Charity Spotlight – H.A.B.I.T. – Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee.

H.A.B.I.T.Established in 1986, H.A.B.I.T., comprised of representatives from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, volunteers from the community, and private veterinary practitioners, work to explore the circumstances and consequences of the human-animal bond and to promote this valuable bond between people and animals.

As a program of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, H.A.B.I.T. sponsors animal-assisted therapy programs for those of all ages in a variety of settings such as nursing and retirement homes, assisted living centers, hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers, and area schools.

H.A.B.I.T. is currently seeking people and pet volunteers. For more information or to volunteer, contact H.A.B.I.T. at (865) 974-5633 or

The Tree and Vine – Knoxville, TN

The Tree and VineWhile my wife and I were in downtown Knoxville this past Saturday for the Market Square Art Fair, we made a short side trip to The Tree and Vine. The Tree and Vine is an olive oil and balsamic tasting shop just down Union Avenue from Market Square. Not being a fan of balsamic vinegar and having only used “plain” extra virgin olive oil, I was surprised at the number of infused oils and balsamics available to sample and purchase.

We were invited, even encouraged, to try all of the different olive oils and balsamic vinegars and to even try a combination of a couple. For example, we sampled a combination of their chipotle infused olive oil and blueberry infused aged balsamic. Separately, these two are very good, but combined you get an amazing mixture of heat and sweet. Perfect for a marinade or topping. They also had a sample of brownies (store bought mix) made with their blood orange fused olive oil instead of regular oil. A simple recipe replacement with a completely different result.

As I learned how the different oils and balsamics could be used or combined to enhance the flavors of any food, my biggest treat came with the lemon infused white balsamic. I’m somewhat of a simple kind of guy, so vanilla ice cream has almost always been topped with chocolate syrup. Well, not any more. I have now discovered the absolutely delicious addition of lemon infused white balsamic vinegar to vanilla ice cream. I guess I’m finally growing up.

So, if you are ever in the area, I encourage you to stop by The Tree and Vine at 439 Union Avenue, just off Market Square, in downtown Knoxville.

History of Oak Ridge in Photos

For anyone growing up in the East Tennessee area, the city of Oak Ridge has always been know as the “secret city”. And in 1942, as part of the Manhattan Project, the U.S. government acquired 70,000 acres of land in Eastern Tennessee and established a secret town called Oak Ridge. The name chosen to keep outside speculation to a minimum, because Oak Ridge served a vital role for the development of the atomic bomb. The massive complex of massive factories, administrative buildings and every other place a normal town needs to function, was developed for the sole purpose of separating uranium for the Manhattan Project. The completely planned community was designed by the architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and had a population of more than 70,000 people. Due to the sensitive nature of the work at Oak Ridge, the entire town was fenced in with armed guards and the entire place — much like the Manhattan Project in general — was a secret of the highest concern. Recently, the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office recently started to digitize its collection of archival photos and share them through Flickr. Most of these photos were taken by Ed Westcott, the only person allowed to photograph the Oak Ridge reservation during the Manhattan Project.

Link: DOE’s Oak Ridge Photostream

Bourbon Barrel Foods

Bourbon Barrel Foods is a maker of gourmet food products that reflect the rich heritage of Kentucky’s Bourbon Country, “The Napa Valley of the Bluegrass.” They make a variety of bourbon-infused sauces, spices and rubs that incorporate the rich, sweet and smoky flavor of bourbon. Their smoked paprikas, peppers, salts and sauces like Kentuckyaki are real compliments to great southern food.

Bourbon Barrel Foods also has a large selection of recipes on their web site including a Smoky Red Pepper & Feta Dip, Bourbon Barrel Bison Chili, & Bourbon Pecan Peach Cobbler.

Charity Spotlight – Josh and Friends

Around the world, cuddly canines known as “therapy dogs” visit hospitals everyday to help replace a patient’s anxiety and fear with wet kisses and unconditional love. Josh, the loving, wag-happy vanilla-colored Golden Retriever based out of Knoxville, Tennessee is one of those amazing canines that daily brings comfort to hundreds of hospitalized children.

Developed by veterinarian Dr. Randy Lange to benefit children facing health or other challenges, Josh and Friends is based on Dr. Lange’s fun-loving family Golden Retriever, Josh, and capitalizes on the power of the human/animal bond to comfort, teach and encourage children.

As an extension of that mission, The Josh and Friends Project, is emerging to national attention with the ability to impact the lives of even more children. Using the book, I’ll Be O.K. and the cuddly “Josh” plush puppy, The Josh and Friends Project is helping transform anxious hospital stays for children into friendship-filled adventures to wellness.

Made in Tennessee – Sweetwater Valley Farm

Sweetwater Valley Farm is located between Philadelphia and Loudon in the heart of southeast Tennessee’s dairy-rich Sweetwater Valley. Sweetwater Valley Farm is one of the few farms in the country producing fine farmstead cheese. Meaning, they control the process from cow to consumer in order to create high quality cheddar cheese. They offer a vast selection of cheddars as well as more than a dozen specialty gourmet cheeses such as Buttermilk, Garden Blend, Jalapeno, Adobo, and Roasted Garlic Pepper.

Sweetwater Valley Farm offers walking tours to educate their visitors about the sequence of events that form the food production chain that they describe as “from cows to cheese”. Tours are offered year round, by appointment, as well as regular walking tours during the spring and summer months Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. You can also visit The Udder Story exhibit. This houses a little bit of the past, answers the question of what dairy farming is today, and shares the technology of the future. Sweetwater Valley Farm is located at 17988 West Lee Hwy. in Philadelphia, TN and all of their cheeses are Made in Tennessee.

Charity Spotlight – Water Angel Ministries

Water Angel Ministries is a Christian outreach ministry to the homeless and at-risk in Knoxville, TN. What started out as a Girl Scout mission project in 2002 to provide bottled water to the homeless, God has transformed into a ministry for his body to serve the “least of these.” This ministry is open to all who are hurting, lost, and broken.

The Water Angels provide many services to the hurting, lost, and homeless of the area. Here are just a few of their services.

  • Church service for the homeless and inner city residents every Sunday at 2 PM.
  • Discipleship & Bible Study every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9 AM.
  • Back to School Block Part for the children. This year’s event is Saturday, August 13 from 10 Am until 2 PM.
  • Christmas Dinner and Worship for the homeless and inner city.

Every product donation received by Water Angel Ministries is given to the homeless. They do not sell anything. 100% of the financial donations received go toward operating the ministry and providing the services to assist the homeless into self-sufficiency. Every person volunteers their time, and no one draws a salary within the ministry. This is their way of giving back, and serving God whole-heartedly.