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.
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.
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.
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.
Drinking from the hose while playing outside all day in the pasture, in the barns, and in the park.
My 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
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.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” -Psalm 34:8
The Park Wife
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.
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).
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.
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 spent a lot of time along Mardi Gras parade routes in New Orleans screaming that famous saying “Throw me something, mista!” For those of you who do not know, that slogan for the season pretty much means “hey y’all on that big parade float, throw me some cool beads and doubloons, and hey I could use a Moon Pie too!” Since I no longer live close enough to travel down every Mardi Gras, I am known to “throw” a Mardi Gras themed gathering here in Arkansas.
While many view Mardi Gras as a raucous celebration, which I can not deny happening the French Quarter where it is mostly tourists during Carnival, I equate Carnival as a time to celebrate good food, music, fun, taking pride in the past and the hope for the future.
So, here is The Park Wife’s Guide to Planning your Mardi Gras Celebration when you can not get to New Orleans:
When: Carnival is a season; Mardi Gras is a day. The carnival season runs from January 6 (Epiphany, King’s Day, or Twelfth Night) to midnight of Ash Wednesday, although the parties get bigger and more lively the closer you get to Mardi Gras proper. But remember, once Ash Wednesday comes, Lent begins, and hosting a Mardi Gras party would be inappropriate.
Food: Gumbo is one of the most traditional of all Mardi Gras foods. Gumbo is easy to make and serves a lot of people, which is why it is my Mardi Gras celebration favorite. Other foods I often serve are jambalaya, red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee (thanks to my New Orleans native college roommate who is bringing me some tails from New Orleans next week), and beignets for dessert, yes, powdered sugar will be everywhere! While traditional New Orleans food (and most food we serve in our home on a daily basis) is spicy, it is better to keep the flavoring mild and offer a variety of hot sauces for those who want to add a kick to their meal. Never made a roux? Check out my post on Taste Arkansas and get going on your first roux, you can not have a good gumbo without a good roux.
Music: No, and I mean NO, Mardi Gras party is complete without music! Boogie down with the sounds of the Carnival Season and mix in some funky jazz and your own favorites for a complete playlist.
Decor: I love to decorate for Mardi Gras, thankfully, I have cool friends that can help me get my house into the Mardi Gras spirit. Check out Paul Michael Company’s Mardi Gras section, then watch their Simple Mardi Gras Wreath How-to video filmed in their Lafayette store.
Beads, beads, and more beads: Purple signifies justice, gold signifies power and green signifies faith.Beads are a must, and luckily most party supply stores carry them. They’re also super easy to decorate with, so hang them anywhere and everywhere! As your friends arrive, give each a strand or two to wear around their neck to get them into the spirit.
Costumes: They don’t have to be elaborate, Halloween-style costumes; instead, party guests should be encouraged to wear things like crazy hats, feather boas or anything brightly colored, especially in purple, green or gold. Masks are my Mardi Gras favorite. Sometimes the boys and I make some to supplement our supply, those always become guests favorites.
Last, but not least, no Mardi Gras party is complete without a King Cake.
As part of our Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, called “A King’s Cake.”
Inside every cake is a tiny baby and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.
Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s King Cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. If you can’t cook, you can buy them online.
We can’t all go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (or other towns that have parades), but, don’t just sit back and wish you could be dancing with your umbrella in a street parade.
Make your own parade. ( I think we should apply this to all parts of our life)
The previous Superintendent of our park, who is a dear family friend of ours, left an old family headboard at our house when he retired that was a total mess. He told hubby just to toss it in a fire, one less thing to move.
Well, you know how I love to have pieces in our home that tell a story……
So, hubby and I got busy repurposing the old headboard into a bench for inside our mudroom.
There was a lot of old varnish and gunk on the boards so the first thing we did was seperate all the boards, clean them good with some Murphy Soap, and did a light sanding. Then, we cleaned them again.
See all the gunk. UGH!
Big Buckaroo had to utilize a lot of his carpentry skills that he learned from his dad, a carpenter, growing up. And, I love that he is passing that on to our boys. Oh, that man is so precise in his measurements, yes, I told him to glue the thing already, several times.
. The boards that were used to hold the box spring were used for the seat. I love the look of it. It makes me happy.
You can see the marks on the seat where the springs from old box springs indented on the wood. I am seriously in love with this piece and it makes me happy every time I walk in the door and see it. Of course, there are footballs, cleats, cowboys boots and who knows what else lined up under it already.
What projects are you working on in your home?
The Park Wife
It is not a showplace, there are not many pictures that will show up on Pinterest of my clever, imaginative decor.
However, I spent years trying for it to be. I wanted it to look how everyone else’s did. I tried to replicate their cute houses in the subdivision even though I lived in a state park.
Then, I turned 40 and stopped caring what everyone else thought and started filling my home with things that made me smile. Pieces of furniture that had a story to tell. Pictures that meant something to our family rather than what I saw in Southern Living.
The one thing I never let go of was using an old door as a headboard. Now fondly known as “The 2 year project”.
See, I did not want to run out to some flea market, grab a door and hang it on the wall. So, I waited.
Then, the perfect door came into my life.
At the park where we spent seven years, we made some great friends. They became our family. One day, Big Buckaroo and “Uncle Bob” had taken the boys to one of Bob’s barns to find his old “soldier die-cast kit”. I walked around the barn and saw it…THE door.
He immediately gave it to me. Of course, that is what family does.
I got to work on it.
O.K. full disclosure, I have worked on it off and on for 2 years. We have moved twice and oh that day job of homeschooling our kids hindered the paint stripping. For future reference, I do not like to strip paint. But, I also do not want to die from lead poisoning.
Hubby and I finally got it stripped, then sanded and polyurethaned a few times. Oh, did I mention that my husband is an amazing woodworker and will not let me do anything half way (which is really how I roll with this kind of project).
Big Buckaroo hung the headboard last night. Swoon!
I now need new bedding and I have a few other project ideas to complete to make it how I see it in MY head.
But, right now, I walk into my room and smile. It makes me happy.
The Park Wife