Graffiti Art Library Activity for Banned Books Week

I have got a great job.  (Don’t get me wrong, there are days with seriously upset patrons and computer problems, etc., so please, when I’m feeling burned out, show me sympathy!) But today was a good day.

In the morning, I joined my co-workers for a database training.  I am a training nerd.  Love it!

In the late morning, I prepared a program proposal on assistive technology for those with special needs. I also corresponded about a health promotion month, scheduled a group of master’s students for a library tour, and then it was the afternoon.  I prepared some things for an afternoon meeting, and then I had even more fun.

Remember that it’s Banned Books Week?!  This week’s teen art event was a Graffiti Contest.  I will admit, I was nervous.  I had visions of my go-to work pants being covered in paint, teens grabbing cans of spray paint and running off to the streets, and the building actually being graffiti-ed.

But the teens were awesome today.  Naturally, I hadn’t planned things fully out, and they all stepped up to help me tape our “canvases” together.  We figured out how to fight the wind, and when we didn’t have enough boards for all the kids to take part, almost all of them decided to let someone else help them on their board.  They also reminded me that trash bags could double as aprons.  I believe a couple of them proudly called them “Hillbilly Aprons.”

Thankfully, I got a few pics of the back of their heads, so I can post those online.  I have some other really great pictures with faces that I wish I could share on here.  (Funny story about me and pictures…one boy was surprised to learn that I was the manager.  He thought I was “just the Library Photographer.”)

I think for a while they just had fun spraying as much as possible onto the poster boards.  But when they learned they only had 15 minutes, the paintings began to take shape.

Woo for banned forms of expression!

The votes for the winner are still coming in.  We’ll be announcing the winner tomorrow.  But I’m convinced that I’m the real winner.  I got paid to help kids spray paint.  No one sprayed anyone else.  Parents hung around to watch their kids and called other mothers to say they’d take pictures for them.  Only a few spots of grass got sprayed. My work pants are paint-free.  I had a blast.  Some of the teens actually said “thank you for doing this for us.”  And I got to listen to this while one of the participants called her mom:

  • Girl: Mom, I’m going to stay at the library a little longer today for the graffiti art contest.
  • Mom:  Mer, mer, mer (I couldn’t hear that end of the conversation).
  • Girl:  Remember, I told you they started doing all sorts of fun stuff at the library?


Picnicking at Metcalf Bottoms | GSMNP

Sunday afternoon/evening, we ventured out to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area in Wears Valley for my company’s staff picnic.  The weather was perfect for a picnic.  Fall is lovely here.

I love driving along Wears Valley Road.  You see plenty of scenery like this:

Google told us it would take us just under an hour, it ended up being more like 1 h 10 minutes from downtown Knoxville. Thankfully, everyone had a better idea where they were going and were earlier enough to get the grill going.

The crowd wasn’t as big as we had expected/hoped, but I still had a great time conversing.  Work was only mentioned once!  It is so refreshing to talk to my c0-workers, who are great folks, about food, travels, music, etc. without having to focus on occupational woes 🙂

I forgot to ask everyone how they felt about their pics being put up on the blog, so my people pics are quite limited in this post.  Here’s the husband filling his plate:

Like I said, I’m short on people pics.  I did, however, get a puppy pic (okay, not a puppy anymore, but it has more of a ring to it!).

And a pic of a boy with his another person’s dog:

The company was great, but the food held its own.  We had your picnic/potluck staples:

I ended up with an overflowing plate with a portabella mushroom sandwich, some yummy potato salad, grilled squash and zucchini, and an Italian cucumber salad.

I missed out on the razzleberry pie, which I hear was quite tasty.  I foraged long enough to fill my dessert plate nevertheless.

The party started to wind down a bit before dusk, which was convenient considering the windy roads we would had to drive home on.  We considered stopping for ice cream at a quaint, middle-of-nowhere ice cream shop, but I wasn’t actually hungry so we just stopped for pictures.

Doesn’t having an ice cream cone on one of those rocking chairs seem like a perfect end to the weekend?  (We ended up opting for Marble Slab in Market Square after the hour plus drive home….not a bad end either.)

This stop had some interesting “lawn ornaments.”  Bev or Mom, do you see these ambitious, somewhat silly projects in your future??

Opa! | Knoxville’s Greek Heritage Festival

Unlike my trip to the Hola Festival, my trip to GreekFest occurred while the festival was still in full swing.  Jordan was busy with some geo-research, so I ventured out on my lonesome.  Having company during things like this is always fun, but when I am wandering on my own, I do not feel as rushed when taking pictures.  It’s nice to snap away and not feel like I’m holding anyone up.

I parked at Earthfare and walked to the Greek Orthodox Church on Kingston Pike from there.  There was parking available a bit closer, but it seemed like less of a hassle to park 300 yards farther and walk a bit more.

I think the concept of this festival is intriguing.  Most people come for the cultural experience, but the church and the Greek community not only share their culture, but use the festival as a way to share the gospel during church “tours.”  I do not necessarily agree with all of the theology that was presented (I believe a person must make a conscious choice of accepting salvation, though it’s not a one-time, good-to-go ticket), but I have to respect the Church for creating such a successful event that draws many people to their church.

The building itself is stunning.  Truly beautiful.  I love mosaics and stained glass.  Can’t help it.  I also enjoy quizzing myself when trying to interpret the symbolism in the architecture and artwork.

Before entering the nave, people are supposed to light candles in the vestibule.

I sneaked quietly into the nave, since I was a little late for the tour that had started.  (That is more than I can say for some women who jingle-jangled their way into the nave after they had purchased belts and headbands from the market).

There were two larger stained glass windows: one that depicts the crucifixion and one the resurrection.

The rotunda was beautiful as well.  I believe you know who this guy is.

Across the annex, there was a Greek Marketplace.

Items sold included Greek pastries in mass…

…including a variation on a delicious dessert we had at Ehaan’s birthday

…and scenes from Greece…

…and those jingle-jangle jewelry pieces, headbands, and belts…

…and pottery and serving dishes…

…and finally clothing.  (I had a slight desire to buy myself a shirt, but held it together)

Most of the food was sold outside in the parking lot.  They offered lamb gyros, lamb kabobs, lamb sandwiches, (yea for Oxford commas!) and roast lamb.  There were also a variety of chicken dishes, Greek coffee, and Greek salad variations for sale.

It was quite busy.  I had to stand on my tip-toes to see the dancing, and in order to get a decent picture I had to hover over the people in front of me.  I’m sure they were thrilled.

After my tip-toes gave out and I had my fill of dancing, I decided to settle down with the my very own Greek purchases.  Any guesses to what’s in here?

I bought one assorted pastry box:

and also one box of only baklava.

It was wonderful, gooey, nutty, and crispy.  I behaved myself pretty well while at the festival.  I only ate one piece of baklava while there.  Since I was at the festival alone and wanted to share the experience with others, I decided to bring home a box or two of the treats to share.

And it’s been working out quite well.  I think Jordan might tell you that he has a deeper appreciation of Greek Culture after tasting the baklava and kataïfi. We have done some real damage between yesterday and today (think baklava for breakfast).  I don’t expect the treats to be around too much longer 🙂

Laughing Seed Cafe Review

The Laughing Seed Cafe is an award-winning all vegetarian restaurant in Asheville.  It offers oodles of vegan and gluten-free options.  I assure you, no one felt like he or she was sacrificing taste by eating here.

The weather was great on Saturday, especially since the sun started to hide a bit late in the early evening, so we decided to sit outside.  Thankfully, we were a little early for the supper crowd, so we did not have to wait at all to be seated.

The atmosphere, and thus the above pictures, was fine, but the food was the best part.

Jordan ordered one of the only completely raw dishes on the menu–the pesto manicotti.  Instead of noodles, the cashew ricotta cheese and pesto were wrapped in marinated zucchini slices.  The colors were beautiful, and the dish had great flavor (especially compared to my lame attempts at making cashew cheese!).

I opted for the Lowcountry Roll Ups, which serves as a vegetarian BBQ dish.  The coleslaw on the side was excellent; the brown rice was just brown rice.  The roll up was delicious and definitely took care of my most-recent BBQ craving.  If I wouldn’t have been eating at an all-vegetarian restaurant, I would have checked with the wait staff again to make sure I wasn’t having meat.  The texture was chewy, but not chewy, and the taste was right on.

If you’re visiting Asheville and haven’t tried this place, I highly recommend.  The menu offers so many unique flavor combinations, and so many of the options are so healthful.

I’m thrilled to say that I’ve finally eaten at Laughing Seed Cafe, but this go round we weren’t hungry enough to partake in any appetizers, freshly-squeezed juices, or vegan Mayan chocolate cakes.  So I hope we’ll be making a few more return to trips!

Mt. LeConte 2.0 | Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I told you I tried to squeeze too much activity into the weekend, didn’t I?  After my jelly thighs yoga and a 6 mile run, I still thought it would be a good idea to put in 10.5 miles hiking during the weekend.  This is what happens when you have only two days to live it up before Monday brings your fun and physical activity meters down.

We’ve hike Mt. LeConte just one time before.  I thought it was the most rewarding hike we’ve done in the Smokies so far.  It serves as a good introduction to the park, and “the other Jordan” hadn’t been there yet.

Since I’ve talked about the hike before, I will just bombard you with some pictures.  From the climb:

And then we made it to the top.  There was no one else there when we made it to ledge, which was great to see considering the last time we hiked Mt. LeConte, we were barely able to get a picture without oodles of other people in it.  We took our water and CLIF bar breaks in this wonderful setting.

I know, those shorts are not exactly flattering for me.  Let’s pretend I had a different, cooler pair of shorts on.

We also stayed in the lodge for a while, hovering over hot chocolate (it was cold up there!) and an outdoor enthusiast magazine that had made its way to the top of the mountain with us.

As usual, the way back down the mountain is sooo much easier/faster.  We stopped to pretend like there was mountain climbing going on, and also stumbled upon a caterpillar getting to work on its trans-formative home.


I got photo-bombed by Jordan (of the husband variety) while attempting to catch the caterpillar in action!  I am positive he didn’t want that picture making it onto the blog but that’s what he gets for photo-bombing, right?

I think the three of us were all pretty worn out by the time we reached the car.  It felt great to sit down.

We were hungry too.  So we stuck with our post-hike tradition of eating at Taste of India in Pigeon Forge.  That saag is just too good.

I’m still feeling a bit of the weekend in my muscles.  Really, I think that’s a good thing.  Every time I feel another ache, I just remember that I had a fun-filled weekend!