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Arkansas Grown Love

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.

The Park wife farmers market arkansas@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.

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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.

Riceland Arkansas social media

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.

Arkansas-Women-Bloggers-and-P.-Allen-SmithAnd then, tell your friends!

Eat fresh, buy local,
The Park Wife

 

Happy Pi Day, We Are Celebrating with Lea’s Lunchroom Homemade Pie

Pie is love.

Not Pi 3.14 which we celebrate today, our 5th grader is working with Pi in his math right now, and sweet mercy, we both would rather be eating pie.

Growing up, there was always a pie at my grandmother’s house. Ira, who was like a second grandma to me, could make the most beautiful marainge that was even fluffier than my 80s bangs. When Ira made her pies, she always threw in a little of her magic love potion. That potion cured all that ailed you, from broken hearts to lost soccer games, sitting with the family eating a piece of Ira’s pie just made the world a better place.

While I am not an expert on love (nor math), what I do know is that giving love and getting love is the best feeling in the world. So, when our family (shout out to Aunt Jo and Uncle Tommy) from south Louisiana arrived last night and brought us pie from Lea’s Lunchroom in Lecompte, LA, that my friends was a pure, unadulterated delivery device for love.

Lea’s Lunchroom’s was established in 1928 and their coconut cream pie and apple pie, oh and their chocolate pie, you get the picture is the most perfect thing in the world…well, alright, except our babies and puppies and Dr. Pepper and Jesus’s love, of course, He is LOVE and we love him the most. But, the coconut cream pie, wow!

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Seriously, that is beautiful. Food art.

Lea’s homemade pies are listed in the Louisiana Hall of Fame and were selected as a favorite by Louisiana Life magazine readers. In March 2001, the Louisiana Legislature proclaimed Lecompte the Pie Capitol of Louisiana, and every governor since John M. Parker has eaten a meal at this restaurant. When your pies get you on the Johnny Carson show, you know they are good. It’s also reported that the renowned outlaws Bonnie and Clyde had a meal at the original location in the early 1930’s. Kapow!

Stopping at Lea’s has become a  tradition for families and a destination attraction for generations of customers.

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Throughout the years, numerous reporters and newsmen (even Johnny Carson from The Tonight Show in 1989) questioned Lea about the secret of his success. Lea would laugh, smile and then credit his love for people.

“I love people,” said Lea Johnson. “If you love people, you’re going to give them the best.” That  is the magic potion Ira always baked in her pies and even though she is gone now, every time I get a taste of a delicious pie, I stop and remember how much she loved me. So, yes friends, pie is love.

If you are ever headed up Louisiana Route 13, tune into KVPI for  some Cajun music with their Cajun French speaking DJ, stop by Lea’s for a piece of pie and feel the love of Louisianans and the way that they show it through their food.

Share the Lagniappe,
The Park Wife

 

The Paul Michael Company ~ It’s all about creativity, family and tradition


Paul Michael camp chandaleirAs 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.

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So, I met up with the other Arkansas Women Bloggers at Lake Chicot State Park to this view. I had never stayed at Lake Chicot (I know, bad Park Wife), and it was wonderful. I will be back to that park!

Soul filling began.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

Paul Michael Church Pew

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…

Paul Michael co. Church Pew praise

O.K., it got real up in there!

New Orleans doors

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.

Personalized Cutting Board

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.

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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.

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(borrowed photo from my friend Jacqueline at Creative Outpour)

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.

Paul Michael Co. Duck Camp

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

Arkansas Frontier Pumpkin Patch – A Living History Farm

I love Arkansas and love Farmer’s Markets, so when asked to speak a couple of years ago at the Arkansas Agritourism Conference on using social media to promote your farm/business, I jumped at the opportunity. There are so many fabulous farm families and groups providing destination experiences while educating on the importance of agriculture to our state, the food supply and our culture. It was there that I met some folks from Arkansas Frontier.

I LOVE this place!

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

I loaded up the boys and my friend Maize for the drive to Quitman, Arkansas last weekend to visit this teaching facility where they interpret farm living and how early settlers lived in the American Frontier.

It was so much more than just a pumpkin patch!

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

Our first stop was with this very well-versed lady who has made it her life’s work to study Native-American lifestyle and teach about the impact that Native-American culture has had on our society today.

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We then made our way to the Frontier Company’s mining sluice in the hopes of discovering some beautiful stones. I was looking for a honker of an emerald, but came home with some fool’s gold. Just my luck.

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

Our adventurous boys were very excited to see that there was an Enchanted Forest. They were greeted with some of the characters that have entertained them through the years such as, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the The Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel, etc. This is also where the wild things are – deer, squirrels, raccoons, birds, turtles, frogs, etc.

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

And, there are pumpkins! Precious pumpkins. You can not decorate for Fall without a cute pumpkin. We came home with three!

The boys ran around, slid down huge slides, and went to check on the bear they saw when coming in.

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

I told them: “Do not feed the bears.” No, really….

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

Mom’s are always right.

Arkansas Frontier- Quitman, AR

There are also many photography opportunities. We grabbed our pumpkins, took a picture and then headed out.

Little Buckaroo is obsessed with American Pickers. As we were leaving town, we saw the cutest store and had to stop. It is called The Vintage Rose and they have some really great things!

The Vintage Rose, Quitman, AR

Their Holiday Open House is this weekend, so take the family to the Arkansas Frontier Pumpkin Patch and then stop by The Vintage Rose to kick off your holiday shopping.

The Vintage Rose, Quitman, AR

For more information on Arkansas Frontier, hop over to their website. I love groups who are dedicated to educating people about Arkansas and agriculture.

Tell them The Park Wife sent you!