Monday, August 30, 2010

Update on hens in the city, not legal yet

My daughter with a miniature rooster at Grandma's.

My enthusiasm about hens in Knoxville has declined tremendously. I am concerned about several things:

--there will probably be unreasonable fees/roadblocks to acquire hens
--officials will likely be able to seize hens for frivolous reasons (as well as for serious reasons, which is OK)
--fees for not having hens registered properly, etc could be outrageous

I am disappointed. I remain very much in favor of hens in the city, but I no longer feel I would recommend hens under the above conditions.

In fact, after seeing where this ordinance was headed, I sent my own hens to live with grandma in Corryton.

As an example, let's say there's a case of bird flu in Memphis. What if officials here decide that's reason enough to come seize your hens? Not hens four doors down (across the county line), only your registered hens, which you paid unreasonably high annual fees just to have. No way I'd want that to happen to my girls.

Group of hens relaxing at Grandma's
I truly believe that only a handful of individuals want hens as pets, and that those owners would be responsible, caring hen owners.

Here's where things currently stand:

On a 5-3 vote, Knoxville City Council last week amended the animal control ordinance to regulate the keeping of female chickens in back yards, but hens are not yet legal because the zoning code currently prohibits farm animals within city limits.

The next step is to alter the zoning code to permit hens in residential zoning districts. Zoning code changes must originate with the Metropolitan Planning Commission, whose staff is expected to make recommendations on whether hens should be made legal in all or just some residential zones, and
whether they are permitted as a use-by-right or only with a use-on-review.

Once acted on by MPC, any proposed change or addition to the zoning code must then by approved by City Council in two separate readings.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Avoid Scams when unable to pay your mortgage

With so many homeowners in touble I wanted to pass along some important information I received about scams and where to aquire legitimate help here in Knoxville.

Local, state and federal officials joined with nonprofit housing counselors to warn citizens against unscrupulous loan modification scams.

In the current economy, many homeowners are having difficulty making theirmonthly mortgage payments or are behind on their payments. They can be prey to "loan modification scammers" - unethical people who can take your money and your home if you're not cautious and well-informed, according to materials distributed at a press conference this week.

Jackie Mayo, executive director of Knox Housing Partnership, advised that, if you are worried about keeping your home, avoid anyone who:

1. Asks for a fee in advance. (Local nonprofit housing counselors do not charge a fee.)

2. Guarantees that they'll stop a foreclosure or modify a loan.

3. Tells you to stop paying your mortgage company and start paying them instead.

4. Pressures you to sign paperwork you do not understand.

5. Claims official government approval.

6. Asks you to release your financial information.

"If it's too good to be true, it probably is," Mayo noted. Instead, Mayo urged citizens to contact one of the following nonprofit agencies which offer free mortgage counseling services:

Knoxville Area Urban Leage, 524-5511, http://www.thekaul.org/

Knox Housing Partnership, 637-1679, http://www.khp.org/

Legal Aid of East Tennessee, 637-0484, http://www.laet.org/

For more information on loan modification scams, visit http://www.loanscamalert.org/ or http://www.preventloanscams.org/.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Meal Planning/Budgeting site

My husband heard about an interesting site called "E-mealz," which I enjoyed looking through.

Look! They even use owls on their site!
The site has menus complete with shopping lists catered the store of your choice and your budget.

This might be a great way to get started if you are trying to budget your grocery spending, and you might want to use coupons... but you don't know how to get started. HINT HINT to my friend Sarah.

They include menu plans for several stores, even ALDI and also include many dietary preferences such as gluten-free, low carb, points, etc.

From their site: E-meals plans:

...are written and created by REAL moms with REAL families


...are balanced and family friendly

...are as easy as possible, but delicious and kid tested!

...consist of favorite recipes collected from hundreds of moms

...come with an organized, aisle by aisle grocery list

...are for 4 to 6 people

...are based on the current week sales at your grocery

...are priced at approximately $75 per week

...Two person plans average $35 total per week

On the site there's even a link to some solid coupon help, which I HIGHLY recommend reading here even if you don't have an interest in their service.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Much to be thankful for...

First, I'm thankful to be back on the computer after a nasty Trojan virus attacked, and amazingly, I didn't lose any information either! That deserves several exclamation points!!!!!!

Pregnant me with Yellow Bird, 2007
Second, and most immediate, I'm thankful for two kind gentlemen who helped me with my lovely car tonight. My little Yellow Bird, a yellow 1976 Honda Civic, wanted to be taken out, so I took her to Home Depot to pick up a gallon of paint.

When I returned, she turned over & over and wouldn't start. Nothing unusual there, but I smelled a faint smell of gas meaning I'd probably flooded her. A family stopped, and the father/husband, having heard my car, came over to help. So, round and round we went in the parking lot with him pushing.

Embarrassingly, I had actually forgotten how to roll off a car (my regular car is an automatic, but it's embarrassing because I should known better as the daughter of a Honda mechanic and the former owner of many manual transmission Hondas. Oh, and I also work at the family Honda repair business. And, I should've remembered that geriatric carburetors can be cantankerous in rainy weather). 

Yellow Bird, 2010 
Back to my story, finally, I asked if he wanted to switch out (since we both knew that I obviously didn't know what I was doing). He didn't speak much English, so he couldn't exactly explain what I should've been doing either. The car doesn't weigh much, but pushing him & the car was no easy task. After a couple rounds, another kind fellow came along and helped. Without his help, I don't think I would've been able to ever push her fast enough to get her going (I came home and collapsed on the couch). 

To you both: Thank you!

Husband & daughter with baby camel at Knoxville Zoo, 2010
Third, I'm thankful to have bought that gallon of paint because that means we have FINALLY decided what colors to paint our foyer, living, dining and hallway (thanks for the gift card!). We are ready to get started on what I'll call, Operation Vacate. In going over our finances, we feel we won't be able to get ahead unless we sell or rent our home and move into a much smaller place. A smaller place would give us the ability to save, save, save for what we really want: a home with acreage outside the city limits.

Last, but most important, I'm thankful to now have been married for ten years to a supportive partner who shares my dreams, celebrates creativity and loves me even when I stay out late at the Home Depot.

Happy Anniversary, Ben!
At a friend's wedding, 2008

Monday, August 16, 2010

BOGO deal for Knoxville Zoo Admission

Zebra at RestImage by ArcheiaMuriel via Flickr
Many have already heard about this deal, but it's worth promoting: With your Kroger card, you can purchase at Kroger one ticket to the zoo and get another one free. The deal ends August 22, 2010, but the tickets can be used anytime between now and the end of 2010. If you plan to visit the zoo more than a couple times, the best way to get in is to buy a membership.

But, for those who only go occasionally, the BOGO deal offers admission at a reasonable price. And, hopefully you can catch a ride in with someone who can get you free parking!  

Baby Chimpanzee George - Knoxville Zoo
Chimpanzee photo is of baby George at the Knoxville Zoo.
Image by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) via Flickr
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Knoxville Botanical Garden--Kids Day in the Garden

Koxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum has a fun-filled day planned for kids Saturday, August 21, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Admission is free, though some activities and food/drinks require purchase, and it's all for a good cause (see below)

From their site:
Share charity with your children during a fun-filled day of activities!

-Dancing Spider Yoga for Kids w/Ajeet

-Kids Art Exhibition

-Imagination Library Storytime w/ Knox County Library

-Face Painting

-H.A.B.I.T Dogs

-Create-a-craft are

-Bounce House

-Food, Drinks, & Much More!

All proceeds from Art in the Garden & Kids Day in the Garden benefit Random Acts of Flowers, a local charity dedicated to uplifting a person's spirits- whose volunteers repurpose flowers and make botanical deliveries to needy patients in area hospitals, nursing homes and hospice care centers.

For more information, call (865) 633-9082 or visit www.RandomActsofFlowers.org

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Smart Shoppers Meeting & Burlington Library park

Hope everyone has enjoyed tax-free weekend shopping. I bought very little and avoided all the crowds, but I wish I'd had time to visit Sam's Club.

The Smart Shoppers series at Burlington Library has covered where to find coupons, many ways of organizing them and and lots about Kroger Shopping and eCoupons. If you missed either of the first
two meetings, you can pick up the handouts at the next meeting, Monday, August 9 at 6 pm at the Burlington Library's meeting room.

The next topic will be "Grocery Shopping Tips at Food City and Ingles and Online Tools for Grocery Shopping." Julie Piller, who is leading this course, will be explaining some online resources that will hopefully make your grocery trips easier. Also, says Piller, "don't forget to bring coupons to swap with others."

If you can, please email or call the library at 525-5431 to let them know you're coming.


This Saturday, some of us involved with the city/county Parks & Recreation, Town Hall East, the East Knoxville community, some amazing business owners and others donated time to work at the new park. A Ribbon cutting/dedication time & date will be announced soon. You can view the WBIR footage from this page, and my little one is shown breaking in the playground equipment!



Photo: husband & daughter working in the park.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tax free cloth diapers

Bum Genius 3.0 cloth diaper with pocket insertImage by basietrane via Flickr
Diapers are a strange item to connect with the upcoming back-to-school tax-free shopping weekend, but they are tax-free. If you know any parents who are looking to purchase them, let them know!

Knoxville's cloth diaper store: http://www.cutietooties.com/


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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sam's Club open house days

Sam's ClubImage via Wikipedia
My husband alerted me today that he heard an advertisement that Sam's Club will have open house days this weekend during tax-free days. I found the details at Knoxville on a Dime:

Sam’s Club is letting non-members shop the store for three days: August 6,7 and 8 to 'Try Them Out' without the commitment of buying a membership and without having to pay the non-member surcharge.

I don't personally have a Sam's Club membership, though I would if I didn't use coupons. I hope to check things out and see if there's anything I want. I won't be sporting my coupon folder though since they don't accept coupons.

My husband just poked his head around the corner and gleamed with pride that he helped me find a deal to share today. He keeps joking that we can go get that 55 gallon drum of mayonnaise we've been wanting, and he wants me to post a picture of the same with this post. (We both hate mayo! ha ha)


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Monday, August 2, 2010

Saving (wasting) money on crafts

Lately, I've been venturing more and more into the crafting world. It's so accessible thanks to all the lovely coupons and great sales at places like Hobby Lobby, AC Moore and JoAnns. It's been costing quite a bit of money, but if I continue on these projects, I will save in the long run--a very.... long.... run.

If you've been thinking about getting into some of these crafts, I hope this post will serve as some inspiration to jump on in. Homemade crafts are always great gifts.

My newest adventure is in jewelry making. A friend took me to the craft store and helped me select the basics, and here's what I've come up with so far:


The rainbow necklace is for my daughter and has her name on it (which I've covered as a precaution b/c her name isn't common) Now that I see how easy earrings can be, I'll probably not buy another pair. Even better, I am no longer stressed about my orphan earrings. Now, I can simply make something else that's similar.

I also recently began making my own cards. I got started by attending a card-making party with a mom's group. At the party, I made these four cards--even the t-shirt is handmade, folded & everything. If you are already making scrapbooks, you probably already have everything you need to get started. I purchased a multpack of greetings stamps and a multipack of ink to keep this craft going. I also recently purchased a 200 pack of blank, multicolor cards & envelopes at Target for only $10. It's near the thank you notes on the bottom shelf and is available in several selections.


Finally, I also enjoy tie-dying. I began this craft as a fun event at my daughter's first birthday party and became hooked. Tie-dying is very inexpensive if you just use packaged dyes (rather than purchasing kits), a little salt and some rubber bands. Here are some of my projects: