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
As I rang in the New Year, I, like many people reflected on the past year. It was a great one, filled with family, friends old and new, and happiness. Those of you who know me, know that I just love people ~ to hear their stories and walk away a bit more full of inspiration, kindness and at times, truth.
So, when I was asked by the Paul Michael Company to gather some of my bloggy gals (Arkansas Women Bloggers) for a Designed in the Delta event, I knew in my heart this was one that I needed to attend. I was needing a little piece of my soul filled like only the Delta can do.
My mom’s side of the family is all from Indianola, MS, deep in the Mississippi Delta, and I have always loved trips there because they were filled with good food, family, and love.
After a welcome reception at Paul’s newly renovated office on Main Street in Lake Village (that contains a brick oven, uh huh) we were welcomed to the Paul Michael Company’s Holiday Party. They are headquartered quite literally, in a cotton field in Lake Village, Ark. Seriously. Love.
We had a blast visiting with the locals, eating, and shopping. The store is amazing and is worth taking a drive just to go there. Can I hear “GIRLS TRIP”! They also have stores in West Monroe, LA, Lafayette, LA, and Canton, TX.
Here is the scoop: Paul has created something amazing. A business that he runs with his beautiful wife Debbie and children, continually strenghtening a family bond that is firmly rooted in looking around you and finding beauty in the most unlikely places and things. And sometimes, people.
An example of what Paul does: a whiskey barrell repurposed into a chair.
The next day we went to their woodshop in Dermott, AR where Paul’s son, Jake, showed us the lay of the land, where the beautiful pieces are made. There was some serious craftsmanship happening in there. At one point, Jake said “we are creating the antiques of the future”. Oh mercy, swoon.
Ashley, who is Visual Merchandiser and Product Development Gal at Paul Michael Company (and an all-around amazing woman) and the gorgeous DeltaMoxie popped a squat on one of the beautiful benches in the workshop. So angelic, so…
O.K., it got real up in there!
Doors. I love old doors. Paul, who is always on the lookout for treasures, went down to New Orleans and salvaged a bunch of doors after Katrina. When I see these, I think “who walked through these doors, what was their life like, and what will these door now become?”
Everything is 100% American made in Paul’s workshop and nearly all of the items are constructed of architectural salvage and reclaimed wood that Paul has been collecting for years. I saw the most beautiful tables made from some wood he reclaimed from an old Chicago bank they were tearing down.
And, their cutting boards are amazing. I mean really, a board that you can take the meat off the grill, carry it to the table, cut on and serve on. And, they have a trough around them so the juices do not run off. Genius.
Here I am with Paul’s son Jake and their beautiful, fun, and SMART daughter Elizabeth. Good people right there. Of course, I had to have mine monogrammed. If it is not nailed down, it has potential for monogramming in my world.
Paul and Debbie invited us to their hunting camp for dinner. They know how to show some true hospitality in Lake Village.
Paul and I hanging out by the fire pit. He is giving me tips on how to better cook deer steak. Big Buckaroo was thankful for this lesson. I just might have been overcooking it.
Yes, I have my phone in my hand because I was tweeting with Paul Michael’s dear friend Gerogia Pelligrini, the chef known as Girl Hunter. She and I are Bffs now. O.k. we will be after we meet back up at Paul’s in the Spring.
We were served delicious food, great conversation, and many laughs. I have a feeling that table has many stories it could tell. Again, full of history steeped in love.
And, not only am I blessed to be part of the Paul Michael family now (they said they would adopt me), I was able to spend the weekend with some amazing women that I met right here in the blog world. I love me some Arkansas Women Blogger gals.
I will post later about me getting crafty with wreaths (I rocked it, surprisingly), and some of the treasures I brought home from my trip.
The Paul Michael Company is a company I can believe in, a place where I know I will get quality craftsmanship made by good people right here in Arkansas. You need to go check out their online store, fabulous stuff people. Follow them on Facebook, Pinterest (oh so beautiful), Instagram and the Twitter.
You got some deep roots and strong branches there Paul Michael.
The Park Wife
I have enlisted The Buckaroo Boys to compile their first “Adventurous Boys Gift Guide” for 2013.
We live on a state park, have boys who are constantly seeking adventure, and yes, I have a lot of laundry. Their creativity throws me some days, I can not keep up. So, when the holidays come, I get overwhelmed trying to find the perfect gift that provides opportunities for our guys to be fierce and dangerous, to train them to be warriors that seek adventure, that will be fun, creative, and could possibly teach them something that might help them grow up to be all that they were created to be. Tall order there.
Now, our boys like their Ipad, but thanks to Duck Dynasty, all I have to do is ask if they are being yuppies and they do not ask for more than their allotted screen time for the day. But really, in our world, the Ipad can not compete with the active pursuit of adventure in the woods, or park.
I bet some of you boy moms go through the same thing. So, I hope this list helps.
Note: We have not been compensated for this, these are the Buckaroo Boys opinions.
1. Military Surplus Tent
The Buckaroo Boys love that these Military Surplus Tents were probably used by real soldiers! They have used them for camping, a fort, and even a place to take cover during a serious neighborhood airsoft battle. The tents are the real deal, so they are heavy canvas, which will hold up better than a lightweight tent that could blow away when the wind blows. Again, we live on a state park, we have seen this happen. Giggle, giggle, sorry, really it is not funny, giggle.
Lighting is important, seriously, it gets REAL dark where we live and I admit, I am afraid of running up on a bear, coyote, skunk, or well, Big Foot when I go out at night. The Buckaroo Boys always laugh because I walk out of the cabin door talking to the animals, letting them know I am coming outside so they can run away. Survival people. The Buckaroo Boys prefer a headlamp so they can keep their hands free to sword fight, wrestle a bear, or be ready to capture the elusive Big Foot in our woods. Makes perfect sense to me.
3. Backyard Zipline
The boys love their zipline. Add to any activity an element of danger, stir in a little exploration and speed, add a dash of destruction, and you’ve got yourself a winner. I am usually at the end on my knees, they think I am just waiting for them, but I am PRAYING sistahs!
4. Dangerous Book for Boys
Our guys LOVE the Dangerous Book for Boys. They can spend hours looking at it and finding projects to do. Warning: there is an obscene number of various kinds of paper airplanes and a lot of ropes tied in some amazingly cool knots littering their rooms.
I think every outdoor boy dreams of his first knife, it is part of becoming a responsible young man gifted from a father, grandfather, uncle, or other special man in their lives. The shiny red case with the Swiss flag will have boys yearning to carve sticks, shave tinder for a fire, or use the screwdriver to fix something around the house. Yes, rules must be implemented in the beginning so you do not have to use a whole bottle of liquid band-aid. Do not ask how I know this.
I have linked all of the above to JM Cremps- the boy’s adventure store. Many of the toys in our home are from this family run business out of Minnesota, I have a deep love for their company and mission. I get their newsletter and know that you can receive a $20 JM Cremp’s gift card with any $99+ purchase (Use promo code: GIFT20) valid now through November 25.
6. Daisy BB Gun
My little brother shot me with a BB Gun in the stomach when we were kids, yes, I am still working through the trauma. It comes up every time we are in Mississippi and the whole family is together. They laugh, I don’t.
When I went on a blogger junket a few months ago to the precious town of Roger, AR, we went to the Daisy Airgun Museum for a tour and saw their collection of antique airguns and learned the history of this wonderful company. The Buckaroo Boys took their first shots with Daisy BB Guns, as I am sure many little boys do. Littlest Buckaroo is loving the camouflage one of course, I bet it makes his wish list this year. Don’t let them shoot their eye out.
7. Duck Dynasty
The Buckaroo Boys love all things Duck Dynasty. They were fortunate enough to go to the warehouse in Monroe a few months ago since Big Buckaroo is originally from Louisiana and we have family and friends there. Little Buckaroo wrote a letter to them and gave it to the gal at the front counter, he is waiting for a response from Si. Of course, their merchandise is everywhere, but you can also visit their Duck Commander Store online.
8. Hydration System
The Buckaroo Boys like to be cool. No, really, they do not like to be hot, and I get tired of lugging water bottles on hiking trips. Being hydrated when hiking the trails is important. Survival expert Bear Grylls says you can only survive a matter of days without water, sweet mercy. Hydration packs are a ‘cool’ way you can get kids to carry their own water. And if they carry their own it gives them a bit more responsibility and independence and means less for you to lug. Can I get an AMEN mamas?
9. First Aid Kit
Our boys love being prepared and that means they always have an Adventure Medical Kit handy. Their kit contains supplies to treat cuts & scrapes, sprains, insect bites, headaches, muscle aches, and allergic reactions. We have to be prepared out on the trails of the park, or at the soccer field, or sitting on the front porch (seriously, you never know).
10. Magazine Subscription
These can make an excellent gift, providing regular injections of inspiration. Shhhh…the Buckaroo Boys are getting National Geographic Kidsfrom their Pops this year. The main magazine is a great education for older teens or there’s National Geographic Kids for younger ones (6-14) and even National Geographic Little Kids for tots (3-6). This will be a great addition to our geography curriculum. You can get 10 issues for $15, woohooo!
Added bonus wishlist idea from Littlest Buckaroo:
A Bucking Bull
From this ALL BOY mom to you, have fun, look for adventure, and pass that on to your boys this season.
WINNERS: According to Random Number Generator, the winners of the signed copies of The Pioneer Woman’s A Year of Holidays cookbook are:
Nicky C.:I am looking forward to spending time with my family . Now that my twins are in high school , they are studying and are very busy . I am ready for them to be home and cook and catch up. I want to try some new recipes and cook some of the great recipes I have been finding ! Pick me ~~~!!!
Susan F.: I am looking forward to hugging grandbabies, cooking with my family, and eating!
Congrats ladies, I will email you.
For the love of all things boy, don’t forget the camo face paint,
The Park Wife
Since my whining fest of September 2013about living in a SMALL cabin with boys for the past few months, the weather has cooled off and my favorite season has arrived, FALL! I feel energized and invigorated, I might even get crafty and do a little Fall decorating around this joint. Well, let’s not get to overcome with the crisp air and fall colors.
As evidenced in that post, I have been a little testy lately, not focusing on my blessings. I know this time has been a lesson in patience, and sistahs, I have been failing miserably. I keep reading on my friends blogs about their thankfulness journals. I am not good at keeping up with that kind of thing. It is a miracle that I have kept this blog going for seven years. Plus, I am not sure where I would put the journal, this cabin is SMALL people.
So instead of whining to that saint of a husband of mine, I went out for a walk at our park.
I know. Really? I am so blessed, what in the world have I been doing? There is beauty that surrounds me at every turn and I have CHOSEN to focus on that which is not lovely. Enough Park Wife!
I will embrace Fall, spend more time making good memories with our boys. It is flying by. I will fish with them, make bonfires, play football in the front yard, lay on blankets by the lake and read, carve pumpkins, and sew Halloween costumes. All while choosing thankfulness.
This is my neighborhood. I know, AMAZING. In a few weeks, God is going to change His beautiful canvas here to one full of orange (which is NOT on my color wheel), reds, golds, and browns. It will be even more glorious.
I will bake more, take more walks, jump in leaf piles with the boys, have something pumpkin (because there is a pumpkin everything these days) but most of all, I will do my best to savor the moments, capture the beauty in my heart.
What do you love about Fall?
Grabbing a sweater,
The Park Wife
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
I lost interest in MTV many moons ago. Baby spit up, diapers, building forts out of refrigerator boxes, educating the next generation, oh, I just got busy. Social media is a buzzin’ about the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana’s display at the VMAs the other night. No worries I am not going there.
So, in contrast, I found this. Oh, this.
It will restore your faith in the beauty of music and in everlasting love and commitment.
Did you hear about our recent move to a new state park (here). It has been touch and go for a few weeks, but I am still alive and kicking. The renovations will begin soon on our forever house. For now, I am trying to view it as a summer vacation in a cabin on a state park, seriously, pretty cool. – those rose-colored glasses are pretty sassy.
To be honest, there are some drawbacks, like 3 males and myself in a small space, a really small space. We have been spending an enormous amount of time outdoors, except at night, there is a juvenile male bear hanging out in our area. I hear he is very Yogi-ish, but really it.is.a.bear! During the day, the playground and pool are friends, pool people watching, AMAZING! The very small, outdated kitchen is a bit of a hinderance as I cook dinner every night. I am thinking of really hopping into this camping mentality and cooking out every night on the grill, but then I think…. there is a bear in the neighborhood.
I included a picture of the small cabin we are staying in until our forever house is renovated on that last post. I am not very crafty, my deep fear of stamping blocks and fancy scissors hold me back. I have cool, crafty friends that really have a knack for it like the extraordinary Jerusalmen Greer. I was hoping when she and her family came to my house for the weekend a while back (at our old park) some would rub off on me, you know crafty osmosis. Nope. Did not happen.
But, against my better judgement and crafty fear, I got to work trying to cute-ify the cabin. I do love a chalkboard, might have a few too many (according to hubby), so I decided to put one on the cabin porch during the 4th of July.
It is not fancy, but it made my heart happy when I was driving up. I love America, but I decided that maybe I should take the chalkboard down now that the holiday is over, yes, two weeks ago. Not too crafty or prompt. Oh yea, laid back summer in a cabin on the park, not going to stress. Except for Yogi of course.
THEN, I had a better idea: I would write different sayings on it while we are here to motivate, encourage, and yes, tickle my funny bone. Here is the latest.
If you read the last post, you understand this. No one (aside of Ronnie the UPS man who thinks I am hilarious, well alright, maybe a little “off”) is really noticing these. But, they make me laugh, so I will keep doing them while we live in this small, miniscule, meager, modest , unpretentious cabin.
An update: the attic tenants are relocating, it has been quiet for a few days. Thanks for your prayers.
Disclosure: The following post is about the 2013 Bean2Blog event, where P. Allen Smithand the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board invited bloggers (most ARWB members), fed us a deliscious lunch, gave us a cutie-patootie t-shirt and showed us a good ‘ole time that did involve heritage chicken gawking. All opinions are The Park Wife’s, owner of The Women Bloggers L.L.C.
As a former small farmer (I hope to be again one day soon), I love and appreciate the land and Arkansas’s farm heritage. However, as a small produce farmer that sold at farmer’s markets, I have not had a lot of contact with row or big crop farming. Did you know that about 98 percent of U.S. farms are family owned and operated? I love that.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend the day at P. Allen Smith’s Moss Mountain Farm courtesy of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board last week. I was able to spend the day with twenty of Arkansas’s awesome, passionate and best women bloggers. Oh, and Allen himself. It was pure joy!
After being caught in a tsunami, o.k. maybe not a tsunami, but, it was raining hard.
Hanging with Allen and my sweet friend Jerusalem Greer.
I learned so much about The Miracle Bean. Such as, Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in soybean production. If you do not understand the benefits of that, ask a farmer in a rural county about how their town survives. Also, soybeans are a great rotation crop that adds nitrogen back into the soil (for non ag kind of people, that is IMPORTANT). Plus, as I learned at lunch, it is delicious! Economy, land stewardship, delicious food….good stuff people.
I can’t wait to share more about my day hanging with my new friend Allen. I am hoping to move into Moss Mountain Farm soon, I am sure he will not mind.
Go check out this ebook, A Taste of Soy by my new friend Allen. It features an array of recipes with Arkansas’s Miracle Bean along with great design ideas, like a rustic tablescape.
Yes, I am going to share my love for and pictures of The Garden Home soon here on the blog!
If you ate today, go thank a farmer.
The Park Wife
Three years ago, I was working with the extraordinary Food Writer Kim Severson (now Atlanta Bureau Chief) of the New York Times on an article about watermelons. I know, sounds crazy, but those are the kind of things that I get myself into as the blogger gal, The Park Wife. Littlest Buckaroo’s picture was on the front of the food section with a 100 pound watermelon and she mentioned me in her article, I was over the moon.
Kim and I spent the day together and I showed her a great time in Southwest Arkansas, which is where we lived at the time. She told me she was also in Arkansas doing a story on P. Allen Smith. Yes, that was her main story, mine just added a little sweetness to the trip. She told me all about meeting Allen and his beautiful Moss Mountain Farm. I was enamored with her story and this man, who like myself takes an enormous amount of pride in his Southern roots and wants to help people to live better.
FINALLY, I get to meet Allen! Nineteen Arkansas bloggers, the majority Arkansas Women Bloggers members (woohoo), have been invited to the second annual Bean2Blog event May 21 at Moss Mountain Farm. Sponsored by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, we will attend soybean workshops where we will learn all about the Miracle Bean and tour every corner of the farm. I am super excited about meeting Allen, his chickens and seeing the beautiful sleeping porch and his kitchen in person. It will be a great day of fun with Allen, soybean farmers, and some pretty fabulous fellow bloggers.
So, guess what? You could join us for a day at the farm. Follow the directions below to enter and when you Facebook and Tweet to enter on the Soybean Promotion page, I would love for you to add the @ARWOMENBLOGGERS tag if you are an Arkansas blogger. They are just inviting Arkansas bloggers to this event, but if you are part of one of my other state groups, tag your state (@okwomenbloggers, @txwomenbloggers, @kswomwnbloggers) and get the word out to your Arkansas followers.
Best of luck, I hope to see you at the farm!
The Park Wife
A tornado ripped through a town that I love yesterday, my college town of Hattiesburg, MS. It is a town that holds so many precious memories for me. Two of my brothers, three nieces, a nephew, and many friends live there. Thankfully, everyone is accounted for and safe.
On the campus of my alma mater, The University of Southern Mississippi, landmarks such as the Alumni House and the Performing Arts Center are heavily damaged. The campus was not as full of students as it usually would be since the students were on a long weekend break for Mardi Gras (yes, we get out of school for Mardi Gras).
I pray for the people of Hattiesburg as they begin the process of putting their community back together. Please pray for those working long hours to clear debris, repair homes, and offer comfort in the midst of heartache.
I LOVE mail, you know, the real thing brought by the U.S. Postal Service. Mail makes me happy.
Now, that is not the only reason I signed up for the Secret Santa Ornament Exchange at Arkansas Women Bloggers, but it was a great perk.
Imagine my surprise and delight when the box came, I opened it and my Secret Santa was none other than Fawn at Instead of the Dishes. She is so crafty and eco-friendly, my ornament is my blog header, too cute. She did one for me with the Arkansas Women Bloggers header too! LOVE them.
Fawn and I go way back. Way back when she still lived in Arkansas (she ran away to Missouri) and before Arkansas Women Bloggers was what is today (yes, a powerhouse of 350 bloggers in our state). For those of you who do not know the story, I started Arkansas Women Bloggers after standing in line for four hours to get Ree, The Pioneer Woman, to sign her cookbook. I figured there must be some other bloggers in our state so I went home and started a blog to gather and connect the women bloggers of Arkansas. Months went by and I saw that I needed help, enter Fawn stage left. I had never met her in real life, we just read each others blogs. I was in Little Rock for a Farmers’ Market Conference, I dragged her out to dinner with me, then begged and coerced her into helping me. Sucker.
Arkansas Women Bloggers would not be what it is today without Fawn. Her organization, knowledge, hard work, and most of all, her friendship. She is the perfect example of how true, honest friendships are made in the blog world. We live completely different lives, but I count her as one of my truest friends.
Thank you sweet friend for the ornament and for being you.
The Park Wife