Leavy and Whitney Long, who are great friends and when I heard they were planning an "in real life" meet-up, I knew I wanted to be part of it. 

Me with Whitney Long & Cheri Leavy, Southern Coterie Founders extraordinaire 
They surprised the socks off me when they asked me to be a speaker at the Southern C Summit in gorgeous Jekyll Island, Georgia. The Southern C Summit is an event for bloggers, writers, business owners and enthusiasts of the south.

As a blogger and now small business owner, it's so important to me to connect and network with people in my industry. I've attended other professional conferences before, but this one was unlike any other! 

Not only was it the inaugural Southern C Summit, this was my first trip to Jekyll Island and it more than lived up to my expectations, setting the most apropos backdrop for this utterly southern event. 

Crane Cottage ~ where my mom & I enjoyed lunch our first day on Jekyll Island
I took my momma along with me and she made a fine traveling companion and cheering section for my professional conference presentation debut. 

The first night we arrived, I attended an event called Cocktails & Conversation, hosted by 
Southern Living. The next day was packed full of learning opportunities as well as networking and making friends. The weather didn't quite hold up for all the outdoor events that were planned, but this is the south after all and it takes a lot more than rain to dampen our spirits. 

I gave my presentation as part of a panel with some fabulous ladies, but I think I'll devote an entire post to that. 

The highlight of our main dinner event was a keynote talk and impromptu fashion show from 
K. Cooper Ray, creative mastermind behind the southern fashion line Social Primer

Some of the fabulously talented, creative & lovely ladies I met
We ended the event with a great learning session about how to grow our online presence using tried and true methods from Internet consultant Mr. Ryan Dohrn. 

I learned a ton, but even better, I made some authentic connections. If you are on the fence about attending an event like this, let me encourage you to do it! I've been fortunate to learn from so many wonderful people on this blogging adventure and I hope it continues for a long time!

And for those of you who read my previous blog about my mini fashion emergency, I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Everyone was so sweet and kind. It didn't matter what anyone was wearing...after a little time together, we were all laughing and getting on like old friends. 

Missed the Southern C Summit in Jekyll Island? You can still jump on board with this great group of folks...there are plans for another event in Athens, Georgia as well as one in Nashville, Tennessee this fall! (Stay tuned for more info!) 

May 1, 2013

1982 World's Fair Opens in Knoxville

On this day in history, the 1982 World's Fair kicked off in my lovely town of Knoxville, Tennessee. I was just a wee babe at the time, but my parents bundled me up and carted me to the event. I wish I had at least some memory of it. But the glowing orb of the Sunsphere stands as a reminder of what once was. And no, it's not full of wigs.

Since we don't really have World's Fairs anymore, it's hard for younger folks to imagine what a grand event this was, but basically the eyes of the world were turned onto Knoxville. President Ronald Reagan was even part of the opening ceremony, which was broadcast on local and regional television. Other famous folks in attendance opening day? Why Dinah Shore of course and Porter Wagoner and Ricky Skaggs.

More than 11 million people attended during the World's Fair (from May 1 to Oct. 31, 1982), but it wasn't the moneymaker Knoxville civic leaders were hoping for. Knoxville ended up being saddled with a $46 million debt...yikes!

But I know lots of folks have wonderful memories of attending the fair, including my bff who was a World's Fair regular. There's a sweet nostalgia to an event like this that brings a community together. I hope in our age of technology and electronic everything we haven't lost that.