Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome to Sweetwa[w]ter

I, Lauren, will be the scribe for this day.  

Welcome to Sweetwater, TN!  The day following our cupcake contest, we endeavored into the blissful unknown of a new town.  After some research done by Katie, we decided upon Sweetwater, a small Tennessee city, forty-five or so minutes away from our house.  So, we set off, equipped with water bottles, walking shoes, and a camera.

Sweetwater, a place where one small street is sufficient for downtown and entertainment is the daily passing train.  A place where life moves at a snail's pace. 

Upon arriving, we headed straight to lunch.  Miss Maudie's was the first eatery recommended by a local (we've learned always to ask and trust locals), so obviously we went.  We were greeted by two smallish girls with bright eyes, aprons, and menus.  One of the two slightly odd-aged waitresses seated us, gave tasty suggestions, got our order, returned it perfectly, and ran the cash register all with quite noteworthy manners.  We were very impressed.  Needless to say, we gave her a hefty tip. 

Go on, Caleb and Katie, laugh.

                                             They had an abundance of herbs and spices.

 Walking down Main Street in Sweetwater is more akin to Mayberry than Knoxville.  One of its slight oddities is the ample options of antique shops.  If the shop on the left is not an antique shop, then certainly the one on the left is.  I asked one of the antique store owners to tell us a bit about Sweetwater and what we should visit.  After a few suggestions of places we'd already been, with a sweet, southern drawl she stated, "Sweetwa(w)ter's a quaint little town.  We do have a good time."  She said it as if to say, "Yes, we're little. No, we don't have much to do around here.  And yes, that's just how we like it."  I would describe it just as she did, quaint.

We finished the day as we started it --in Miss Maudie's.  Their homemade ice cream beckoned us. 

 So long Sweetwater...we enjoyed you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cupcakes! And the winner is...

    “When you look at a cupcake, you’ve got to smile”.  –Anne Byrn

  Katie here checking in on my first blog post.  Anne Byrn must be right because there were a lot of cupcakes on this adventure resulting in lots of beaming smiles.  Friday afternoon we launched ourselves into the world of flour, icing, and sprinkles with the determination of a Navy Seal and a larger pair of pants to settle the hotly debated issue of which cupcake reigns supreme in Knoxville. 
  The contenders: Magpies Bakery, Cities Cupcake Boutique, Gigi’s Cupcakes, and The Cup.  Because we had never heard of Magpies and had had a previous bad experience with a different mysterious bakery (you’ll have to ask us about it later) we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a funky and cute.  What made us even more gleeful was being greeted by a friendly platter full of free mini cupcakes to sample that were delicious available right as we walked in the door.  Apparently the workers at Magpies are mind-readers because we weren’t given an option of which cupcake to buy but were handed a cute red velvet cupcake that was iced as we waited. 
  As we walked into Cities Cupcakes I had no idea what to expect.  What was found could not have been more opposite than Magpies.  Lilac colored walls, white tables, and a cute, all-American-looking teenage girl named Lauren and a pleasant Grandma-aged lady waited to serve us. “All right, this one’s going to be pretty predicable and normal. How much more “typical cupcakey shop” can you get?” I thought as I approached the counter.  Wrong.  It turns out that the older lady is a learned dumpster diver as is the owner of the shop.  Who knew?  Definitely not me.  Our experience got even better in the un-expectedly interesting cupcake shop when, after learning of the cupcake contest being held, the teenage girl decided to actually buy us two cupcakes out of her pocket simply because she was such a believer in Cities Cupcakes.  These people were in this thing to win.  In the end, we jaunted out of those lilac doors with a Chicago dark chocolate, Paris strawberry, and caramel cupcake almost ready to crown a winner right there and then.
  After our impressive customer service received from our last stop, my standards going into Gigi’s were sky high.  I’m not sure if I was still on a high from Cities but, honestly, I felt a little disappointed and miffed after we walked out.  The presentation of the cupcakes was top notch, with icing piled high ensuring a good ‘ol dose of anaphylactic shock just by looking at that much sugar but I definitely was sensing somewhat of a disinterested, weird vibe from “cupcakeateers” Gigi’s.  Even though the service at Gigi’s was somewhat of a letdown, that didn’t do anything to damper our spirits…or maybe our energy was still rolling high because of those cupcake sample at Magpies. Either way, we remained pretty pumped as we moved on to our next target with a Midnight Magic cupcake in hand. 
  At the cool and classy shop named The Cup down the road we quickly and uneventfully picked up a tuxedo cupcake after recommendations from the workers, who, along with their recommendation told us that their best seller, red velvet, was gross. We loved their honesty and filed that away to remember when the judging came around.  They were also unanimously voted there and then as having the best atmosphere as we gallivanted off to our hard core judging arena, also commonly known as the Farragut Park.   
  The esteemed judges underwent a grueling process of interviews and analyzing but finally the pool of choices was narrowed to the 5: Dad, Mom, Caleb, Lauren, and I…keeping it in the family.  After an extremely messy but scrumptiously fun twenty minutes the buzzer went off, the curtain was drawn, the microwave beeped, and the cupcakes’ final judging was set.  Watch the video below with bated breath to find out the winner!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dumpster Diving

                The beginning, the commencement, the inauguration—this is the launch of our random, capricious summer.  Get excited!  The founders, or head honchos of Our Latest Hiatus have decided to rotate writers.  So, to follow seniority you all get to read me, Caleb, first.  This is your chance to politely exit the blog now until Katie and Lauren’s wit arrive on the scene.

As the three of us decided how to kick-start these three months of adventures, we thought what better way to get it started than to go dumpster diving.  It would capture the erratic nature of the blog, and we would get some free stuff along the way.  So, without further adieux, the chronicle of our first escapade—dumpster diving.

There was a chill in the air, a sense of excitement.  Before we left that late Saturday evening, I asked Katie if she was nervous and she simply echoed my sentiments with a transparent, “Yes...”  The thoughts of scary homeless men with knives and ravenous varmints filled our minds.  However, we mustered up the courage and left our fears at the door.  The girls geared up and I adorned myself with my mom’s red bandana and we set off into the dark, Knoxville night.

Some friends of mine had heard about what we were doing so they met us at our first stop, West Town Mall.  The evening started off slow; however, our fortunes soon changed and simple garbage was replaced with lavish garbage.  As shown in the video, our treasures included a Wet Seal sweater and a Dairy Queen sweatshirt.  Needless to say, the mood was very jubilant!  That is, until it happened.  The six of us were driving to our next dumpster, when we noticed someone following us—a mall cop.  He pulled us over and told us that a “report had been filed” with the following three violations:  number 1, dumpster diving is illegal in Tennessee; number 2, video-taping on mall property is illegal; and number 3, well that deserves its own, few sentences.  One of my friends, Brett, had decided to bring a machete with him.  I’m not sure whether he brought this to simply open up trash bags or to fulfill a sense of manly, heroism—personally, I’m leaning towards the latter.  At any rate, bringing a machete was our third violation.  With such a steep record of transgressions, including the public use of a two foot razor sharp weapon, I thought we might have gotten into more trouble, but the security guard was gracious and just asked us to leave. 

So, we left—to Krispy Kreme.  I’m not sure whether continuing this adventure was the correct thing to do, but because of the security guard’s unofficial authority and our strong belief that dumpster diving is legal (we actually checked later that night to make sure and found out it is ok), we moved our exploit to Krispy Kreme.  There we found a whole bag of perfectly delectable, scrumptious donuts.  I felt like a king coming home from a victorious war, reveling in his spoil.  It was a good night, and I fully expect to enjoy this evening again—maybe just not at West Town Mall.

Here's a video of our experience if you want to check it out: 

Next up on the blog, spending a day in a small town we've never been before.  Stay tuned...