Strawberries at Lorenzen Farm

Yesterday was a chilly, cloudy day. We had no plans originally, but then I scrolled through Instagram. I follow someone on Instagram who lives in Chattanooga, and I get a lot of ideas of things to do from her. She posted about Lorenzen Farm, and we decided to go on a whim.

Lorenzen Farm is located in Dayton, TN, about 45 minutes away from where we live. It is a small, one acre family owned tulip and strawberry farm.

The farm is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, usually only in the mornings from 8 to 11 a.m., but yesterday they were open all day specially because it was Mother’s Day weekend. They are also available by appointment to pick in the evenings.

The strawberry season has just started, and will last about five weeks. There were plenty of red, ripe strawberries to pick and plenty more green ones ripening for later pickers.

It costs $15 for a gallon of strawberries, and the buckets are provided. You can pay with cash, check, venmo or paypal.

For the first time earlier this spring they grew tulips, which was a big hit. I saw the pictures on their social media accounts and it looked beautiful! Tulips are one of my favorite flowers, so it would be nice to do that next year.

We really enjoy u-pick farms. Last year we picked blueberries at The Blueberry Farm in LaFayette, GA. Read about that here. I am glad we have found a strawberry farm to add to the mix.

After we got home, Derek went to the grocery store and bought the shortcake dessert cups and whip cream. I am looking forward to enjoying that for the next couple of evenings!

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Two favorite restaurants

We have “rediscovered” two restaurants in our area.

When I say rediscovered, I mean that we ate at these places once before, before the pandemic. Then we stuck closer to home, and over the year, forgot how much we enjoyed our meals at these restaurants.

The first restaurant is Home Folks in Soddy-Daisy. Like the name implies, this is a casual setting, and the food reminds you of a good home cooked meal.

I enjoy the overall feeling of this place. The tables are covered with blue and white checkered table cloths, and there is old fashioned country-like décor.

This used to be a buffet-style restaurant. They have done away with the buffet, but they still serve all of the same great dishes. Now, you pick which food you want off the menu, and the waiter will bring all of the dishes to your table. You can eat as much or as little of all the dishes as you want.

Some of my favorites here are the pork and kraut, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. There is also dessert too, with choices like banana pudding and different kinds of pie. Too be honest, I am usually too full after eating here to manage any dessert!

The buffet type food is the main staple, but they also have a small menu that changes each day.

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I love the country-type atmosphere!
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I love the look of this stove!
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Yum! So many choices at Home Folks!

The second restaurant is 1885 Grill, in the St. Elmo neighborhood. This is a local chain, with two other locations.

The first time we ate here, I ordered on the boring side and got a chicken sandwich, but it was delicious, regardless.

This time, we came on a Saturday, and got to experience their weekend brunch. We were both very happy with our meals.

Derek got the biscuits and gravy with eggs. I have always been leery of biscuits and gravy, and he let me try a small taste. I liked it!

I got a breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, toast and grits. I love grits, and these were without a doubt the best grits I have ever had. They were nice and creamy, and flavorful too.

We went for brunch again, quite soon after our first time experiencing the brunch menu. This time I got the biscuits and gravy with eggs, with a side of grits, and he got the Belgian Waffle Bananas Foster, with a side of bacon. Another thumbs up from both of us.

There are so many other dishes on their menu I would like to try, such as the shrimp and grits (I know I will love the grits part!) and their gumbo.

Plus, when it gets warmer out, they have a nice outdoor seating area, which is right across the street from the Incline Railway.

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The outdoor seating at 1885 Grill is really nice, in warmer temperatures of course.
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Brunch at 1885 Grill is quickly becoming a favorite!

Wildflower Tea Shop and Apothecary

Yesterday Derek and I went to Wildflower Tea Shop and Apothecary for the first time. We loved it! Our only regret is that we did not go sooner.

As I’ve mentioned before, I do not like coffee. I am only a tea drinker, so this place is perfect for me. They only sell tea, there is no food here. However, they do sell a small amount of apothecary related things, like oils, soap and bath bombs. Of course, there is also loose leaf tea for purchase, too.

I loved the inside of this shop. It was so cozy feeling, and everything was so photographable! I had been coveting a photo of myself on the yellow settee that I have seen in photos on social media.

We ordered a pot to share of coconut crème chai. We got raw sugar as a sweetener and oat milk. It was delicious! The cups were small, and we were able to get about four cups of tea each. There is also an option to order one smaller personal pot, or just one cup.

I’d like to try something different next time, perhaps like the Chocolate Chai, Vanilla Oolong or Chamomile Lavender, but Derek and I are creatures of habit when we find something we like so no promises!

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A new Swedish bakery in town

If you’re in Chattanooga, and you want to support new, local businesses, let me suggest Fredriksson’s.

Fredriksson’s has just been started by my former co-worker, Sarah. She has always enjoyed baking, and recently decided to start her own business.

Her husband is from Sweden, and they lived in Sweden together before relocating to Chattanooga. She’s got the inside scoop on authentic, Swedish baked goods.

She’s told all of us ­­about fika, which in Sweden is basically a coffee and cake break. Fika also is about slowing down and enjoying time with friends or family.

Fredriksson’s is taking orders online at https://fredrikssons.square.site/. She was also at the Chattanooga market for the first time last weekend. We bought six of her buns in four different flavors: cinnamon, cardamom, blueberry and saffron. We also bought almond caramel cake.

According to Sarah, the cardamom and cinnamon are the two most quintessential Swedish flavors. These were also the two I enjoyed the most. The buns were not overly sweet, which I like. As a person who does not have much of a sweet tooth, something slathered in icing can be too much.

I look forward to buying from Fredriksson’s again in the future, and enjoying fika at home with my husband.

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Birthday lunch at the Cookie Jar Cafe

Yesterday was my birthday. To celebrate, we ate lunch at the Cookie Jar Cafe in Dunlap, Tennessee.

I had first heard about the Cookie Jar Cafe when I heard radio ads for Valentine’s Day reservations. I kept the name in my mind, tucked away for later.

Half of the draw of the Cookie Jar Cafe is the location. It is a family owned restaurant, and the family also owns a dairy farm on the same plot of land. While you’re waiting for a table (reservations are highly recommended) you can watch the cows grazing in the field.

The farm and restaurant are located in the Sequatchie Valley, so Walden’s Ridge looms overhead, making for a gorgeous backdrop.

They also have a small petting zoo behind the restaurant with goats, sheep, pigs and cows.

The food was excellent. I got a “meat and two” with chicken and dumplings, green beans and mac and cheese. An interesting side fact: I had never heard of a “meat and three” until I moved here. I figured it was a southern thing. Turns out it is, with its origins starting in Tennessee.

I am glad I went for the two sides instead of the three, because the portions were huge! It looked like I had barely made a dent on my plate. Next time I might try a sandwich. Derek got a burger with fries, and he said he enjoyed it, too.

The Cookie Jar Cafe is known for their desserts. We got an apple fry pie and a pumpkin spice cupcake to go.

On our way home, we stopped at the scenic overlook on the side of the highway, where we saw paragliders taking off.

It was a nice afternoon out. We will definitely come to the Cookie Jar Cafe again!

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The outside of the Cookie Jar Cafe.
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Such a beautiful scene!
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The inside of the Cookie Jar Cafe. Notice all the cookie jars lined along the ceiling on the shelves! I even spotted my mom’s own cookie jar, a blue cat.
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Happy birthday to me!
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My meat and two. You can see Derek’s burger in the background.
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The view from the scenic overlook on the way home.
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All of the paragliders taking off.

Alternative coffee options for an alternative way of life

Derek and I love coffee shops. You can read about some of the ones we frequent here.

The one thing I have missed the most during the pandemic is sitting inside a coffee shop. Getting to-go orders, or sitting outside, is just not the same. I miss the cozy ambience of being inside.

The only coffee shop we’ve never stopped going to is Rembrandt’s, because they have a large outdoor patio. I love going to Rembrandt’s, truly, but I ultimately want to rotate with the other places again.

Since the pandemic started, we have found two new coffee places. Except they’re not really places at all, which is best during a pandemic.

(Be) Caffeinated is a drive thru in Red Bank on Dayton Blvd, not far from where we live. It’s been open a little over a year. We had passed it multiple times, but never gave it a second thought. A drive thru is now one of the safest places you can go these days.

Again, as I’ve noted before, I can’t offer any opinions on the coffee. I only get chai lattes. However, at (Be) Caffeinated, Derek has ordered the Hazelnut Bliss as well as the Gig City Mocha. Derek says it is worth noting that their cold brew is strong. So strong that, getting a coffee in the early afternoon kept him up all night! We now know to go here in the morning.

A few months ago, when the Chattanooga Market opened up, we also discovered Spill the Beans, a coffee truck. At Spill the Beans, Derek has ordered the toffee nut cold brew. Spill the Beans’ schedule looks a little different these days, but normally you would find them at some of the bigger events in Chattanooga, as well as sporting events. We always look forward to going to the Market on weekends, and now Spill the Beans is included in that.

Our desire to get coffee and chai on the weekends has not waned despite the pandemic. At least we have these two options, which we will keep in rotation even after the pandemic has ended.

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The Cookie Lady

I do not have much of a sweet tooth for some “heavier” type desserts, like cakes and cupcakes, but I will not turn down a good cookie!

One of our favorite bake shops in the area is The Signal Mountain Cookie Lady. We discovered the shop the very first weekend I moved here. My parents were visiting and we were exploring around the mountain.

My mom is a good baker and is colloquially known as The Cookie Lady among her friends. So you can imagine us driving down the road, reading the names of the stores out loud, and us shouting “The Cookie Lady!!!” Naturally, we had to stop.

The Signal Mountain Cookie Lady’s website, www.signalmountaincookielady.com/, says that she has over 900 designs! Some of the ones we’ve gotten over the last year include fall leaves, llamas, polar bears, suns, flip flops and dinosaurs. It’s usually hard to choose which one to pick!

Her signature cookie, the one made into all of the designs, is a sugar cookie with almond flavored icing. I love almond flavored desserts, so this is one of the reasons why this place has become a favorite.

Of course, you can also get other types of cookies too, like oatmeal and chocolate chip. She also does custom orders too.

She wraps each cookie individually and ties it with a colored ribbon — a nice touch.

I always look forward to stopping here on a weekend and wondering which design I’ll get next!

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The Cookie Lady’s store front in Signal Mountain, TN.
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4th of July and taco cookies!
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The Blueberry Farm

We picked blueberries at The Blueberry Farm in LaFayette, Georgia this morning. We had a nice time, and we picked enough blueberries to last us a while!

The Blueberry Farm is open every day except for Wednesdays. Because of the pandemic, there was no contact with anyone during the process. There were clean buckets (labeled as such) on a picnic table by the parking lot. There are three different ways to pay: you can scan a QR code and pay digitally, or drop cash or a check into the payment box. The blueberries are $10 per gallon. You have to bring your open type of container to bring the blueberries home.

We arrived early, before 9 a.m. (it is open earlier than that) and we only saw one other person. We headed to the very back of the fields and did not see another soul until we left.

When we lived in Pennsylvania, we lived near a blueberry farm, and we went every summer. Those blueberry bushes were tiny in comparison to the ones at The Blueberry Farm, which has been established for a lot longer. Their website says that some of the original bushes are from the 70s! They are super tall! It is helpful that Derek is much taller than me. We made quick work by him picking at the top and me picking near the bottom.

I am looking forward to blueberries as a breakfast side and snack for the next few weeks!

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The Hot Chocolatier

What’s better on a cold morning with snow flurries than cups of hot chocolate?

We visited The Hot Chocolatier for the first time this week. It’s right across the street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, and perhaps for that very reason, it’s why we did not know this place was there. I’m always so enamored with the Choo Choo, that I have not paid attention to my surroundings. (Sorry!)

Last week I saw a picture on Instagram of a girl drinking a hot chocolate from there, and the post said that it was vanilla lavender hot chocolate. My interest was piqued.

The Hot Chocolatier has all of your chocolate and dessert needs. They had a lot of pastries to choose from. In addition to our hot chocolate, Derek got peanut butter fudge and I got a pistachio macaron. There is also a ton of chocolate candies to purchase.

Derek got Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon, and had espresso added in. I got what I had came for: the vanilla lavender hot chocolate. The hot chocolate menu looked amazing, and there were lots of flavors that we would like to come back for, such as salted caramel, s’mores and hazelnut.

The best part was the very large marshmallow in each of our cups.

There is a lot of space for seating, and there are windows looking into the kitchen so you can see the chocolate being made.

When we lived in Houston, we frequented a place called the Chocolate Bar. It is the same type of concept. We both agree that we like The Hot Chocolatier better though. We can’t wait to come back!

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Moon Pies

Did you know that Moon Pies originated, and are still made in Chattanooga today?

Being from the northeast, I had never heard of a Moon Pie before moving to Chattanooga.

According to Moonpie.com, “It all began in 1917 when a KY coal miner asked our traveling salesman for a snack “as big as the moon.” Earl Mitchell reported back and the bakery obliged with a tasty treat aptly named MoonPie. It was filling, fit in the lunch pail and the coal miners loved it. The rest, as they say, is history.”

A Moon Pie consists of two graham crackers with a marshmallow filling and is covered in a flavored coating.

The flavors are chocolate (the original) vanilla, strawberry, salted caramel and banana.

There is a Moon Pie General Store in Chattanooga, where you can buy Moon Pie anything: clothing, mugs, magnets, bumper stickers, Moon Pie ice cream, and of course the Moon Pies themselves.

When Derek and I were at the General Store this weekend, they were selling a new limited edition coconut flavor.

The Moon Pies come in different sizes. Regular (which is about the size of your palm), mini, and double decker.

I do not have much of a sweet tooth, so the minis are perfect for me. When we first moved to Chattanooga, I tried the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors. I prefer the chocolate.

When we first moved to Chattanooga, I remember noticing the Moon Pies in all of the grocery stores, and thinking about how different that was.

Have you ever had a Moon Pie? Which one is your favorite?

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