Growing a huge garden progressed to starting a farmers market which then turned into putting my love of writing and blogging together with the local food movement becoming the content provider/blog editor for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Taste Arkansas. Then there is the Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative that hired my Arkansas Women Bloggers company for content (blog coming soon), my work with the farmers of Riceland, oh, and hanging with my friends at P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm frequently promoting Arkansas agriculture.
Wow, from putting those first seeds in the ground, a lot has grown.
@TheParkWife selling at Old Washington Farmer’s Market which she founded with some amazing local farmers and friends.
My local food journey and promotion started back about six years ago, and through it all I have worked closely with and promoted the Arkansas Grown program. Today, I live on a state park where I do not have the ground space to grow for market, but I am at the farmers market at least once a week. I miss my garden, but love to support my farmer friends.
In addition to using my dollars to support local agriculture, I use my voice, my platform, my storytelling. I was the keynote speaker this year at Arkansas Women in Agriculture and frequently do social media trainings for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension.
Robin DeVore, marketing director at Riceland (and now my friend).
I urge you all to learn more about the Arkansas Grown program, look for their logo at the farmers market and at your grocery store.
Where I have been hanging out lately on the Internet (since I evidently have not been hanging here on The Park Wife).
I am thankful that Arkansas Farm Bureau has entrusted me to be the content provider/editor for their Taste Arkansas blog. I am able to bring along some of my Arkansas Women Bloggers where we get to talk food and Arkansas, two of my favorite things. Here is what you have missed from me if you have not been over there lately.
1. Cleaning your wood cutting board. I have a gorgeous cutting board, monogrammed of course, from my friends at Paul Michael Company of Lake Village. I displayed it for a long time for fear of ruining it, but now I use it and love it! Go read about how I clean it and admire its beauty on my wall.
2. How Southern are you? If you cook a mess of greens often, you get my “y’all” stamp of Southern-ness approval today. If you do not, go check out how to clean and cook up some Southern Collards on Taste Arkansas. Of course, there was bacon involved.
4. Not to be outdone by pie loveliness, I talked about making a cheese platter and also about local cheese artisan Kent of Kent Walker Artisan Cheese. He produces delicious cheeses using old-world, handmade methods from all Arkansas ingredients in downtown Little Rock.
I was blessed to meet Rhea Lana Riner a few months ago. She is the founder and owner of Rhea Lana’s Children’s Consignment Events. I love the spirit behind why her business started and how she runs it. Her business began as a ministry to young families, and in many ways, it still is. It Rhea Lana’s heart’s desire to add value to the lives of families by providing excellent quality merchandise at affordable prices. And it is also her desire to help women learn to gracefully wear those hats that we all wear – and to mature personally, professionally, spiritually and emotionally. So, when she called and wanted to hire me to get some bloggity awesome going on her blog with my The Women Blogger ladies, seriously, how could I say no? She and I are soul sistahs. Here is what I have done over there this month.
5. It is time to get the perfect outfit ready for Easter, I help give you a little inspiration with some fun fashion boards for kids. I know, the boy one does not have mud and tears in the knees, so it is not my real world, but one could only hope for them to look this good until after the Easter pictures are made.
8. Do you like to go to flea markets? I visited some along Hwy 65 in Arkansas and am sharing some shopping tips on OnlyinArk.com today. No, I really do not NEED another vintage lantern nor cast iron skillet, but I will go looking for them anyway.
Thanks for hanging with me in this online bloggy world, it is a beautiful thing.
The Park Wife
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……
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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
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.
****The winners of the Georgia Pellegrini books are Jeanetta and Teresa Stout. Please email me your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.****
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.
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.)
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.
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.
And, 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.
Here is some of Georgia’s liquid gold (stock) in the making.
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.
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.
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.
To enter, tell me your favorite rice recipe in the Comments section of this post.
One entry per person, please.
Winner will be selected at random and announced next FRIDAY evening.
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