Author Archives: Kim Hall

About Kim Hall

Kim Hall created Too Darn Happy with the mission of helping you find happiness in all circumstances through the encouragement of faith, the practice of gratitude, and the discovery of joy, all spun together with fresh perspectives, practical advice, and a personal touch. She recently authored her first ebook, Practicing Gratitude and Discovering Joy-30 Days to a Happier You.

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

Did you ever see the movie Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts?

There was a line spoken that was so powerful I stopped to write it down mid-movie.

While enjoying a meal with friends in Italy, Robert’s fellow dinner guest commented Americans didn’t know L’arte di non fare niente. 

Loosely translated, he meant we did not understand nor practice the art of doing nothing. Although he didn’t say it, I imagine he also believed we were negligent in the related area of dolce far niente, or the sweetness of doing nothing.  

What could he have possibly meant?

The core of his message for marriages can be found in these words:



Delight in doing something for no reason beyond the joy derived from the activity.

But not in these:

Surfing the internet.

Texting on your cell phone.

Watching mindless television.

It’s about your intentions, the flutter of excitement, the shedding of concerns, and the smile that lightens your heart and lights up your face when you take that spur-of-the-moment step hand-in-hand with your spouse.

Last year my husband and I had “separated” because he was away on a work assignment.

I wrote this following a weekend visit:

We have our share of challenges, stumbling blocks, and too many to-do’s, and all those nasty goblins had us climbing our four small walls. 

When we stopped to take stock, we knew we needed to change our point of view to change our day.

That’s when we heard the Atlantic Ocean calling with weather more suited to mid-summer than early spring. 

While we weren’t familiar with the sweetness of doing nothing, we headed to the coast to do just that:

Reveling in temperatures normally reserved for July, we settled into our comfy chairs and closed our eyes. We dozed off to the whooshing heartbeat of the waves as the soft breeze brushed the unseasonably warm sun from our faces.

When we awoke, we strolled, holding hands now and again, along the length of the beach, more than a mile each way from jetty to stone jetty, dropping our cares along the way like so many pebbles in the sand.


L’arte di non fare niente and dolce far niente!

Create your own list of joy-full activities so you will be prepared for spontaneity when opportunity knocks.

For example, take a walk, play some cards, go bowling, or grab your kayak paddles.

I imagine you’ll find the sweetness of doing nothing is even tastier and more satisfying than a yummy Italian gelato on a hot summer’s day!

Question: What fun activities are on your list? 

May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim @ Too Darn Happy

Marvelous Museums of Knoxville, TN Part 3

Marvelous Museums of Knoxville, TN – Part 3

Knoxville, Tennessee, offers a wealth of venues for history buffs, which was an added bonus on our recent visit with relatives. We had taken in the Museum of Appalachia and the American Museum of Science & Energy, and next on the list was the Museum of East Tennessee History. We were interested in learning more about the people that wove the fabric of this beautiful place, from the the Cherokee Indians to the civil rights proponents.


My daughter dubbed the first exhibit as her favorite. The bright and interesting streetscape entrance included a corner drug store, soda fountain, and an actual restored streetcar from the early 1900′s, all of which you could enter and explore. The large collection of period goods and medicines invited close and leisurely examination, and we regularly would call out to one another to admire yet another found treasure. 


Once into the main area, the displays led us chronologically through the state’s history via a wealth of photos, artifacts, life-size models and much more. The temporary exhibit of the War of 1812 was declared tops by Andy—our Civil War enthusiast—for its depth of information on the places, participants and provocations involved in the conflict. He was pleased to see this period highlighted, for the very reason the museum stated: The importance of the War of 1812 in forging the future of the young United States is almost impossible to calculate. . .(it) remains one of the least understood and least remembered conflicts in American history. 


My husband’s heart was tugged by the common thread of American ingenuity, independent spirit, resourcefulness, solid character and basic grit he saw in Tennesseans, especially as they struggled through the highly divisive and destructive Civil War. The videos coupled with the personal and professional relics provided a fresh perspective on the thousands of families whose lives were forever changed because of this war.


The Myth of the Hillbilly display took top prize for me. I had no idea that writers, governments and even mission schools created and perpetuated the myth of local people as “hillbillies” to peddle stories, gain support and sell goods. The assortment of manufactured merchandise—hillbilly dictionary, Mountain Dew, recipe for Kickapoo Joy Juice, and much more—are a wry testament to the stereotype that continues to this day.


At visit’s end, we were delighted with the wide array of interesting exhibits, and the pleasant, well-lit and effortlessly navigable space they occupied. It’s convenient downtown location, along with free family Sundays made this yet another marvelous museum for our own collection, and I recommend it for yours, too!

What makes a museum a keeper for you?
May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim @ Too Darn Happy
Cure for Cabin Fever

Perfect Cure for Cabin Fever

Cure for Cabin Fever

Today’s post is by one of our fabulous contributors here on Happy Wives Club, Kim Hall @ Too Darn Happy. A couple weeks ago, she wrote a guest post and everyone loved it so much I asked her to write another. I’m SO happy she said yes!  I hope you enjoying reading it as much as I did.

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Did you catch that awful bug that goes around this time every year?

Here in the Northeast U.S., it tends to strike with a vengeance towards the end of the snow season, but before the flowers awaken.

You can’t miss the symptoms:

A bone-deep weariness, difficulty breathing, and an unbearable urge to throw off multiple layers of warm clothes as we run screaming through the streets, crazily yelling, “I can’t take this cold weather anymore! Bring on spring!”

Today’s guest post is by one of our regular contributors for Happy Wives Club, Kim Hall @ TooDarnHappy!  You loved her guest post a couple weeks ago so I asked her to write another and I’m so happy she said yes!


My dear hubby and I were struck with an extraordinarily virulent strain of the dreaded Cabin Fever in the thick of our innkeeping days. Our B&B was particularly busy in the winter, and consequently our hours were long, time for rest and relaxation was short, and patience was stretched thin.

When the snows finally began to recede, we were surprised and delighted by a mid-week day that dawned clear, bright and sunny, with zero chance of guests.

Work schedules quickly took a back seat to some good old-fashioned fun.

We dragged our kayaks out of hibernation from the old chicken coop and headed down to the still-frozen pond along with our camera gear, and proceeded to get really silly. We posed and played and laughed until our tummies hurt. “Hold on! I’ve got an idea,” Keith would yell, and then we’d give that a whirl. I’d run and slip across the ice to my tripod, set up the shot, and try to get back quickly without falling before the timer popped the shutter.

I love that my husband has a playful spirit.

He loves that I am an encourager.

Together we are at our best.

Although we still face regular temptation to snap at each other, we make a mindful choice every day of how to respond to bumps in the road. After all, we only have three choices in any situation: to accept, leave or change it. (For more on the applying the Three Door Rule, see here.)

What choices did we make on that spring day?

We chose grateful acceptance, because we weren’t sticking with our jobs and responsibilities.

We chose to change our state of mind and hearts by indulging in some wacky fun.

Additionally important, we chose gratitude: for the beautiful weather, the opportunity to spend quality time together, and especially for the winter that always, always gives birth to spring.

The next time you are experiencing Cabin Fever, apply intentional choices sprinkled with a generous measure of gratitude, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel!

Question: How do you cure Cabin Fever?

May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim @ Too Darn Happy


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AMSE sign

Marvelous Museums of Knoxville, TN – Part 2

We recently visited family in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee, and were greatly enjoying our role as tourists. The American Museum of Science and Energy had caught our eye, and we decided it was worth the short drive to the neighboring town of Oak Ridge.

However, I did hesitate when I saw the name of this museum. While I adore history, science just doesn’t spark my interest, and contrary to the advertised promise—a place where science and history come alive!—I thought the building would be full of yawn-inducing, dusty and dreary exhibits. Happily, I was very wrong.

In addition to areas covering the World of the Atom, Earth’s Energy Resources, and the Y-12 Plant and its role in national defense, AMSE houses an extensive collection covering the fascinating history of Oak Ridge, TN. This town was erected seemingly overnight as the home of the Manhattan Project on land the government had taken by Eminent Domain for the war effort. Heartbreaking letters dated in November had been sent to the property owners, carrying the following message:

The War Department intends to take possession of your farm December 1, 1942. It will be necessary for you to move, not later than that date.

Imagine living on a farm that had been in your family for generations, and you were being given weeks to move, without explanation!

The images, memorabilia, writings and recordings create a vivid picture of life in the secretive and secure town of 75,000 inhabitants. You can even wander through a Flat Top, the pre-fabricated houses that populated the city, and enjoy the 1940’s ambience of the uniquely designed home.

The story unfolds like a science fiction thriller—an impassioned letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt in August 1939, the purchase of 56,200 acres of land, massive construction of atomic facilities and an entire town, and the procurement of workers assigned to highly compartmentalized tasks—ultimately culminating in the creation and unleashing of the atomic bomb in August 1945.

Once you have made your way through the documents, images and artifacts that make up this interesting and sobering exhibit, take the time to peruse one of the temporary exhibits, or make your way upstairs to the Exploration Station, especially if you have children. As the museum notes: 

This popular area offers self-directed activities which explore light and color, sound, problem-solving, static electricity, robotics, vision and more.

Although we are adults, we enjoyed playing like kids for a while, and got to take part in an electrifying presentation, too.

At $5 per adult ticket, we agreed this museum was a bargain and would definitely recommend a visit!

Be sure to check back for Part 3: Museum of East Tennessee History


May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim @ Too Darn Happy


Appalachian Cabin Bedroom wm

Marvelous Museums of Knoxville, TN – Part 1

East Tennessee boasts a long and rich history of events both tragic and triumphant, from the infamous Cherokee Trail of Tears to the once-secret, now famous city of Oak Ridge. Our family has been interested in learning about these events and more, so we were excited to visit museums during our recent trip to the Knoxville area.

First up was The Museum of Appalachia—a re-creation of an authentic mountain village—just a short drive to Clinton from our hotel. Once on the grounds of the picturesque 63-acre property, you have access to more than thirty historical log buildings, including a saddle shop, smokehouse, cantilever barn, chapel, and the Mark Twain family cabin from Possum Trot.

As you meander around the farm, be prepared to be surprised at the small spaces they called home and the simple implements and supplies they possessed. Take time to marvel at the multiple exhibits including thousands of handcrafted, everyday objects and tools that eased their hardscrabble lives. Slow down to read the informational signs, and take note of the unique vocabulary, including words like jackstraws, whopperjawed, and upping blocks.

Peruse the old, handwritten letters, and learn the sorrowful message of those edged in black. Expect to be delighted at the expansive music section, with its wide assortment of photos, writings and memorabilia harking back to the origins of country music, the eclectic collection of stringed instruments, as well as the general store shelves full of popular products of old, and extensive amount of American Indian artifacts.

When you have finished exploring, the self-guided tour will return you to the gift shop where you began. Set aside time to leisurely roam the store, as there is much to see, smell and taste in their stock of delightful gifts, informative books, and whimsical toys. If you are hungry for some home-style Southern food, make a point to schedule your trip to coincide with lunch. You can visit the café, sit at a table overlooking the grounds, and enjoy free Wi-Fi as well. When you are done with your meal, indulge in one of their famously tempting desserts!

We gave this museum a big thumbs up and could have spent even more time here. The property was well-organized and clean, artifacts well-displayed, information was interesting and illuminating, and the folks were very friendly and helpful. Be sure to visit this treasure trove of history, and as they say at the museum, let the Appalachian past touch your soul!

Have you been here? What did you like best?

Marvelous Museums Part 2 coming soon: American Museum of Science and Energy-It’s more than electrifying!


May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim @ Too Darn Happy


Small Business of a Broken Promise

Small Business of a Broken Promise

Small Business of a Broken Promise


Love them for the tender committment they celebrate.

Not so much for the craziness that overtakes some brides so that they ought to be committed. . .

Years ago, my family hosted weddings and receptions at our comfortable and casual B&B. We welcomed the nicest guests in the world, and as one young woman noted, “The events you hold here are more like family reunions with a wedding in the middle. The emphasis is on the joyful relationships, not so much solely on the bride.”

One gorgeous autumn weekend, proud parents had rented the entire inn and invited about forty guests to join them in celebrating their daughter’s wedding. For rehearsal dinner, the young couple had prepared the meal and served it themselves to friends and family in our bright and cheery dining room, giving thanks for their presence in their lives.

Following the feast, the bride brought a figurine to me for safe-keeping: a homespun Willow Tree statue of a young man and woman holding lovingly to one another, titled “Promise.” She explained how she and her fiance had picked it out especially for the cake, to illustrate the promise of their love to one another. I gave her my word I would keep it tucked securely in a corner of the kitchen until needed.

Saturday dawned crisp, bright and beautiful, a perfect day for a wedding.

I was making breakfast—and I still don’t know how it happened—but I knocked the beloved decoration onto the floor. One of the groom’s legs broke off, and took part of the bride with it. I stood there in horror, wondering how in the world I was going to tell Annie*.

I soon had the opportunity to find out. When she came into the kitchen, I gulped, grabbed the two pieces, and confessed what I’d done. I told her a new one was already on its way and would arrive well before the ceremony. Then I held my breath, nervously awaiting her response.

She laughed, looking over the pieces, and commented at the irony of the now broken Promise. She even offered to put it back together if I had some glue. 

The rest of the day flew by flawlessly, with the young couple marrying under a brilliant orange sunset, an unbroken Promise in their hearts and on their cake. The funny story made the rounds of the guests, and everyone got a good chuckle out of it. 

The moral?

Remember it’s not the trappings of the wedding that will hold your marriage together, but the strength of the relationship that is the real glue.  

May you find happiness wherever you are! Kim @ Too Darn Happy

*Not her real name

QUESTION: What is your best piece of advice for a bride and groom on their wedding day?  (NEW: You can now leave comments on this page – just scroll down and click the Comments button)


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