Heart to Home Conference

by The Park Wife on January 16, 2015

As the owner of The Women Bloggers, over 3000 WOMEN bloggers strong, I have been blessed with some truly amazing women that teach me something new about life and myself daily.  However, the balancing act of being a help meet to my amazing husband, a homeschool mom, and running these networks has been the greatest lesson into who I am and who I want to be. And, to be honest, a little overwhelming.

I have a lot of conference options in the social media world in 2015 and I actually put one on~ our 5th Annual Arkansas Women Bloggers University.  I am also scheduled to speak  at several conferences; first up, the keynote at Arkansas Women in Ag, helping women tell their farm stories through blogs and social media. Y’all know I love farmers, farm wives and of course, promoting Taste Arkansas and Arkansas Grown.

HOWEVER, over the past few weeks I have been yearning to be surrounded in real life, in one place, with women who are seeking to have more of Him and less of themselves in their hearts, minds, worlds. A place where I can be encouraged and feel that I AM ENOUGH, I am His masterpiece just as I am, that being a mom is an amazing calling. And, a place where Miss Kay hugs me and tells me why I can not get my shrimp grits right.

Heart to Home Conference

Yes, I am going to Heart to Home Conference in West Monroe. The conference will feature the Women of Duck Commander (I wrote about my families love for the Robertson’s in a post promoting their Season 4 Premier), Dr. Joneal Kirby (who I can’t wait to meet and soak up her knowledge, love, and heart for the Lord and women), and then there is Tracey Eyster. Oh Tracey, the creator and host of MomLifeToday.com will be the emcee. If you are one of my Arkansas Women Blogger gals, you will remember Tracey as one of our speakers from the 2013 conference in Little Rock.  I could gush on and on about how Tracey’s nuggets of wisdom were given to me right when the Lord planned and how her heart for supporting and encouraging me and so many women has made all the difference. Check out the videos of Tracey interviewing me for MomLife Today over in the sidebar of my blog. This woman. When I think of her, it just makes my heart happy.

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I know it is going to an amazing weekend. I will get to tour Duck Commander, eat at Willie’s Diner, be encouraged, rejuvenated, listening and learning what the Word says, delving deeper into this amazing job I have been given. For I do know,  much is at stake.

If you are going to the Heart to Home conference, let me know.  I would love to meet up with you and hug your neck! Of course, there will be a lot of Instagramming and Tweeting happening from my end.

A wife and mother, it is who I am,
The Park Wife

Note: I purchased my own ticket to this event, I have not received anything in return for this post. This is about my heart for women and using the gifts I have been given to shine His light.

 

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We love living on an Arkansas State Park. However, one thing we have to be diligent about is leaving it. Y’all come here for vacation, we leave for vacation. We do spend a lot of our weekends at our cabin in the woods. But then sometimes things like this happen that bring along an WOWZERS moment……

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Isn’t it beautiful? In just over 24 hours, we received 4.1 inches of rain here at the park and the waterfall was ROARING. We all went to the overlook to check it out. Little Buckaroo sat in wonder and amazement. He did not want to leave. He looked up at me and said, “mom, Arkansas is so beautiful.”

That evening at the dinner table, Big Buckaroo asked us what we wanted to do on his day off. I mentioned a Sunday drive up toward Ponca to see the elk. The boys have not seen them, so off we went on a Sunday drive adventure.

First stop, the Ozark Burger Barn. In true Ozark hospitality, the gentleman told us we only needed two orders of fries (not four) or we would be wasting our money becasue they were plentiful and then said with squinty eyes “of courses we have sweet tea” (and it came in a HUGE cup compared to other drinks). The burgers were delicious.

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We drove the twisty, turny roads with beauty overwhelming us. I kept hearing the word AMAZING coming from the back seat.  Now friends, we live on a beautiful mountain, our property is in the Ozarks, the boys go with me all over the state for blogger/social media related work. This is not the first time they have experienced Arkansas.

Here is what was happening; kids live in the moment, truly look around and see with wonderment that which is front of them. A great lesson for us all.

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Then we came upon the Boxley Valley Mill Pond which is best known for its huge trumpeter swans that are visiting this time of year. They are beautiful from afar. Yes AFAR.

They are a little scary to me. Just ask my friend Mimi that works for P. Allen Smith. Allen’s swans have a vendetta against her and they will chase you down.

TRAVEL TIP: Just be sure you can run faster than the friends you go with and you will be fine.

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And, we found some elk! Rocky Mountain Elk were introduced here a few years ago to replace the somewhat smaller Eastern Elk that had been hunted into extinction. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission exchanged smallmouth bass for elk with Colorado.  Today, the Buffalo National River has elk ranging throughout its length and a herd population of more than 700 animals.

Elk tend to feed in the fields that lie along the Buffalo National River between Ponca and Boxley, just after sunrise and then again in the late afternoon.  To find them, as we did, simply drive from Ponca down Hwy 43 to the south, keeping an eye on the fields on the east side of the road (watch for traffic, too!).  Elk can be anywhere from the Ponca access to the trailhead for the Buffalo River Trail on Hwy 21, about a 7-mile range.

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The Arkansas Game & Fish Elk Education Center is a must stop.  The exhibits are wonderful, they have amazing books in their bookstore (at 20% off the retail price), a knowledgeable staff and it is FREE! Just watch out for bears.

sunday-drive-5The exhibit room, complete with full-body mounts of elk in natural settings and an Arkansas black bear. There are hands-on displays of hides, skulls and other interesting artifacts, a geology display, interactive computer quizzes, as well as a birding window to view the many species of birds that frequent the feeders.

It was an amazing adventure, right in our own backyard. Get out and show your kids the world around us.

Nice to be the tourist every once in a while,
The Park Wife

Next Up: Eagle Watch
Go check out my post of where to see eagles in Arkansas on Onlyinark.com.

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Welcome to my Friday Favorites. My mom, aka as the World’s Best Grandmother, just left to go back to Mississippi after a two-week visit. I am so thankful and blessed to have her. I talk about the Secret She Kept from Me for 20 Years here, and some of her amazing Grandma skills with I Was Taught to Chase Fireflies. So today’s list centers a lot around Moms.

#1. Taylor Swift

Alright, I am 43 and have missed out on Taylor-dom. Sure, I hear some of her songs on the radio and love them, I have also heard and read many stories of her talent as a songwriter. But, here is what won me over: Taylor Swift is a great person. How does this relate to moms? Well, evidently, her mama raised her right.

Taylor is very vocal about the fact that her mom is one of her best friends. So, Andrea Swift, I salute you for being there, lifting your girl up, and holding her when she was down. I always say the proof is in the pudding.  In the description of this video, Taylor writes “I experienced so many moments of true love this year, and all of them were with you. Here’s to more magic in 2015.” Yes, Taylor I am a FAN, of your music and your example of how to lead an authentic life with a heart for others. You do ROCK sistah.

Taylor also scoured the internet for fans in what became known as the 1989 Secret Sessions. Check that out when you get time.

#2 – This guy.

Learn from him and his mistakes. Pick up the phone and call your mom.

#3- Homeschool Resource

The Buckaroos received an amazing, fancy microscope for Christmas from our neighbor who is a real life astronomer. Now what does this Science-weak mom do? Google it. I found Carolina.com, Science and Math Curriculum.  Oh my goodness, I am ordering a zoology Microscope Slide set for Little Buckaroo. He loves animals and one of the things he wants to be right now is a dolphin trainer (in addition to running a summer camp on the beach and designing weapons for the military). Oh and yes, the Fishes, Whales, and Dolphins, National Audubon Society N. American Field Guide had been ordered.
Audubon Society Field Guide

#4- J.M. Cremps After Christmas Sale

I talk about JM Cremps, The Boys Store,  often on The Park Wife since it is my very favorite mom resource when it comes to finding adventurous gifts for boys. FYI-they do not pay me nor probably even know I am talking about them.  This is from their site:

We believe JM Cremp is someone most of us can relate with and we hope that you will feel comfortable welcoming him into your family. He is an explorer and an adventurer. He has been around the world experiencing great adventures. He’s also grown up in America as an adventurous boy. He has not lived a perfect life, but he has learned from his mistakes and failures. Through it all he has learned the importance of faith and his Christian roots are woven into his stories.

He has a strong love for his country and believes in defending our freedom. JM Cremp raised five sons of his own and has been married to his wife and best friend for many years. We aren’t quite sure of his age, but he isn’t all that young and isn’t all that old. His name is Jebediah Manchester Cremp….we just abbreviate it JM, and sometimes refer to him as Jeb.

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I love the mission and heart behind this company. Go check them out at JMCremps.com.

Have a wonderful weekend, and make sure you spread a little love in the world,
The Park Wife

Since I have blogged for a bazillion years and have the wonderful  The Women Bloggers communities, every single day I read posts from amazing women in my eight states, plus my bloggy world friends that live in  other states where I do not have communities (yet).  So, I want to share some things that have blessed me this week that you might not have seen yet. If you have others, put them in the comment section below.

 

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Last year, my husband took an old headboard and footboard  from the grandparent of an older friend of ours and made it into a bench for our entryway.  I love it. And yes, during the cold months, it collects a beautiful array of family and friends winter coats. I kept mentioning to my husband we needed a coat rack.

So, in true Big Buckaroo fashion, he made something for me that he knew had a lot of meaning and would make me smile every time I hung up a coat.

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He took some of the leftover wood from the bench project and added some of the door handles and water spigot handles that I had kept from my great grandparents home in Mississippi. I grew up in the house next door to them.

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When I look at it, it makes me remember my childhood. Great memories of when I had family close, I could run through “the park”, which was a beautiful area between my house and my grandparent/Great Grandparents home.

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Drinking from the hose while playing outside all day in the pasture, in the barns, and in the park.

repurposed-coat-rack-3My husband has repurposed old pieces, that hold old memories, in a place where we are creating new memories for our children.

Now, that is the best Christmas gift he could have ever given me.

To a New Year of great friendships and memories,
The Park Wife

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Last week, I had my first radio interview as the Taste Arkansas blog gal. They wanted to talk holiday food, gifts, and Arkansas. So, I went a step further and curated a huge list of Arkansas products, producers, craftsmen, Etsy gals, authors, and more. I love to buy local and want others to see the beautiful things we are producing right here in the Natural State.

Arkansas Gift Guide

Hope over to Taste Arkansas for the GIGANTIC list!

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It has been a busy holiday season and well,  I can not wait for even more. Spending time with good people, celebrating our Savior’s birth, making friends delicious food, and a lot of dirty dishes (o.k. that I could live without the dishes).

After years of avoiding it, I finally mastered the pecan pie. Hop over to my post on Taste Arkansas where I talk about what I call Candy with a Crust. One note: I made another one yesterday in my cast iron skillet, so much better than a pie plate.

Pecan Pie
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” -Psalm 34:8
The Park Wife

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I have some wonderful women in my real life brought to me through the blog world. They are women that are there for each other in good times and bad. And, during the holidays, we make sure to lift each other up and celebrate the season. This is my tribe.

For the third year, Arkansas Women Bloggers had an ornament exchange. I always love to see whose name I get, it brings another lady into my world up close and personal. This year I got my new friend Brittney, AKA Razorback Britt. Now, bless her heart, I am not crafty, those fancy shaped scissors freak me out and you do not want to get me started on glitter. It has been banned in our home.

So, I did the best I could. I know Britt’s favorite color is leopard. She is so trendy and cute, so I went with trying to make a leopard purse.

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I had to “borrow” this pic from Britt’s blog because in true The Park Wife fashion, I forgot to take a picture before I sent it off.

Full disclosure: Britt is also a Zumba gal. I tried making her a Zumba ornament. It got ugly. No, seriously ugly. I stepped out of my “no glitter rule” and bought glitter glue. It ran, did not dry over a two-day period. Sorry Britt, I did not send you that monstrosity (because it was STILL wet and would have stuck to everything).

And then, mine arrived from Lisa!

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I love them. So very thoughtful. A stranger who out of the kindness of giving is now in my life.

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Yes, I DO believe!
The Park Wife

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****The winners of the Georgia Pellegrini books are Jeanetta and Teresa Stout. Please email me your address to theparkwife@gmail.com.****

A post where I will gush about people I love and give away TWO of Georgia Pellegrini’s books.

One of the many benefits of being a talent agency for bloggers is that I get to meet some wonderful people from great companies.  As I have scaled back from blogger/influencer world domination, I have focused on working with people who make my heart happy, companies that are doing great things, companies that I can help because we have built a deeply-connected COMMUNITY of highly creative individuals that help each other,  build one another up, and we use those true relationships to work with companies to help them tell their stories.

I was very excited last year when Riceland signed on as a sponsor of the 2014 Arkansas Women Bloggers University (AWBU) conference.  They were one of my missing pieces of companies in Arkansas that I personally wanted to work with and one that I thought the Arkansas Women Bloggers could impact and be the social media megaphone for. It was a great conference where Riceland saw the power of our community.

So then, they invited us to the Delta.

The day after Thanksgiving, I packed my camo, some plaid, a Y’all sweatshirt (of course), my camera and my family and we headed to Stuttgart for the World Championship Duck Calling Contest.

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It was my first adventure to Stuttgart, the “Rice and Duck Capital of the World”, and it was so much fun. On Friday night, Riceland President Danny Kennedy hosted a small gathering of some Riceland employees and their families, champion angler Scott Rook and his family, and two of my bloggers came in early with their families. (Sidenote:  I love that blogger families are meeting up and becoming friends.)

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The food was amazing thanks to Riceland’s Barbecue King Louis Cole, people laughed, talked, and enjoyed each others company. Here is what I took away from my inside look that evening ~ Riceland employees are a family, they genuinely like to be around one another and support one another. They are a company run by farm families and I believe that atmosphere is cultivated and promoted from the top, Danny Kennedy, and I am not saying that just because he is a Mississippi State guy, well it helps.

Riceland provides marketing services for rice, soybeans and wheat grown by its 5,500 farmer-members in Arkansas and Missouri. They are the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice. The WORLDS! Right here in Arkansas. Yes, they make me even more proud to be an Arkansan.

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Mel of MamaBuzz, Robin Devore, The Park Wife

It is no surprise to me that they hired Robin Devore as their Director of Marketing Communications last year. When we met at AWBU, I knew she and I were going to be friends, not just work related talk, but true, in my life friends. Sometimes you just connect with people, and her heart for what she does and for people is contageous. She did an amazing job putting together Riceland’s presence at the festival and she is getting the hang of this social media stuff. As is her boss Bill, who is now a Twitter expert after hanging with us for a day.

GeorgiaStephAnd, then there was Georgia Pellegrini.

It is no secret that I stalk her on social media, we are similar in our love for the outdoors, good food, and opening ourselves up to hear and then tell people’s stories. She is doing some amazing things and I continually follow along as if I am at one of her Girls Adventure Weekends.

Look at her cute apron made by the amazing Debbie Arnold. Yes, she made us ALL one.

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Here is some of Georgia’s liquid gold (stock) in the making.

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Yes, I was giddy. I helped her make pumpkin rice pudding. YUM! Oh, and the girl does not take a bad picture, if she was not so sweet and kind, this would upset me.

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We even received a duck calling lesson from Pat Peacock who has won multiple women’s division World Duck Calling Championships (1951-’55). She took the time to come teach our families the correct way to call ducks. Pat is the only woman in history to win the men’s division not only once, but twice, in 1955 and 1956, and also reigned in the 1960 men’s Champion of Champions competition.

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Kat and Heather had just left and missed this picture.

Arkansas cultivates nearly 2 million acres in rice and exports a billion dollars’ worth of rice to other countries each year. Riceland is a company that is run by the farmers that are growing the food that feeds your family. Next time you are at the grocery store, grab that bag of Riceland rice.  The farmers thank you.

Because it is a rainy day on the mountain and I want to spread a little sunshine, I am giving away a copy of Georgia Pellegrini’s book, Food Heroes and one of her newest book, Modern Pioneering.

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TO ENTER
To enter, tell me your favorite rice recipe  in the Comments section of this post.

THE RULES
One entry per person, please.
Winner will be selected at random and announced next FRIDAY evening.

Quack Quack,
The Park Wife

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A Christmas Hallelujah

by The Park Wife on December 3, 2014

December has arrived and I am ready for a month of celebrating the birthdays of both of the Buckaroos and THE main guy, Jesus.

There is dancing happening to Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, cookies baking, and gifts being made and bought. I feel quiet jolly. Next week is slammed packed with holiday parties and events, and I am ready. I am going into the week prepared, well, as prepared as I get, focusing on memories, not trying to put on a show of being perfect or “put together”.  Not worrying that my gifts are not enough or my decor is not Pinterest worthy.

I came across this recently and thought y’all might enjoy it as much as I do.  Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is one of my all-time favorites. You need a little focus and encouragement, listen to it over and over.

Blessings friends!
The Park Wife

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When I smell apples and cinnamon cooking, it takes me back to my childhood. Walking into my grandparents home on a cold day into a warm kitchen filled with what I think is the aroma of the holidays.

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As you plan your holiday menus, I have a handy-dandy guide on Taste Arkansas to help you choose the right apple for that recipe you have been wanting try.

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If you need a quick and delicious apple and cinnamon recipe, check out  Honey -Baked Apples with Golden Raisins on Taste Arkansas. It will fill your kitchen and your belly with warmth and holiday spirit.

A bad tree does not yield good apples. Be a good tree.
The Park Wife

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