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Hanging Out Around the Interwebs

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.
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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.

Cutting Board 1

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.

3. On  National Pi Day, π enthusiasts, well more like my friends that love pie, joined me on Taste Arkansas linking up their pie recipes. A post full of deliciousness, go get a recipe for your next pie.

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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.

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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.

Boys Easter Basket

6.  Easter Basket Ideas  – Do not be impressed with my creativeness. Really, I try.

arspAwwww….look at my sweet family, oh how the boys have grown.

7. Over on OnlyinArk.com, I listed 10 Spring Break Ideas. If you are coming to our park, let me know, I would love to see you!

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

I Embraced My Amazing in the Steakhouse Bathroom

Call Bruno, I finally had my moment, yes, I am amazing.

I watched Oprah for years.  I even read Ekart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” where I learned ways to break through the vanity and pride of the ego. I have heard many well-known social media superstars talk about drawing healthy boundaries. And, I know all the scriptures.

From the beginning, I knew I needed to be diligent and to protect my heart and mind from measuring my self-worth according to my number of followers or likes in this social media driven world.

I was blogging back in 2006 when I had to explain to people what a blog was. Have mercy, there are still times I do, but only once in a while. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and on and on, the pageantry of vanity is detrimental to truth, to the core of who I am.  So, I have guarded myself.

Every once in a while after I worked hard on something like a conference, had Harry Connick Jr posting my blog on his Facebook, Chelsea Clinton spending the day with my family, or being published on a cover of a magazine, I would get excited for a minute and then stop myself and squelch the celebration. Fear would take hold. Watch out for haughtiness, it is so unbecoming.

I would remind myself: Wait The Park Wife! remember, you can walk in Wal-Mart and not one person knows your social media power, they have no idea of how you have gathered a group of amazing women doing amazing things in this online world, or that the Junk Gypsy’s commented on your Instagram again today.

And, I accepted my self defeat talk.

See, I was trying to be so diligent in not celebrating my successes in fear of the ego becoming a problem, that I went to the other end of the spectrum and always felt it was never good enough. That I had to talk myself down off the social media high horse.

Until the day at the bathroom at the steakhouse in Hattiesburg, MS.

We had just finished an amazing Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference, I signed a big deal with a huge marketing company to provide social media infleuncers/talent to help on campaigns, the boys were rocking on their school, hubby and I were in one of our lovey dovey stages, dang, life was good.

We were headed to the beach for a week and had stopped in Hattiesburg to have lunch with two of my brothers who live there. We all hugged, then I went to wash up in the bathroom. And, that is when it happened. KAPOW! BAM! BRUNO!

Bruno Mars song You Are Amazing, Just the Way you are was on.  I listened a minute, and said heck yea man, I am freakin’ amazing. I have a husband I take great care of, I even starch his uniform shirts (not with a happy heart, but I do it), I am a great mother to two healthy, smart children who I get to homeschool and be an active part of their childhood, and then there is the group of amazing women in my life, many I have met through a blog community I founded and built. Oh wait, there are eight of those communities now.  And, yes it is AMAZING. All day long sistahs.

I returned to the table, looked at my husband and said ” I am amazing”.

He looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes that spoke truth right through them and said, “well yes you are honey”.  I finally got what he always tries to tell me.

It has always meant more to me that I am well thought of than well-known in this social media world. I am at heart an encourager of dreams and supporter of women. And, by golly, I think I am doing a pretty good job with that. From now on, I will celebrate it all. Rejoice in the amazing of who I am and the things He has used me to do.

For those of you struggling today about your self-worth, your weight, your inability to do it all, that you are not enough, or whatever it may be, take it from me (with a little help from Bruno), you are amazing just the way you are.

Let’s embrace it,
The Park Wife

 

My Name is The Park Wife, and I am a Foodie Blogger

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.

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Also, check out some of my kitchen tips, I am so fancy:
Seasoning Cast Iron
Simple Syrup is Really Simple
Fresh Corn Tips
How to shred Chicken in Your Kitchen Mixer

Enjoy!
The Park Wife

Glamour + Camping = Glamping, It Finally Happened.

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!

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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.

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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.

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The canoe came with the campsite thankfully, who had room for a canoe with all the decor and food packed in our vehicles.

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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.

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I am thankful that some of my bloggy friends are foodie bloggers. Yes, it makes it delicious and pretty.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Fawn @InsteadoftheDishes
Jerusalem @ Jerusalem Greer
Jeannetta @ The Splendid Things
Heather @ Heather’s Dish
Whitney @ Whitney Loibner Photography

 

 

Blogging at the Post Office

I love a small town.  All its quirks, camaraderie, the feel of belonging. I would live in Stars Hollow if the Gilmore Girls invited me.

I have had a glimpse of that nostalgic feeling in several towns where we have lived since most state parks in our state are not in the big city. Now, we live on a mountain that is 25 minutes from any town that has a grocery store, I have to actually be organized in planning my trips. It is really disappointing when you drive all that way and when you get home remember that you were out of milk.

Aside of the grocery store, the post office is usually on my “going to town” itinerary. There is always a line (I guess the internet is really not going to kill the USPS) and I learn so much about our new “town” while waiting to mail a package. For instance, yesterday I learned that Mr. Cole recently had surgery and if he would use his cane “he would not be slower than molasses and hold us all up. Doesn’t he know we have places to be, heaven’s to Betsy.” Also, Ms Nelda, who is “sweet as a peach, has that no good son, bless her heart, that ran off with that gal from the Wal-Mart and goodness gracious they came back to town to live with Ms. Nelda, are having a baby and expect Ms. Nelda to help. Ms. Nelda is quiet embarrassed and has not shown up for bridge for two weeks.”

A few months ago, I was mailing off some signed P. Allen Smith books to some friends and the Post Mistress (giggle, giggle, I know, I am so juvenile) raved about how much she loved him. She recapped the last three episodes of P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home and told me of how she is fixing up her new cottage with many of his ideas. Sweetness. Yes, I gifted her one of the books. We have now bonded.

Then, the other day when I was back  to mail some more packages, I had on my Arkansas Women Bloggers t-shirt. When I got to the window, my new friend the post mistress (giggle, giggle) read my shirt and got all excited.

She said one of the girls in the back was a blogger. Being new in town and always looking for gals to be a part of Arkansas Women Bloggers, I was game to meet her. She was giddy for me to meet her and kept saying she could not believe that I was a blogger and how many she had started to meet lately. I told her blogging has drastically increased in popularity over the past few years and that I have 510 part of my Arkansas group.

The worker one window over looked at her very seriously and said, “she is a Clogger, not a Blogger”.

Then she asked, “isn’t that the same thing?”

Sweet mercy, get me a fluffy skirt and taps shoes.  I am worried about the future of the USPS.
The Park Wife

Me & Ree at Wal-Mart -The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

I had a wonderful weekend in Rogers for Ree, The Pioneer Woman’s, book signing. I am sure all of you reading know who Ree is, how amazing her books are, and want to go visit her ranch. Hold up sistah’s, I get to go first. My friend Sheila from Eat2Gather and I are planning a meeting at the ranch. Ree does not know yet. I can tell you that Ree is just as amazing in real life as you imagine. We have met on several occasions and she is the real deal gals.

My friend Heather of Heather’s Dish, who is one of my Arkansas Women Blogger gals and an amazing food blogger, and I loaded up on Friday for a little trip north. We stayed at the incredible Embassy Suites, Rogers. We had stayed there before when we were on our Rogers Getaway and yet again, the staff and accommodations were beyond excellent.

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We planned an Arkansas Women Bloggers Meet-up on Friday night and about 25 bloggers showed up, we have good people in our tribe ladies. It is always so fun and refreshing to spend time with encouraging, kind  women in my blog world. When I first arrived,  I was told that Jovia of the Embassy Suites had done some special things for our Meet-up and lo’ and behold, that sweet lady made some of Ree’s appetizer  recipes from her new cookbook. Companies, take note, this is going above and beyond.

I wish I had more pictures of the evening with the blogger gals, but I was too busy stuffing my face with stuffed mushrooms and Prairie Sushi.

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Then, for the love of all things decadent,  they had chocolate covered strawberries delivered to our room. Not to mention that I asked for the closest place to get a Dr. Pepper and one magically appeared within 5.8 seconds and they said “Enjoy Park Wife”. Wow, seven years of blogging and look at the perks, they evidently knew my Dr. Pepper love language. To be fair, I saw them go above and beyond for all their customers, so no real blogger clout there.

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Then, it was time for lining up at the Wal-Marts. Wal-Mart had no idea how huge this was going to be, I could have told them. I hear they sold out at least three times and had to go to the other Wal-Marts in the area and get all they had. Benefit of living in the home of Wal-Mart.

I now know how Ladd’s (Marlboro Man) cattle feel. I wonder if their hooves hurt like my tootsies were starting at hour 3? There was no turning back.

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But, look at the perks. I met Max. Max smiled and giggled, then I tried to take his picture and he was like “good grief, these blogger ladies freak. me. out”. His sweet mama and I talked. She used to blog and then due to some pregnancy complications, stopped. She told me how much she loved to write. She emailed me yesterday and I am happy to report, she was so excited about meeting Ree that she went home and blogged. I get it honey, after Ree’s signing four years ago, I went home and started Arkansas Women Bloggers, now I have encouraging communities in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri. Whew, yes, she is inspiring.

We came around the corner and Ree exclaimed, alright, maybe she just said, “there are my girls!”

She was amazingly kind as usual, asked about my life, family, and blog community. I told her that I had expanded from Arkansas into 6 other states including  Oklahoma!

She is the real deal people.

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My friend Heather met her at a signing in Denver years ago, she said she froze up when she met her back then, so she redeemed herself at this signing and talked to Ree.

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Ladd was signing  my books and he said he knew who I was (really?),  that Ree has mentioned me to him before, then he thanked me for always being supportive of his wife. Mercy me.  Yes, all I have to say about that is mercy me.

Ree popped over and told him that I was The Park Wife, one of her oldest blog friends. Ladd smirked with a twinkle in his eye and said “Really?” like we had not just been talking about it.  It was picture time and I told him I needed to wait for some other gals because I don’t take pictures by myself with a man unless it is my husband (or my friend P. Allen Smith).

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Oh, look at the sweet Jenny on the far right. You have to go read about their adoption journey. They have the cutest twin boys, have been working on bringing their angel girl home from the Congo, and yes, she is now pregnant. She is handling it all with such grace and beauty. Pray for her gals.

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And, I finally met Kelly Stamps of Kelly’s Korner. Yes, we have the sweet Sophie, aka BooMama, as a mutual friend, have both been blogging for a while and live in the same state. Our paths just have never crossed until we were walking into the Wal-Mart to get in line at the same time. I am constantly amazed at how God works. After 4 1/2 hours in line, we have bonded.

I am so excited to start trying her recipes! The book is beautiful. Remember, she sent me some signed copies a while back and you can win one here!

Loved seeing my blog inspiration and friend at the Wal-marts,
The Park Wife

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays Giveaway {yep, she signed them}

Anyone that has ever hung out in my little place of the bloggy world at The Park Wife or any of my SEVEN (woooohoooo) state-focused blog communities, knows one of my all-time favorite bloggy gals in Ree, The Pioneer Woman.  Over the past seven years, she has been mentioned on my blog 863 times. Alright, maybe not that many, but close.  And, she is just as real, kind, and sincere in real life as she is on her blog and her Food Network Show.

Her first two cookbooks are used so much at my house that the binding of the first one has come loose, there is a mysterious sticky substance around the cinnamon rolls page (it can’t be icing because I would have licked it off), and there is a lot of flour in the cracks from the various yumminess that was happening with pizza dough, biscuits, and pie crusts. Let’s not even talk about the lasagna sauce on page 43. No idea how it got there.

I am drooling like Charlie yet again at her beautiful new cookbook called  The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations. It would be much easier and less dishes for me if she would just invite my family over for all the holidays, but the next best thing will be to try these recipes.  The holiday menus are amazing. The photographs are beautiful and I love how she has written a love letter to her children through the pictures and food she lovingly prepares for them.

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The Buckaroo’s love some Ree. They talk about her like she is a long lost aunt and want to hang with her boys at the ranch, or worse case, she would make them some of her marshmallow pops. Evidently, ours did not turn out as pretty as hers.

I have mentioned about her book signing in Rogers, AR this weekend and that on Friday night since some of us are traveling from around the state, we are having a big Arkansas Women Blogger meet-up. I look forward to spending time with my blog peeps. Then, on Saturday, all the bloggy gals will meet to stand in line together to get to see REE!!!!

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And here is even more great news –  Ree  is giving away 2 signed copies to my readers! Yeeeehaw!

GIVEAWAY:
2 winners will WIN one of Ree’s new book, A Year of Holidays.

COMMENT to say you want to be entered. Make sure your email is linked to your comment.
Hey, what are you most looking forward to this holiday season?

I would love for you to:
Follow The Park Wife on Pinterest
Follow The Park Wife on Facebook
Follow The Park Wife on Twitter
Follow The Park Wife on Instagram

Then head back to this post and leave a comment if you did so I will know!

Good luck! Contest ends Friday, 11/22/13, at  10 AM CT. I’ll announce the 2 winners over at THE PARK WIFE Facebook page!

Getting to Know The Park Wife for my Mississippi Women Bloggers

As many of you know I was born and bred in Mississippi (and PROUD of it). I also happen to have founded/own a pretty awesome company that has state-focused blog/social media communities and we have one in Mississippi.  My sweet friend Megan who runs Mississippi Women Bloggers is having a “Getting to Know You” Link-up, so I am hopping in on the Mississippi fun. I will answer all the questions in regards to Mississippi, not my adopted state of Arkansas.

1. What is your favorite thing to do in your hometown? Meridian is the home of a restored, rare Dentzel Carousel within an original Dentzel Carousel House. This gorgeous machine is located at Highland Park, a place where I use to love to attend Art in the Park, Jimmy Rogers Festival,  and we even had Meridian High School cheerleading practice there during the Summers. Great memories.

Also, growing up, I loved participating in dance recitals at the Temple Theater, it is still so majestic to me, just not as big as I thought at 6 years old when I Was Learning to Sparkle.

Photo courtesy of Grenville Tourism

2. What is the best vacation spot in Mississippi?

I love the Delta! A lot of my family is from Indianola, and I have so many fond childhood memories of that area. For a vacation,  I would love to go to the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood and learn a few tricks, oh my, I would blog that like crazy.  I would hope my friend Robin O’Bryant of Robin’s Chicks would come over  with me since she lives in the area. On my way back to Arkansas, I would definitely stop in Lake Village, AR and meet my new Paul Michael Co. friends (secretly hoping Girl Hunter/Chef Gerogia Pelligrini was there waiting to take me out to dinner). I would love to fill my new home with some of Paul Michael’s fabulousness!

3. Tell us about the most fun date night idea in Mississippi. I have many fond memories in Hattiesburg while at University of Southern Mississippi, they all prepared me to know what qualities to look for in a husband. Took me a while and a move to Memphis to find him.

4. What is one fun fact that very few people know about you? I have been blogging about 7 years, there is not much you guys do not know. Hmmmm… I played soccer during college at the University of Southern Mississippi.

tebow5. Who is your favorite sports team (if you have one) and how did it start? My favorite sports team is the New Orleans Saints. If you are a Saints fan from way back like my family, at least as far back as the 80s and you hung on to hopes that they win actually win one game,  you are die-hard. Those were some rough years, o.k. decades there.  Who Dat?

6. What are your top three “Best Eats” in Mississippi?

1- Weidmann’s in Meridian- My grandparents took me there often as a child. I loved the formality of it, the history, and the family that used owned it for 140 years. They had fabulous pictures that covered the walls from famous patrons to the regulars who walked through their doors. The Park Wife might have been in several.

2-Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville- no trip to the Delta is complete without Doe’s tamales.

3-For fond memories sake, Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg. That was my old stomping ground; I loved the food, the people, the atmosphere.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Living in our house on our new state park that is being renovated right now, raising two teenage boys, sweet mercy, start praying for me now, and continuing to date my hotty husband.

8. If you could choose an actress to play you in real life, who would you choose and why? Ashley Judd, my husband thinks she is pretty and I would like someone with a true Southern accent not a fake, overdone imitation of one to portray me, those drive me crazy.

9. What is a southern tradition you and your family have? (Note: Get your guest posts on “Traditions” ready for December!) I am a tradition junkie! One of our Christmas traditions,  is that our kids get three gifts from us, um….that is how many Jesus got and by golly it is HIS birthday we are celebrating. Although I grew up with Santa Claus and am not totally warped (debatable some days), we choose not to do that at our home. We focus on the reason for the season. Plus, with friends and grandparents getting them presents, they get a little over indulged. O.K., a lot over-indulged.

10. List 5 things on your Bucket List you hope to do before you die. Wow, here is a Bucket List I wrote on my blog 5 years ago (yes, I am an old woman in the blog world). All those still ring true, more have been added, but the top 5 are:
1. Grow old with Big Buckaroo, swinging on the porch of our cabin watching our grandkids play.
2. Raise our boys to be warrior’s for Christ.
3. Write more love letters to my husband.
4. Write our love story to be passed down to our grandchildren as an example of what true love and devotion is.
5. Laugh more

Because I Love Arkansas, Thanks Rogers For the Memories & a Giveaway

THE AMAZING PEOPLE WITH THE ROGERS, ARKANSAS CVB, WHO TRULY GET THAT BLOGGERS ARE THE PERFECT MEGAPHONE FOR TOURISM IN ARKANSAS, PAID FOR MY ENTIRE TRIP; HOWEVER, ALL OPINIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ARE MY OWN!

I love to travel, and you know, I love Arkansas, so there is nothing better than exploring our state. Let me take you back to my trip to Rogers, Arkansas recently. We stayed at the gorgeous and comfortable Embassy Suites, we shopped, hung out at a cool art gallery and also with the Mayor, went to War EagleMill, did I mention we shopped?

We have two boys, that are ALL boy, so imagine my excitement as we headed to the Daisy Airgun Museum.  The museum is in the sweet brick-paved historic  sector of downtown Rogers in a building which, itself, dates to 1896.   Gun and history enthusiasts, little boys with their dads,people who have a story of their first Daisy BB Gun,  and cool blogger chics from Arkansas come to see the collection of antique airguns dating to the 1600s.

Daisy Museaum

We will be taking our boys to the Daisy Airgun Museum soon, not sure if it will be before or after the Cabela’s shopping trip.

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Then, off to the lake! We went for sailboat ride on Beaver Lake. It was absolutely beautiful and so relaxing.  We arrived at Prairie Creek Marina,  boarded a sailboat with Jensen Boat Works.  Seriously, Kerry and Bobbie Jensen who own the boat, live right on Beaver Lake and are the sweetest, most hospitable couple ever. They made us all feel at home immediately, their mission was to help us enjoy the beauty of the lake. We did that for sure. They schedule charters, look them up if you want to tour and enjoy the lake, great idea for a girls getaway weekend!

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To top off our weekend, I headed downstairs of the Embassy Suites with no make up on to the spa.

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We all sat around sipping fruity water with some great mood lighting in the most comfortable robe I have ever experienced. And, I have met a lot of  fluffy robes people.  My Massage Therapist Linda was extraordinary.  Being a former athlete, I have had a number of massages, but sistahs, this was the best one I EVER had. That gal knows what she is doing. In case you are trying to decide, I had the Agave Nectar Cactus Toning Wrap with a 30 minute massage. AMAZING!

 

Strawberry Bushel Basket 2

To top it off, they gave me one of their charming gift baskets with Strawberry Smash Double Moisturizer and their customer-favorite Sweet Cream Fine Grain Body Scrub to give away to one of my readers. It is in a wooden FarmHouse Fresh Bushel Basket. Preciousness!

To be entered, just leave a comment on this post. If you’d like a second entry, just go follow VisitRogers, AR on Twitter and then come back here and leave an additional comment (you can just say “Rogers Twitter” or something like that in your second entry).

I’ll close comments on this post Friday night, and I’ll select a winner using random.org because I am fancy like that.

Don’t Shoot Your Eye Out,
The Park Wife

 

Coming Down Off Blog Conference High

The #AWBU 2013  conference last weekend was AMAZING. I could go into spitting out a number of adjectives to describe it, which I have been known to do, but I will spare you. I have found myself trying to explain the Arkansas Women Bloggers group and our conference to people, a lot of times to brands, and in the end, I do not think that I can accurately convey this place in the internet world we have created and transitioned into real life friendships through #AWBU. But, you know I will try.

It is a place where women genuinely want to connect with, lift up and encourage other women, where even though it might be intimidating to walk into a room where you might not know anyone, ladies walk in with open, welcoming hearts and reach beyond themselves to connect. Where bloggers with huge followings sit beside and take new bloggers under their wings. Oh mercy, I have a tear just thinking about it.  I have heard there are some that do not get it, so sad for them.

I have always been careful to align ourselves with sponsors whose companies reflect our mission and values, and wow, we hit the awesome company jackpot this year. From Scott who spoke on behalf of CCF Brands, to Mark & Amber Bray of Airship Coffee. Oh Arkansas Farm Bureau, you are the voice for agriculture who understands the power of our voice ~Swoon. Petit Jean Meats, who has been there from the beginning of gathering these ladies and brought in the incredible Boomama as our keynote, bless your sweet little family owned companies heart, and the bacon was delicious, of course. Yarnell’s, yet another company that understands southerners with their Lemon Icebox Pie ice cream and their social media savvyness. Rogers, AR CVB, thank you for documenting it all through a wonderful photographer.  There were so many more who provided product, scholarships, and their support. We thank you.ferncliff

And Ferncliff Camp & Conference Center ~ David, Joel, Kathi, Chef John, and all of your wonderful staff, you went over and beyond for us. We will pay your kindness forward into the world.

There are so many people who stepped up and helped to make it happen without even being asked, so many who have given so freely of their time and efforts. I am afraid to start listing because I know I will leave people out, but I must tell Debbie Arnold, your heart for women, attention to detail, and your hugs telling me everything will be fine, got me through the weekend with a smile on my face and a happy heart. Your stamina for getting it all done amazes me and your golf cart driving skills scare me.

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My deer, I mean, dear friend Fawn (I know, I crack myself up sometimes), who drives back here each year now that she moved to Missouri to be my “whatever you need gal”,  Julie and Gina K., thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Taylor from Texas Women Bloggers with your cute pink heels, you were up for any task no matter how big or small. I will be there for you at your Texas conference to do ANYTHING you need. Heather and Mari from Oklahoma Women Bloggers, I heart you guys big time.

And to my new friend Mimi San Pedro, thank you for understanding that we ROCK, and doing what needed to get done to get the extraordinary P. Allen Smith as our Conference Kick-Off speaker. He did an amazing job, as usual, and his warmness, kindness and love for Arkansas was the perfect way to begin the weekend.

There are many other women who articulated their experiences beautifully on their blogs, hop here and read some recaps.

Thank you to all the ladies who attended. And, Texas and Oklahoma get ready, we are sharing the awesome at a conference in your state soon!

More pictures to come!

Bloggity Love Spills Out,
The Park Wife