I recently came out as a FOODIE blogger. I know, shocking. I have been around here over eight years and I am just letting you know my secret.
Here is the thing. I cook dinner every night and we eat together at our dinner table (well, that was until peewee football entered our world). But, I rarely talk on here about cooking food, sure I talk a lot about growing food, farmers’ markets and all that amazing stuff I have been able to be a part of. Earlier this year, I took over the content for Taste Arkansas, the food blog for Arkansas Farm Bureau. I hire some of my Arkansas Women Blogger gals for some content and I provide the rest.
I love being a part of the Arkansas Farm Bureau family, telling the story of our Arkansas farmers and ranchers through food. Amazing things are going to happen. Go over and read about it on Taste Arkansas.
We are still working on the cabin in the woods. Pause for big sigh……
Five years ago, we started out with a firm foundation, look how small our baby was. Sigh again…
My amazing man is building this mostly on his own (with some help from his dad and myself, have mercy). Fitting a trip to the woods to work on it has been tricky, but we have revved back up.
Big Buckaroo and I put the floor down. Very tedious work, blogging is much more fun.
Then, it had to be sanded. Cleaned up. And, sanded again. Sigh, oh our aching backs.
It is worth it, they are very pretty (in my outdoorsy, cabin in the woods point of view).
Then, they needed to be stained. This was a bit stressful.
They might not be perfect.
But, when I look at them, they make me happy. I will always have the memory of my husband and I doing this together. Our boys will bring their kids here one day and they will tell them about their grandparents building this little place in the woods where we could gather as a family, make memories, and enjoy the ordinary.
Chasing fireflies in the evening is one of my favorite childhood memories. Growing up, my mom was raising four kids (three of them boys, have mercy) pretty much alone, yet, she always made sure that our childhoods were full of happiness and good times.
When my mom, aka the world’s best grandma, came to visit recently for a few weeks, she asked the boys if they had been out to catch fireflies yet this Summer. She was appalled that I had not taken them out yet. Plans were made, jars were acquired.
We ventured outside, suspended at our ankles was a beautiful twinkling jeweled carpet. They seemed to multiply as the darkness took over.
We launched forward with our hands cupped trying to capture Tinkerbell. We laughed. We took the time to be in awe of the amazing creation that is the firefly.
I am thankful the boys have a grandmother that teaches them to go out and chase the shining fire, to revel amongst the clouds of living stars twinkling at their feet, but most of all, that she is teaching them, as she did me, to be like the firefly and shine from within.
I see your light, my brave and courageous firefly.
I live on a state park. I am in my 40s and tent camping does not appeal to me for so many reasons on so many levels. But, Glamping, a little Glamour while camping, yes ma’am. Count me in!
For about three years now, I have talked about Glamping to my husband, blogger friends, people in the park, people in line at Walmart, anyone who would listen. My husband loved the idea and has talked it up for years in his state park circles.
So, I just decided to quit talking about it and make it happen. I gathered some dear friends of mine, who I just happen to have met through the blog world many years ago and are real life friends of mine. Thankfully, a few of them are very crafty and have amazing stashes of vintage linens, quilts, and yes, even a chandelier.
The canoe came with the campsite thankfully, who had room for a canoe with all the decor and food packed in our vehicles.
Flowers courtesy of my Master Gardener friend Miss Fern who is in her mid-80s and spent well over an hour walking us around her yard teaching us about flowers and life.
I am thankful that some of my bloggy friends are foodie bloggers. Yes, it makes it delicious and pretty.
This is the inside of the yurt we rented. My husband really wanted for us to call it Glurting (Glamour & Yurt) instead of Glamping. Men.
The weekend reminded me to go out and appreciate my own backyard. Be it early in the morning with a cup of coffee (strong coffee Jeanetta) as you watch the sunrise, or with a group of your friends laughing and toasting the night away.
Just get outside. And, make it comfortable and pretty, chandelier optional.
The Park Wife
You can find some wonderful pictures of GlampingAR on Instagram and facebook by searching for #glampingar. You can also go like the Arkansas Glamping Facebook page. Also watch the blogs of my GlampingAR gals, I bet they share their view of the park.
I had a wonderful time at P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm recently for the annual Garden2Blog adventure. I have been several times to this gardener’s mecca and I see something new and inspiring every time. Allen and his team are amazing (stay tuned for the posting of a video they shot while I was there, seriously, there were cartwheels).
End of the day, Allen and I were worn out, but still smiling.
The Garden Home is styled after 19th Century American farmstead and may look old, but it’s not. Allen combined the romance of the period into a modern structure of sustainable design. The home is energy-efficient and incorporates such elements as a cistern for water collection, wall insulation made from soy and old blue jeans and using the sun to preheat water through a network of tubing.
There is so much to show you, but today, let’s talk about his kitchens. Yes, that is plural.
First, the one in the house:
One day Viking Stove, one day!
This represents the whole kitchen to me ~ light-filled, white-on-white, marble, pale greens ~ bringing the outdoors in.
I might, just might, enjoy doing dishes in this sink.
I asked Allen if I could look in his freezer. He pulled out some of last years asparagus from the garden, love talking fresh food. Allen is always such a good sport, well, there was that one time he had to yell for me to hurry up across the whole farm. He still loves me even though I lolly gag.
The lights, superb. Allen films in this kitchen, so lighting is important, and of course, so elegant.
This is the Summer Kitchen.
Inside the Summer Kitchen This photo courtesy of P. Allen Smith (there was A LOT of cooking happening in there while I was there).
I have some Arkansas blog and social media goodness happening in my world. Seriously, I am so thankful that I get to be a part of something that puts Arkansas brands and bloggers together, my world’s have collided and awesomeness is happening.
First: I took over Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Taste Arkansas blog content earlier this year. I have amazing food bloggers through my company Arkansas Women Bloggers that provide amazing content and beautiful pictures. I am hoping for invitations to these foodies homes to try the deliciousness (y’all have my phone number gals). In addition, I added a Sunday Hospitality section because when I think of Taste Arkansas, it is more than food. It is about neighbors that gather around the table to share their lives, about how we surround ourselves with history and love as we decorate and fluff our homes. I also added a Kitchen Tip Tuesday because I know I am not the only one that needs to know how to sharpen my kitchen knives, juice lemons and limes more effectively, and how to grate ginger with a MICROPLANE (hello Arkansas company) instead of mincing it. Go check it out at Taste Arkansas.
Then: I was out doing a little last-minute shopping this past Christmas and got a call from a friend who told me about a potential opportunity for my Arkansas Women Bloggers to provide content for an exciting new site that will tell the unique story of Arkansas. First Security Bank, an only in Arkansas bank, loved the pitched idea by the wonderful guys at Eric, Rob and Isaac, and the site launched three weeks ago. ONLYINARK.COM has caught on like wildfire, people love it. It even caught the attention of PR Daily who interviewed the Eric Rob Isaac guys about the concept and implementation. I, and my Arkansas Women Bloggers, are providing content ten times per month!
Of Course: I am working hard on planning the 4th Annual Arkansas Women Bloggers University social media conference that will take place in Rogers, September 5-7. The amazing Alli Worthington, digital strategist, business coach, author, speaker, and my blog world friend, is our keynote. She is the founder of Blissfully Domestic online magazine, and the co-founder of Blissdom Conference. We will bring so many amazing Arkansas bloggers (and some bloggers from surrounding states) into one space to gather, grow, and connect.
I am ecstatic that Arkansas brands are understanding the value of social media and that Arkansas Women Bloggers is becoming the go-to place to find the best social media influencers and content in the state.
And, I am blessed to have such amazing women, brought into my life through the blog world, that inspire me, challenge me, and accept me for who I am every single day!
For Fun: I, along with about 20 other bloggers from around the US, will converge on Little Rock next week for P. Allen Smith’s annual Garden2Blog event. Allen and his Garden Home Partners gather with garden bloggers annually for two days of garden tours and workshops. My virtual garden world will become my real garden world next week.
Oh, and I can not wait to tell you about my GLAMPING weekend coming up! But, enough for now, I am tired thinking about all the amazingness.
The Park Wife
I get to hang out with television host, designer, gardening and lifestyle expert. P. Allen Smith often. He and his team are so much fun. Sometimes, I get roped into something I never thought I would do, like making a vlog. See, I would be a much better podcaster, does not require make-up nor me getting out of my yoga pants (The Park Wife fact: I do not do yoga).
I am going to Garden2Blog this month (#G2B14). For two days, I, along with 24 other bloggers from around the U.S.will tour area gardens and hang out at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home. In addition to the bloggers, team members from several of Allen’s Garden Home partner companies will be there. It’s a great way to get industry and media folks talking. I am so excited!
I was issued a Jobe’s #G2B14 Container Garden Throwdown. And, I made a vlog. Sweet mercy, I made a vlog. My cameraman is 11, the vlog director is 8, and I have a serious Mississippi accent that I am not ashamed of. So, take a peek, have a good laugh over your morning coffee (or Dr. Pepper for my Dr. P friends out there).
It can only get better from here and yes, I will share a blooper reel with you soon. You are welcome.
The Park Wife
I have an amazing farm table my husband built (yes, he is quite the carpenter) from some wood that came from an old barn he took down in Louisiana, his home state. It makes me smile every time I look at it and eat on it.
If you know me or have been to my house, I do not have many pieces in my home that do not tell a story. I like to fill my world with things that remind me of the people who have been in the chapters of our lives.
So, let’s talk about the dining room chairs.
These chairs were stored in an old barn of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller’s. They were getting rid of some things and offered them for a sale. I swooped in, bought them, and then painted them black. It fit in that time of my life, not because they were dark and it reflected my mood, but because I was in a decor time with a lot of neutrals.
After moving back to our “home park”, I have felt lighter, more cheery. I thought my house should reflect that. So, I started with the chairs. I have wonderful friends like Jerusalem Greer who loves color and uses it all over her home. She inspires me.
So, I bought some paint.
I brush painted two chairs before I said, “sweet mercy, where is the spray paint?” I bought a high quality spray paint and got to work.
And, here is what happened.
I am still working on decorating this room, I need curtains and some other things, but for now, when I walk through there, my heartbeat quickens and a huge smile lights up my eyes and face.
How about you? Have you used a lot of color in your home?
So much sunshine and blessings,
The Park Wife
It is a gorgeous day in Arkansas. The sun is shining, flowers and trees are in bloom.
I feel hope, happiness, and refreshed after a long, really long, cold winter.
Maybe not just the cold months, but even in my soul.
I have grown weary in doing good. At times, maybe even losing heart after dealing with many who were sucking the joy out of what is meant to be beautiful, encouraging.
Everyday in our new yard, I experience the budding of new flowers that were lovingly planted so many years ago, yet then neglected for over 10 years.
Yet, they are resilient, they keep growing, seeking the sun even when consumed with thorns. And, I pray that I will too.
Take the time this morning to listen, really listen to this spiritual lyrical adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” . Get through the first minute and a half of the back story and then you will be awestruck.
Aside of the amazing opportunity to live on a state park on a beautiful mountain, we also get to have some really cool neighbors. We are surrounded by a community of people who always stop what they are doing for anyone in need, band together on projects to make our mountain a better place to live, and share their wisdom, knowledge and expertise.
Many of our neighbors are retired and some had very interesting careers. We are extraordinarily blessed that our neighbor right up the road in an astronomer. Yes, an astronomer, with an observatory. He even has wide field astrographic telescope, which means it is super-duper awesome.
He is well-known in the science world with many books and papers published. Although retired, he is still an educator at heart and presents all around the world, and sends his data to Harvard. The Buckaroos just call him Dr. Clay, our nice neighbor that sits at the dinner table and answers a bazillion space questions and tells them no question is dumb.
So, when the blood moon lunar eclipse was going to happen, of course, he invited the boys to see what it was all about.
We woke up at 1:45 and walked up the road. I practiced my Mother of the Year acceptance speech the whole way.
The boys looked through one of his telescopes and then went into the Observatory.
Dr. Clay is always so patient and explains thing on a level for Little Buckaroo to understand, yet does not dumb it down. I believe this intrigues and motivates Little Buckaroo to read and study more so he can ask pertinent questions.
There was a lot of technical, cool things happening. Dr. Clay’s wife who is a dear friend of mine and I just sat and tried to warm up, seriously in the 30s in April. Winter, I told you I was DONE with you.
Dr. Clay moved this telescope (his super-duper one stayed focused on the moon turning red) so that Little Buckaroo could see Saturn, this was the highlight of his night. He loves Saturn and for him to see it so clear and “up close” was amazing.
And, here it is, the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years that turned the moon into a cosmic red ball. And, we had front row seats.
Thankful for kind neighbors, now I am going to take a nap,
The Park Wife