I have an amazing farm table my husband built (yes, he is quite the carpenter) from some wood that came from an old barn he took down in Louisiana, his home state. It makes me smile every time I look at it and eat on it.

If you know me or have been to my house, I do not have many pieces in my home that do not tell a story. I like to fill my world with things that remind me of the people who have been in the chapters of our lives.

So, let’s talk about the dining room chairs.

These chairs were stored in an old barn of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller’s. They were getting rid of some things and offered them for a sale. I swooped in, bought them, and then painted them black. It fit in that time of my life, not because they were dark and it reflected my mood, but because I was in a decor time with a lot of neutrals.

Black Dining Room Chairs

After moving back to our “home park”,  I have felt lighter, more cheery.  I thought my house should reflect that. So, I started with the chairs.  I have wonderful friends like Jerusalem Greer who loves color and uses it all over her home. She inspires me.

So, I bought some paint.

I brush painted two chairs before I said, “sweet mercy, where is the spray paint?” I bought a high quality spray paint and got to work.

And, here is what happened.

 

colorful-chairs

 Cheerful indeed.

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I am still working on decorating this room, I need curtains and some other things, but for now, when I walk through there, my heartbeat quickens and a huge smile lights up my eyes and face.

How about you? Have you used a lot of color in your home?

So much sunshine and blessings,
The Park Wife

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Hallelujah

by The Park Wife on April 18, 2014

It is a gorgeous day in Arkansas. The sun is shining,  flowers and trees are in bloom.

I feel hope, happiness, and refreshed after a long, really long, cold winter.

Maybe not just the cold months, but even in my soul.

I have grown weary in doing good.  At times, maybe even losing heart after dealing with many who were sucking the joy out of what is meant to be beautiful, encouraging.

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Everyday in our new yard, I experience the budding of new flowers that were lovingly planted so many years ago, yet then neglected for over 10 years.

Yet, they are resilient, they keep growing, seeking the sun even when consumed with thorns. And, I pray that I will too.

Take the time this morning to listen, really listen to this spiritual lyrical adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” . Get through the first minute and a half of the back story and then you will be awestruck.

So powerful, I wept.

He is risen indeed!
The Park Wife

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Blood Moon Up Close!

by The Park Wife on April 15, 2014

Aside of the amazing opportunity to live on a state park on a beautiful mountain, we also get to have some really cool neighbors. We are surrounded by a community of people who always stop what they are doing for anyone in need, band together on projects to make our mountain a better place to live, and share their wisdom, knowledge and expertise.

Many of our neighbors are retired and some had very interesting careers. We are extraordinarily blessed that our neighbor right up the road in an astronomer. Yes, an astronomer, with an observatory. He even has wide field astrographic telescope, which means it is super-duper awesome.

He is well-known in the science world with many books and papers published. Although retired, he is still an educator at heart and presents all around the world, and sends his data to Harvard. The Buckaroos just call him Dr. Clay, our nice neighbor that sits at the dinner table and answers a bazillion space questions and tells them no question is dumb.

So, when the blood moon lunar eclipse was going to happen, of course, he invited the boys to see what it was all about.

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We woke up at 1:45 and walked up the road. I practiced my Mother of the Year acceptance speech the whole way.

The boys looked through one of his telescopes and then went into the Observatory.

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Dr. Clay is always so patient and explains thing on a level for Little Buckaroo to understand, yet does not dumb it down. I believe this intrigues  and motivates Little Buckaroo to read and study more so he can ask pertinent questions.

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There was a lot of technical, cool things happening. Dr. Clay’s wife who is a dear friend of mine and I just sat and tried to warm up, seriously in the 30s in April. Winter, I told you I was DONE with you.

space4Dr. Clay moved this telescope (his super-duper one stayed focused on the moon turning red) so that Little Buckaroo could see Saturn, this was the highlight of his night. He loves Saturn and for him to see it so clear and “up close” was amazing.

And, here it is, the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years that turned the moon into a cosmic red ball. And, we had front row seats.

spaceThankful for kind neighbors, now I am going to take a nap,
The Park Wife

 

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I have this friend. I met her through blogging. She is in my real world now. She comes to my home on the mountain to visit, sometimes she brings her cool little family.

She has enriched my life with her kindness, creativity, and authenticity. I adore her. Plus, she has a cool name, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem wrote an amazing book, A Homemade Year.  Here is what some fancy publishing kind of folks say: “This gorgeously-designed book is a guide to celebrating the rhythm of life’s calendar of events, as well as the Christian liturgical year, focusing on God’s love in our lives. Greer weaves her own faith story with original recipes, crafts and entertaining ideas, creating a vibrant, personal narrative that is a modern take on timeless traditions.- Paraclete Press”

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Here is what I say, it is amazing. The first time I picked it up, I was brought into a world of pretty (I love pretty) and was intrigued by the intentional creativity she lives out in her life.  I remember calling Jerusalem a few months ago, long after the book had come out and I had been reading it, really reading and thinking on the words she wrote.

I was in tears. It is so much more than a pretty book.

So, for her book’s first birthday, this is my message to Jerusalem: “Sweet friend, your book speaks of who you truly are. It is not contrived or for show, it is a true reflection of your heart and your unabashed love for the celebration of all things, big and small,  and of all people. I am blessed to be one of the recipients of what you put out into the world, and for that, thank you and HAPPY HOMEMADE YEAR BIRTHDAY”.

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Your friend that is afraid of craft scissors and uses a honey bun from a box for your cake, but you love me anyway,
The Park Wife

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Y’all know I love me some Andy Griffith Show, the show that portrays a time where simplicity, kindness, and love for your neighbor was paramount.

We were watching a bit of an Andy Griffith marathon at our home the other day with some of our family members that stayed a few days extra after our family reunion. We have the whole series on DVD, but we watched one that I had not seen before, or the poignancy of it did not hit me at a time in my life that I needed to hear it. It knocked me over this time.classReunion250

Andy and Barney were attending their high school reunion. Andy’s high school sweetheart walks in and…lights dim… everyone turns to watch them… they meet on the dance floor…. and sparks fly (where was Helen?). Later, they go for a walk and start talking about old times. Andy is all giddy about rekindling their romance. He then starts to wonder aloud what happened to them all those years ago and asked if maybe she could stay in Mayberry a while. She says she couldn’t, she had to get back to Chicago, she needed a place where she could expand and grow.

I was with her, I thought I was at least, I understood her reasoning, then she said there was no way she could live up to her potential in Mayberry, that life in Chicago was so different.  And, then Andy, oh Andy, says ~ well life is not that different there, it’s about being happy, that’s the main thing, isn’t that what everyone is shooting for? Isn’t that the prize of the game, to be happy?

That hit me hard.  I find myself striving, looking for that next project, that next thing to conquer when in reality, I am missing out on spending time enjoying the prizes I have already been given.

Then, I saw this. It is worth the time to watch it. The dad tried to impart to his son that being rich is not about how much you have, but about how much you can give. Oh, amen, amen.

Go grab a Kleenex,
The Park Wife

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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

 

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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.

Mardi Gras CD

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.

Oh my, for all my new Harry Connick Jr. followers (thanks again Harry for linking my blog on your Facebook page, swoon), watch Harry sing, dance, and play Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Seriously….amazing musician and performer…..

Harry+Connick+Jr+Mariska+Hargitay+Harry+Connick+oCEaRKjIjiFland New Orleans boy.

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.

maskCostumes: 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.”

kingcakeInside 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)

Now, go gather your Krewe and….

Laissez les bon temps rouler!
The Park Wife

Flashback article about teaching my kids about Mardi Gras years ago.

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Thank you Harry Connick Jr. for posting this blog post on your Facebook page and WELCOME to all of Harry and American Idol’s fans who have flocked to The Park Wife to read this.

American Idol hiring Harry Connick Jr. was the best decision they ever made.  I have seen the headlines, read a few of the stories, and yes, Harry is saving the day.
Best. Move. Ever. I am loving some AI!HCJ#1

We do not do a whole lot of prime time t.v. around here, so much of what is on now in the evening is completely inappropriate for our little guys ears.  I watched a bit of AI back in the first years , but never got to the point that I had to watch it or DVR it, if there had been DVR back then. I am old school, I would have been rocking the VCR.

But, when I heard Harry would be on, I had to give it a chance. And, oh Harry, you have swooped in and saved the day. As a gal who went to college an hour and a half from New Orleans, I was blessed to attend several of his concerts. If you ever attend a concert of his, he will not only tickle the ivories, but he plays the drums, saxophone, organ, trombone, and pretty much anything else that makes music. And, he dances….AHHHHMAZING!

He’s not just funny and charming, but he really knows what he’s talking about. The man knows music, oh my, when he talks pervasiveness of the pentatonic scale and how some singers rely too heavily on those five notes, I gloss over a  little like JLo (well, except that she is GORGEOUS, really how can someone be that pretty?). Our little fiddler buckaroo had  to explain to me what he is talking about.

Harry refuses to just pat the children on the back and tell them they were awesome when they could have done better. In one episode he uttered this little gem – “I like the concept of ‘Diamond in the rough,” he told a singer, “but I think there was a little too much rough.” No participant trophies happening at Harry’s house.

And, thank you for telling the teeny bopper that the seductive lyric song was completely inappropriate for her to sing. Sweet mercy! Oh, and some of those 15 year-old girls do NOT look like I did when I was 15.

Then, there are the AI tears, mine. Big Buckaroo walked through the room last night and asked if I was alright because I had tears running down my face. Seriously, I love how AI has focused on the good and told the stories in such an encouraging light. Kumbaya people. The mamas and papas, uh-huh, when those kiddos run out with those golden tickets and their parents are there to hug them and celebrate, waterworks people.

I am so thankful they are not putting the dumb tryouts up there. They are not focusing on the really bad auditions, nor going out of their way to mock people the show feels are too stupid, too fat, or too cray-cray to consider their feelings. Well, there was the one when the guy came in with shorts, suspenders and no shirt. Believe me, it was not a good look. If you are not 2 years-old with plaid overalls without a shirt or a fireman posing for a calendar, do not attempt this fashion statement. Mamas, please teach your boys this. I do love (yes, another Harry swoon) how Harry told him that he disrespected the process and to leave.

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What do I love most about Harry Connick Jr.?   He cherishes his wife (yes, she was a Victoria’s Secret model) and three daughters. And that, my friends, is way more important than being a judge on American Idol.

I will be watching AI this season. Are you?
The Park Wife

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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.

Headboard Turned BenchThere 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.

hb2

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.
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hb1The boards that were used to hold the box spring were used for the seat. I love the look of it. It makes me happy.

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You can see the marks on the seat where the springs from old box springs indented on the wood.  hb3I 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

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In my previous post Faith, Family, Football and Home ~ House Design and “The Book of Manning, I talk about football’s first family and the amazing documentary The Book of Manning.  Now, following the greatest statistical regular season at the quarterback position in the 94-year history of the NFL,Peyton is leading his team to the Superbowl.

I have read and seen many stories about Peyton, how he is a consummate professional, treats fans, media, teammates and even his opponents with respect.  But, he never flaunts his Christian faith, he chooses to let his life speak for him.

                                                                                                                                            Bill Frakes/Getty Images

In Peyton’s book Manning, which he co-wrote with his father, the legendary Archie Manning, in 2001, the record-setting quarterback describes his faith and its importance to him.

For me generally it had always been the big four: faith, family, friends, and football. . . . as important as football is to me, it can never be higher than fourth. My faith has been number one since I was thirteen years old . . .

Some players get more vocal about it . . . and some point to Heaven after scoring a touchdown and praise God after games. I have no problem with that. But I don’t do it, and don’t think it makes me any less a Christian. I just want my actions to speak louder, and I don’t want to be more of a target for criticism . . .

My faith doesn’t make me perfect, it makes me forgiven, and provides me the assurance I looked for half my life ago. . .

I’ve been blessed—having so little go wrong in my life, and being given so much. I pray every night, sometimes long prayers about a lot of things and a lot of people, but I don’t talk about it or brag about it because that’s between God and me, and I’m no better than anybody else in God’s sight.

But I consider myself fortunate to be able to go to Him for guidance, and I hope (and pray) I don’t do too many things that displease Him. . . . I believe, too, that life is much better and freer when you’re committed to God in that way.

Future Saints playerI know many of you do not give a hoot about the Superbowl, I myself look forward to the food and fellowship. But, I am always encouraged as the mother of two boys that there are the Manning boys and Tim Tebow out there playing their hearts out, and that their hearts are first and foremost focused on above.

Go Broncos! And hot wings, and spinach dip!
The Park Wife

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