Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun


Dead Sea Clay

With several social engagements, seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens (awesome) and staying up to watch the reboot of the X-Files (awesomer) last night, this little soap maker is plum tired out. Luckily, I did find time to play around in the soap lab on Friday. I’m trying to formulate a soap that will help my own combination skin. I used Dead Sea clay (shown in the picture above) and tea tree oil. It’s still too soon to say how this soap turned out but I’ll keep you posted!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire me. Check out some of my favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following Emmet Street Creations on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Emmet Street Creations would like to wish a very happy (if belated) birthday to Dolly Parton. My co-blogger, Kelly, is a huge fan and she spelled out why in a post last year.  She even travelled to Knoxville to see Dolly perform in person and to experience the wonder of made-from-scratch Southern biscuits

Who’s your favorite musician and how far have you traveled to see them perform?

Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

Dolly Parton Knoxville TN 2014It’s been another busy week on Emmet Street. Christine and I both attended an outing to the Cleveland Botanical Garden, where we enjoyed nature and the awesome glasshouse environments the garden maintains.

I ventured out to another outdoor musical festival, a country-flavored one, where I got to put on my cowgirl boots and stomp my feet to the music of The Band Perry and Miranda Lambert! (There were others, but those two acts were the reason I wanted to endure a country music festival. I’m picky about the artists I like in that musical genre. I mostly like mine old school.)

Christine’s been busy getting ready for her second appearance at The Flea at the Evaporator Works in Hudson, Ohio. She’s got a lot of goodies for you to see, sample and smell so plan to come out to see her on June 27!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • Goats in pajamas – This story from NPR asks, “Do goats really need to wear pajamas?” After viewing the videos, there is no question that yes, goats do need to wear pajamas.
  • Chia seed jam – Strawberry season doesn’t last forever. Preserve the flavor of the season with this jam.
  • Butterfly bike – Christine fell in love with this bike at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. It would be even more awesome if the wings flapped!

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Has the heat got you look for quick and easy dinner recipe? Check out Christine’s easy chicken pesto salad recipe. A few ingredients and you’ve got dinner done.

Have you made it to the farmer’s market yet? If so, remember most of the greens on the tops of your veggies are edible, so don’t throw them in the garbage or the compost pile! Check out this post discussing edible greens to get some inspiration.

Hello, Knoxville! A Cleveland gal’s tourist experience

Knoxville tourism muralMural in downtown Knoxville; Photo credit: Taken by me

This past May, I had the opportunity to take a road trip from Cleveland to Knoxville, Tenn. to see Ms. Dolly Parton perform a benefit concert at the University of Tennessee’s (UT) Thompson Boling Arena.

I’ve never been to Tennessee. I only had two frames of reference: the country glitz of Nashville and the country grit of the Smoky Mountains. My people on my mom’s side of the family are from Kentucky, so I expected Tennesseans to be just as friendly as most of my kin are, but other than that (and possibly finding some good cooking) I had no idea what awaited me.

We had a quick trip to Knoxville planned, with just a day and a half to explore before we moved on to our next destination, but we sure made the most of it.

Touring Knoxville

After we checked into our hotel, we decided to walk to downtown Knoxville, have a little dinner and check out what was going on in Market Square, since I read there would be some free live music in the evening. (If you don’t want to walk, Knoxville Area Transit offers free trolleys that run around the downtown and UT area. Check out their website for current trolley routes and times.)

Sunsphere Knoxville World's Fair ParkThe Sunsphere at the World’s Fair Park; Photo credit: Taken by me

The first notable site we came across was the World’s Fair Park, which was hard to miss with a glittering gold orb, dubbed the Sunsphere looming overhead. Not much was going on while we were there, but there is an amphitheater and convention center within the 52-acre park. When there aren’t events scheduled, there are walking paths, green space and a children’s playground for people to enjoy.

Tennessee Woman's Suffrage MemorialTennessee Woman’s Suffrage Memorial; Photo credit: Taken by me

We continued our walk around downtown, seeing the Tennessee Woman’s Suffrage Memorial, honoring those who campaigned for the passage of an amendment to the United States Constitution (it took 72 years, but eventually Congress came around…)

Tennessee TheatreThe historic Tennessee Theatre; Photo credit: Taken by me

Eventually, we stumbled upon the Tennessee Theatre, where we learned B.B. King was playing that night. I considered seeing if there were still tickets for the show available, since I know he’s still killing it at age 89 (I saw him a couple of years ago at Cleveland tour stop). But, our desire for a good meal after our day-long car ride won out.

We ambled back to Market Square and found the Tupelo Honey Cafe beckoning to us. Reviews of the Tupelo Honey Cafe say to expect a wait; it was busy, but the restaurant gods were working in our favor and we were seated right away.

Venerated Veggie Bowl at Tupelo Honey CafeVeggie heaven in a bowl at the Tupelo Honey Cafe; Photo credit: Taken by me

Oh my stars, I can see why this place is hoppin’! I ordered the Venerated Veggie Bowl. You can’t see it in the picture, but beneath a heaping helping of fried okra and sauteed greens, there are black-eyed peas and the creamiest cheesy grits I’ve ever had (the goat cheese is the key)! Everything was expertly prepared (from scratch) and that, paired with my tasty bourbon cocktail, left me very happy, indeed.

After the meal, we headed back to our hotel to sleep off our food comas, which was a bit of a shame because it looked like the square was starting to get lively as the band was setting up.

The next day, we returned to check out some of the shopping opportunities that looked interesting, but were closed by the time we arrived the previous day. We spent a long time browsing Mast General Store. Too much time, because we ran out of time to go to the East Tennessee Historical Society, which we had hoped to have time to visit.

I found Knoxville to be rich in music and art and highly active in preserving the area’s historical heritage. A day and a half is definitely not enough time to take it all in. Next visit, I’ll plan better and check the City of Knoxville Things to Do website for more must-dos!

Seeing the Dolly Lama

Dolly Parton Knoxville TN 2014Dolly Parton performing in Knoxville, 5/28/14; Photo credit: Taken by me

Finally, it was time for the main event: The Dolly concert! We had been looking forward to this event since we bought our tickets six months earlier.

The concert was sold out, and I was happy to learn it was a benefit for two charities Dolly is very involved with: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation.

I had read that Dolly has a very devoted following, but it didn’t really hit home until we got there and started talking to people while we were waiting for the show to start.

There was a group of people sitting near us that followed her from concert to concert and they had gotten to know other Dolly superfans. When they saw each other, they greeted each other warmly; the atmosphere felt more like a family reunion than an arena concert.

Next, we got to talking to the family sitting in front of us, they told us they had come from North Carolina and had bought their tickets as a 15th birthday present for their daughter (they said Dolly was playing a show closer to home, but it was at a casino which had a 21-and-over age restriction). It was awesome to get to see the girl experience the concert. When Dolly walked on stage, the girl was so overcome with excitement, she burst into tears. It was touching and I was so happy for her that her parents were able to give her the opportunity to come to the show.

Dolly Parton performing in Knoxville Tennessee May 28 2014Dolly Parton performing in Knoxville, 5/28/14; Photo credit: Taken by me.

As expected, Dolly cranked her performance up to 11. For over two hours, she performed old favorites, tunes from her new album, told stories and joked and flirted with the crowd. When the show was over, I definitely wanted more Dolly. Good thing I planned a trip to Dollywood the next day!

Welcome to Dollywood!

Dollywood sign at Dollywood amusement parkDollywood sign; Photo credit: Taken by me.

Since Knoxville is so close to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and we were still basking in the glow of the Dolly Parton concert, of course we had to take a trip to Dollywood.

I had learned a cool tip before we arrived: If you come to the park after 3 PM, you can use your ticket for entrance the next day, too. (If you’re planning a trip, check the ticketing website or call the park to make sure this policy is still in effect.) This is an excellent option, whether you plan to ride the rides (I wasn’t) or you just want to take in the shows and bask in all things Dolly.

The park is very family friendly and there is something there for nearly everyone to enjoy–whether you’re a fan of Dolly or not. Nearly every employee was very friendly, most notably this sweet older lady who was working in a little store that wasn’t attracting much business. She gave us her pitch about the store’s products and then chatted us up for nearly a half hour. I felt like gained an adopted Meemaw and she gave me a lot of good information about the park.

But, really, I was just there to see the Chasing Rainbows museum, which is described on the Dollywood website as a place Dolly created “To share the results of her decades of dreaming, and to inspire others to follow their own.” Plus, it includes tons of memorabilia from Dolly’s life and career.

Dollywood Chasing Rainbows MuseumThe Chasing Rainbows museum, full of all things Dolly; Photo credit: Taken by me

When you enter, you go through a gallery of photos of Dolly with celebrities she met (or worked with) over the years. You’re then led to a place that’s described as Dolly’s Attic, and you’re welcomed by Dolly herself, in the form of a “Dollygram.”

Dollygram at the Chasing Rainbows museumDolly welcomes you to her museum; Photo credit: Taken by me

After your welcome, you continue through an exhibit detailing her youth living in the Smoky Mountains, you see bits of memorabilia (like love letters from her childhood beaus, audio and video of a 12-year-old Dolly performing, her high school band uniform) and the piece de resistance, the famous Coat of Many Colors:

Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors at DollywoodThe Coat of Many Colors; Photo credit: Taken by me

I have to admit I’m skeptical this is the coat, since kids are usually hard on clothes (and since Dolly was number four of eleven children, I assume other siblings would have worn it, too), but the song lyrics–written on the back of two dry cleaner’s receipts–look legit. It was an interesting peek at her songwriting process.

Next you’re led into the shrine of Dolly’s celebrity years. You see examples of her stage costumes from the 60s to the present, the robe she wore when she was awarded an honorary PhD by the University of Tennessee and gave a wildly popular commencement speech, and you get to see Dolly Parton’s other awards, so, so many awards.

Dolly Parton's Awards at Dollywood's Chasing Rainbows museumKennedy Center Honors, American Music Awards & Grammys–oh my!; Photo credit: Taken by me

You could spend days looking at everything in this museum (and I tried), there is so much to see! For me, it accomplished its mission–I left feeling I could achieve anything I set my mind to and worked hard at. There’s no better feeling than that.

Happy birthday, Dolly Parton! A fan spells out why you’re awesome

Dolly Parton Knoxville TN 2014Dolly Parton performing in Knoxville, 5/28/14; Photo credit: Taken by me

Happy birthday, Dolly Rebecca Parton!

Over the years I have become a great fan of Dolly. She is a talented singer and songwriter, but that is not the reason I love her. I love her because of her FACE. Not her face–though she is quite lovely–but her F.A.C.E. Allow me to spin a Dolly-style yarn to explain.

I’ve never met Ms. Parton (but if her representatives feel inclined to set something up, I would clear my schedule for it), so my opinions are based on what I’ve observed while seeing her perform, what I’ve read and what I’ve learned while traveling to eastern Tennessee. But, I like to believe she’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of gal. It’d be hard to keep in character throughout nearly 50 years in the entertainment business, don’t you think?

F is for…

  • Fearless – The day after she graduated high school, she got on a bus with her guitar, a few clothes, a little bit of money and some big dreams. She was moving to Nashville to be a star. That takes a whole lot of guts.
  • Feminist – Though I don’t recall her coming right out and saying it, Dolly’s a feminist. But, listen to her song lyrics, read her autobiography and observe how she lives her life on her terms. Dolly has always been a woman who knows what she wants to achieve and sees no reason why she can’t achieve it. Don’t believe me? This post on the Feminist Times website, Dolly Parton: A Radical in Rhinestones spells it out pretty throughly.
  • Family and friends are important – At every opportunity, Dolly is quick to share how friends and family members help her continue to pursue her dreams and expresses love and gratitude for them. And she is loyal to them, even if they don’t always agree with her. I’d love to ask Judy Ogle, Dolly’s assistant and friend since the third grade, about some of their disagreements.

A is for…

  • Aspiration – From a very young age, Dolly had dreams of wearing pretty, new clothes (being from a poor family with 11 other siblings, you tend to wear a lot of hand-me-down clothes) and singing before an audience.  She had the opportunity to sing on a local radio show at 10 and never looked back. While she was still in school, she made trips to Nashville with her Uncle Billy, performing when she could and trying to find someone to introduce her to her big break. Eventually their hard work earned her the opportunity to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage and a deal to do a demo record. That first shot didn’t lead to great stardom, but it was a great learning opportunity and fostered her work ethic. She never gave up. She knew stardom had to happen to someone, so why not her?
  • Ability – Not only is gifted singer, she is a talented and prolific songwriter (I couldn’t find hard numbers on her songwriting catalog, but a quick BMI search turned up nearly 700 titles). Other artists easily recognize her talent and many have covered her famous tunes. She remains relevant to artists today with Jack White and Dave Grohl being a couple of notable examples.
  • Attitude – Dolly has a positive attitude, is quick to show gratitude and give credit to others for how they have helped her. She’s funny and self-deprecating, too. I dare you to watch this interview Dolly did for ABC News and not smile at least once.

C is for…

  • Confident – She likes her look, doesn’t care if it meets “mainstream” standards. She’s okay being an individual, and she wants you to be, too. As she writes in the prologue to her autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business: “I think it’s a big mistake to try to pattern yourself too much after anybody else. We are all individuals. Just like snowflakes, no two of us are alike, and that, to me, is the beauty of it.”
  • Control – Despite her shucks-I’m-just-a-poor-girl-from-Tennessee-who-likes-to-look-pretty-and-sing persona, there’s a big brain under Dolly’s wig. She’s a savvy businesswoman–people thought she was crazy for her Dollywood idea (which has been going strong since 1986)–and keeps tight control of her image and her song catalog.
  • Caring – Over the years, Dolly has supported many philanthropic causes, especially those that promote the welfare of her eastern Tennessee community. One that is particularly close to her heart, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, is an organization she founded to promote literacy by giving books to preschool-aged children. To date, they’ve given out over 60 million books. She also has been the honorary chairperson of the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation working to bring quality health care to Sevier County for more than 30 years.

E is for…

  • Entertainer – From the time she performed for the chickens in backyard, Dolly has known how to put on a show. Her concerts still sell out all over the world. She was a hit at the Glastonbury Festival this past year. After having the blessing to see her perform in person, I know that this woman knows how to keep a crowd on their feet and leave them wanting more.
  • Enthusiastic and full of energy – She’s got a pile of money in the bank; she could just go back to her Tennessee Mountain Home and just kick back and relax. But, she doesn’t. She’s still enthusiastic about her music career, her business ventures and busy thinking up new dreams to pursue. Her most recent dream brought to life–Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort–is opening this summer and it was recently reported that Dolly signed a movie development deal with NBC for a series of movies based on her songs and life.

I wish that “face” was spelled with an “I” because I would add introvert to the list. After learning of the social causes Dolly supports, hearing about her empathy for others who feel like an outsider and how she chooses to spend her down time–hanging out at home with her husband and family, reading, writing, praying/meditating–I believe Ms. Parton is a fellow introvert. I’d wager she views her glitz and glamour as the uniform she puts on to get her into the game. The game of doing what she loves most: performing music and bringing joy into the world.

Happy birthday, Dolly.