Pennington Home

Pennington Home began as a small pop-up shop with a big and welcoming heart, opening its doors to the public in March 2016 in Madisonville. Owner Adam Pennington has always been passionate about home décor and wanted to pursue a store, which recently led to a new, permanent location in Sweetwater, Tennessee!To celebrate the new location’s grand opening, Adam and his wife, Kristin, wowed locals and visitors alike with a magical Christmas-themed open house. The store was like a winter wonderland, filled with whimsical woodland creatures and elegant décor. Live Christmas music welcomed guests into the store, and an array of finger foods ensured they had plenty of energy to browse the array of decorative offerings.From adorable, hand-crafted nativity scenes to Father Christmas figurines, Pennington Home’s open house abounded with design inspiration. And inspiration is at the heart of this little shop. According to Adam, the goal is that when people come inside the store, what they see can be recreated in their own homes. “That is our hope,” he says. “That people come in here and are inspired.”In addition to evolving from pop-up shop to permanent storefront, they’ve also added baby and interior services to the new location. Their goal is to keep sustainable products but also have a mission behind them. Keep an eye out soon for their upcoming website and online sales, and in the meantime, you can follow Pennington Home on Instagram and Facebook or visit them in Sweetwater!305 N. Main Street, Sweetwater, TNMonday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm

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Dr. Dale Kennedy’s Story

Athens dentist Dr. Dale Kennedy has seen the best of life and the worst of life. But for years, a medical career has always shaped his work, his helping others, and his walk from a Meigs County farm’s childhood to become a successful Athens businessman.

Early on, Dale had no idea what his future held. After his high school graduation he headed to Tennessee Tech to play football, hoping to become a high school coach. But changes were on the way. An admissions dean from the University of Tennessee sought him out, challenging him to test for a dental career. Dale passed the test, opted to seek a chemistry degree, and the rest is history.

Dale opened his dental office in 1979, but over the years traveled to Haiti, and the island of Dominica to help those who had no dental treatment available. It was there he became interested in a future idea called RAM, the Remote Area Medical group headed by Stan Brock. Dale fell in love with the organization and continues to this day to work with RAM in local and area medical programs, helping those who cannot afford medical and dental care.

“Probably one of my most memorable experiences came in 1982,” said Dale of his time overseas. “Using a bonded teeth whitening material, I fixed all six front teeth of a young lady who thought she would lose all of her teeth.” He said the expression on the young girl’s face after the treatment is one of his greatest memories of helping others.

The dental business continued to grow on a positive course, but hard times were just around the corner. In 1996 Dale was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and was given six months to live. He opted for surgery to remove all of the lymph nodes from his left side. The treatment caused excruciating pain. To ease that pain Dale was given a variety of drugs ranging from Percocet to Oxycontin. Dale admits his greatest struggle was to not rely on the pain pills during his daily work, and then try to receive minimal pain relief at night with the drugs.

“The darkest day I can remember was when I looked in a mirror and said ‘My God, I can’t stop taking these’ ” said Dale.

But change was on the way. With help from the Wellness Dental Committee, Dale discovered that the treatment he had been given was actually helping to create the pain, causing lymph to build up in his shoulder, with no place to go. The proper treatment for lymphodema was massage therapy. In six weeks, treatments took away the pain, and Dale said it saved his life.

“It could come back but so far I am cancer free,” said Dale. “One thing this story is going to do for me, is letting people know the truth about the many accusations that occurred during those dark times. It was a nightmare and in the right circumstances, anyone can be the victim of chemical dependence.”

He said how you respond and ask for help in treating that dependence takes courage. Dale believes those hard times cemented his work to help those in need. He said being at the right place at the right time and having a desire to help is one of the greatest blessings anyone can have.

“There is no better blessing on Earth than to be given the talent to get people out of pain,” said Dale, while sitting at his Athens’ office desk. “It is important to just hold a hand and have empathy for someone with cancer, or people with drug problems. Get out there and get busy, and as a child of God, be inspired to do what you can.”

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Athens Area Children’s Choir

Every Monday night for an hour and a half, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is alive with the sounds of music. It is Athens Area Children’s Choir practice time and the young choral group takes it very seriously. They sing their hearts out striving for perfect harmony. Not a soul is pretending to sing. Directed by Ellen Kimball, with piano accompaniment provided by Tennessee Wesleyan music major Tristen Rowland, this choir excels and their bookings are increasing all the time.

Actually, this is the second version of the Athens Area Children’s Choir. The first was started by Ellen Kimball and Kay Simmons in the mid-nineties. Both had musically gifted children and Athens had no choir for children. They took their children to Knoxville to audition for the Knoxville Children’s Choir and all of them made it. Before they started Ellen and Kay, both working moms, were thinking that was going to be a LOT of driving, and why not start their own choir. So with a little help and guidelines from the Knoxville Choir, they began a journey that would thrive for several years. Kay directed and Ellen played the piano for 35 to 40 children grades 4-9. Says Ellen, “Those were great years for the choir. We had exceptionally talented kids who were eager to sing.”

Choir leadership changed over time and by the early 2000’s the AACC was no longer operating. However, one choir member never forgot how wonderful it was to be a part of such a great choir. Lauren Brown Shepherd had the chance to revive the children’s choir when she became the Executive Director of the Athens Area Council for the Arts. Lauren felt that being a member of the choir had been life-changing for her and she wanted children of this era to be able to have the same opportunity.

Today’s choir is beginning its second year with 26 very enthusiastic young members. To become a member you must first audition, which makes it an honor to be able to participate. According to Ellen, “these kids are ‘sponges.’ They learn music so quickly and are talented, smart, and ready to sing. The choir is learning many genres of music such as classical, spirituals, Broadway show tunes, pop, and they are even singing in different languages.”

The choir went to the Biltmore on November 26 to perform during their very popular Candlelight Tour. There they performed five times, 30 minutes each, from 5:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Biltmore has required that all music performed must have been written before 1940. They sang at the tree lighting at Old Fashioned Downtown Christmas on Friday, November 17, and on December 10 at the Sunday performance of Christmas and All That Jazz at the Arts Center.

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Evergreens at Christmas

Decorating with evergreens and berries is one of the oldest wintertime traditions. In fact, decorating with such items predates Christmas and can be traced back to pagan times when the winter solstice was celebrated. I love bringing in fresh evergreens I usually wait until till the middle of December so that the fresh material doesn’t become overly dry. Biltmore changes out trees and live cut decorations every two weeks, to keep everything fresh for their visitors.

During the holidays, we find windows decorated with greenery and the wreaths on the doors are laden with apples, pineapples and other fruit. The natural decorations are a tradition that the first immigrants brought with them from England. Today’s decorations in Williamsburg, Virginia’s colonial capital are much more elaborate than those that would have been used 400 years ago.

Before you order your garlands and wreaths try a natural Christmas by looking at the greenery growing in your own yard. You can make an easy arrangement if you have boxwood. Take a hard fresh apple. Cut a small hole in the top that would fit a candle (I like the small white emergency candles). Take your cut boxwoods and make a green base by sticking the stems into the apple. The apple keeps the boxwood fresh and you have an all-natural window or table decoration. A small saucer or wax paper underneath keeps the surface clean and children love to make this fun
candle holder.

Other evergreens that are easy to find and use for decorating are:

Holly: (genus Ilex) vary dramatically, some are evergreen, some deciduous; some are 12-inch bushes, some 50-foot giants. However, most sport the characteristic shiny leaves and bright berries that deck the halls during the holiday season. This most traditional holiday greenery comes in several forms, both green and variegated. Female plants display bright red berries. Make sure that holly does not freeze after cutting, or the leaves and berries may blacken.

Boxwood: (Buxus semperviens): This small-leafed shrub is a longtime favorite for fine-textured wreaths and garland. It has an aroma that is either loved or hated, so be sure of your reaction before bringing it indoors! Some people (including me) think cut boxwood smells like cat pee. Another easy decoration you can make with boxwood is to take a clean small ceramic pot and florist oasis. Simply insert your boxwood into the wet oasis making a miniature Christmas tree. Even after it dries out the shape is still beautiful. This cute mini tree also makes a great hostess gift.

Eastern red cedar: (Juniperus virginiana): This native juniper may have a grey or blue cast with a slight bronzing of the tips in the winter. The branches have a wonderful cedar scent and produce an abundance of light blue berries. We see this plant growing along the road side and in abandoned fields. The aroma is great but the needles are super prickly you may need gloves to handle. I always line my mantles with this plant – the smell is wonderful.

Ivy: (helix): This vigorous vine is readily available in many yards. It makes an excellent green for holiday arrangements and is especially effective in raised containers from which the vines can tumble over the edges. The cut ends must be kept in water, though, or the leaves will quickly wilt.

White pine: (Pinus storbus): The soft, bluish-green, long needles are beautiful in their own right, but the cones the plant produces add an extra element of interest. The foliage is often wired into roping to hang indoors and outdoors. I was raised in the mountains of North Carolina where this tree is a native. All white pines growing here are planted there are no volunteers here in East Tennessee.

Southern magnolia: (Magnolia grandiflora): The large leaves are a glossy, dark green that contrast well with the velvety, brown undersides. Magnolia leaves make stunning wreaths and bases for large decorations. The leaves hold up very well, even without water. The leaves make a beautiful centerpiece for your dining room table. Try layering the leaves using both sides green then brown this adds interest to the arrangement.

Decorating for Christmas is always a joy. I think my home always looks sad after I take down the Christmas greenery in January. So enjoy! As the song says “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

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Alexis & William

A Very Special Winter Wedding

A December wedding can certainly give the “most wonderful time of the year” new meaning! Alexis and Andy Donegan were married on December 10, 2016, at Black Fox Farms in Cleveland, Tennessee. The bride and groom wanted to support local businesses as much as possible in planning their wedding. The wedding Coordinator was Donna Bridges at Bella Cross Wedding & Event Planning in Athens. BrittanyPhotographs provided photography services, while Eva’s Bakery in Etowah did the catering. The bouquets, boutonniere and the greenery used for centerpieces were made by Rebecca Houk at Goins’ Creations. The groom and groomsmen wore tuxedos from Johnson Department Store in Etowah, and the bride’s beautiful dress was from Ever After Bridal & Formal Wear in Cleveland, Tennessee. The Donegans will surely always cherish the memories from their very special winter wedding and all the wonderful people and businesses who helped make it happen!

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