Outdoors


Beautiful weather here in central Arkansas today-High of about 70˚!

Saturdays, if we don’t have to run off somewhere, our family tends to sleep in a bit. I usually make pancakes-some with chocolate chip-some without. If the weather is agreeable, Chip and I like to sit on the porch in our pjs and sip coffee while we solve the world’s problems.

Since today was going to be so nice, we decided to do something a little different.

We have been trying to get back into exercising. This week we went on a couple of bike rides. I walked around town a little. One day, while the girls were at piano lessons,  I made my Dad go walking with me on some hills. I don’t think he liked the hills very much.

We live where there are NO hills. FLAT! I really felt the need to walk on some hills!

So, this morning Chip and I headed to one of my favorite neighborhoods in Little Rock to walk–Hillcrest.

I love the houses. I love the trees. I love the shops and restaurants. Sigh!

Our plan was to sleep in a little, go walk, find a smoothie place and be home around 1:00.

Hillcrest

Lab Parking

This sign cracked me up for some reason. I guess I expected to see a black Labrador sitting there or something!

Remember the reason we wanted to go to Hillcrest? Hills!

hill 2

hill 3

hill

I’m sure I will be wobbly tomorrow.

Hillcrest Lookout

walking trails

I only took a couple of pictures of houses because I was walking. There are just so many quaint houses in Hillcrest though!

curved porch

The Siegle-Donham House

We eventually wandered into Rosalia’s Bakery in search of smoothies. It is right next door to Cafe Bossa Nova. Come to find out, they are owned by the same folks. The restaurant sure smelled good.

Rosalia's Bakery

They didn’t have smoothies, but they did have these…

Yucca Puffs

The bakery shares a parking lot with pizza place we really like, Damgoode Pies. We have always called it “Darngoode Pies”. If you go, be sure to get the pink sauce. It’s my favorite!

Damgoode Pies

Down the street was Hillcrest Artisan Meats! (I have to add that I got a little giggle adding my website address to a picture of a pig!)

Pig

I was very excited to step in to H.A.M. I have been following them on Facebook for a while. We didn’t get to eat there today. Remember, we were on a smoothie hunt. We WILL go back!

H.A.M.

Here is a little peak inside…

eat sign

artisan cheeses

artisan meats

samples

salts

vegetarian

Taking a walk break.

IheartHillcrest

Well, all we could find in Hillcrest was coffee shops. We hopped in the truck and headed up the road to The Heights–another of my favorite neighborhoods–in search of smoothies.

We struck gold at Red Mango.

Red Mango

straws

Chip got the Mango-Pineapple Smoothie and I had the Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Smoothie. We also picked up a fancy water for later.

smoothies

We ended up liking each other’s smoothie better than our own. So,we shared them both as we strolled up and down the street.

Red Mango is right next door to Cupcakes on Kavanaugh–yum!

Cupcakes on Kavanaugh

We saw a barber pole along the way. When you are a Sweet Adeline, you notice these things.

Barber Poll

There are lots of neat shops and galleries and such in the Heights.

Chrome gallery

Ozark Outdoor was a must see for Chip. They had lots of cool hiking and running-type stuff in there.

Ozark Outdoor

Just across the street was a Eggshells Kitchen Co. I was like a kid in a candy shop!

Eggshells Kitchen Co

I was glad we had out Blackberry Pomegranate water to enjoy on the way home.

Mountain Valley Sparkling Water

What a great Saturday morning! We even made it home by 1:00.

What did you do on your Saturday morning?

Falling Leaves Cookies

I love seeing the fall colors. We have a pretty little maple tree in the back yard that is still holding on to its leaves.

We spent last weekend clearing the yard of leaves. The next day you could hardly tell we had done any work at all.

I have many happy memories of raking and playing in the leaves. Fall is a happy time. I guess that is why I am in no hurry to get to Christmas.

autumn cookies

I had a small amount of leftover cookie dough in the fridge, so I decided to make these cookies. I was inspired by these cookies I saw on Pinterest.

I took the easy way out on the decorating. The white part is good old ready-to-spread frosting. The tree trunks are made from melted chocolate chips. The leaves are teeny tiny leaf-shaped sprinkles!

Tiny sprinkles

So cute!

a spoon full of sprinkles

They are called Micro Sprinkles.

sprinkling leaves

The girls had fun adding the leaves for me.

wind-blown cookie

tree cookies

leaf cookies

last fall leaf

Katie had a writing assignment at school around the first of October. In my “unbiased” opinion, I thought it was very good! It seemed fitting to share it along with this post.

Enchanted Place by Katie Bayer (age 12)

Being outside in fall is my favorite place to be. Here, I watch the pale morning sun as it plays golden shafts of light on the ground, livening the crisp, fall-time air. Its warm rays flow across the sap and morning dew, and they glisten on the earthen floor like spun sugar. Leaves fall like gentle rain, blanketing the ground in richness and color.

All around, nature sings its song. Leaves lazily strum the air as it passes, playfully blowing tendrils of loose hair around my face and bringing the faint, melodic call of a care-free bird to my ears.

All around me, nothing is heard except for the bird’s call or the song of the leaves rustling listlessly in the wind. They shyly twirl through the air and land softly on the crown of my exposed head. I take it off tenderly and observe its vibrant color, its fragile lace tightly webbed in between sturdy veins. I let the wind professionally claim them, the cool morning air running thinly through my outstretched fingers. I exhale, breath billowing visibly from between my lips, close my eyes, then inhale again, savoring the smoky scent of burning leaves. I smile. I am right where I want to be, my enchanted place, and I will enjoy every second that I am here.

Back in February I made an investment. No, I’m not about to give you financial advice. When I committed to eat less and exercise more, I had to find exercises I was willing to do.

So, we bought bikes–an investment in fitness.

bike

That was in late February. We had an unusually cool, rainy Spring, by Arkansas standards.

Too wet to go out

And too cold to play ball.

So we sat in the house.

We did nothing at all.

(Can you name that quote?)

We didn’t really “do nothing at all”. We signed up to participate in the CARTI Tour de Rock Family Fun Ride.

The Fun Ride was 10 miles!

So, we started training. We rode 3 miles and thought we would all DIE! It was going to take bit of training to build up our stamina to go the whole 10 miles. Drain we did! But I was getting nervous! Would I be able to do it?

The day of the race came. The farthest our crew had ridden was 8.1 miles. Now I was REALLY nervous!

We loaded the bikes and took off for the race!

bikes

It was very exciting for all of us to have our very own official race bibs and t-shirts.

bib

tshirt

Don’t we look happy?

happy

This was our route for the Fun Ride.

route map

The happy faces didn’t last long, however. This was the scene as we pulled into the parking lot that morning.

more rain

Hoping the weather would clear up, we hung out for a little while.

finish line

Then a race official came and told us the race had been cancelled because the radar looked like this…

radar

Our happy faces were gone!

sad

All our hard work! All our training! For what? A rained out race!

We weren’t going to let a little rain keep us from achieving our 10 mile goal. The next day was GORGEOUS! So, we decided to go for a ride. We were going to ride our 10 mile family fun ride for ourselves!

girls riding bikes

farm

tired bikers

I love riding in the country! The sights, smells and sounds are wonderful! Crop dusters flying by. Privet Hedge in full bloom. The smell of lumber as a new home is being built. Amber waves of grain blowing in a field. Frogs croaking in a nearby ditch.

We rode all the way to a little church 7 miles from our house. That, of course, meant 7 miles home.

rest break

We did it! We rode the 10 miles, and then some!

We made quite an investment in February–an investment in Fitness, Family and Fun!

The Lord works in mysterious ways. I have wanted to share this post for a week or so. Time just got away from me. Today, the day AFTER Christmas, I finally have time. We had a wonderful Christmas with lots of family at our house. After all the family made their way to their homes, it started to snow! (For those of you not in the South, snow on Christmas day is rare. This was the first time it has snowed on Christmas day in 80 years, or so they say.)

When I read today’s devotion from my A.W. Tozer book, it talked about how when Christ was born, all of nature went out to greet Him. The star in the sky, the shepherds in the fields, the cattle in the stall–his own creations worshiping their Creator. Pretty cool!

This post, too, involves God’s creation! I thought it was neat that my devotion for today coincided with me having time to do this post

Several years ago, after Christmas, I was out in the yard and noticed my neighbor had set her fresh wreaths out for the trash man.

I couldn’t let those wreath forms just go in the trash! So, I cleaned out the forms and they found a new home at my house.

wreath supplies

Making fresh wreaths is now one of my favorite things to do at Christmas. I love walking around the yard gathering bits and pieces of beautiful things to use in my wreaths.

When we get our Christmas tree, we always get a bag of greenery for just this purpose. It is free!

wreath making

The smells are wonderful–fir, pine, cedar!

I made all the wreaths different and hung them on my porch. Our holly tree was not as full of berries as it usually is. Most of the berries I used were from my Nandina bushes.

Ivy, boxwood, and magnolia were nice to use in the decorations as well.

with ivy and pine

holly and ivy

The big green balls are called Osage Oranges. I picked them up near my sister’s house.

ice skates

partial wreath

Photographing wreaths against a back-lit screen was difficult. I took some more at night, but they were okay at best.

cedar wreath

wreath with nandina berries

osage orange with magnolia leaves

window decor 2window decor

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty You have created.

holly with snow

snow

We spent our last night at Nana and Bud’s playing a rousing game of bocce ball! This was my first experience with bocce ball. Click here for How to Play.

Nana was inside fixing dinner while we played. I was actually the score-keeper the first round.

We had Bubba Burgers for dinner. Have you ever tried them?

They were no Nana Burgers, but they were pretty tasty.

We had a fantastic time on our trip to Nana and Bud’s house. I hope you enjoyed our vacation with us!

How exciting! My first camping trip! Well, I went camping once with my family when I was a kid. This was different. This time I had responsibilities! I had to cook over a campfire! I was never a Girl Scout, but I was very excited about the camp food.

We actually bought this tent for the kids a couple of Christmases ago. This was her maiden voyage.

(more…)

What is a girl to do?! Be a good blogger and go the event for bloggers she signed up to attend? or Be a good blogger and go to get some GREAT blog material?

Yes, I chose the former.

I recently signed up to be part of a blogger network called Arkansas Women Bloggers.

It turns out, shortly after I signed up, I read that the annual meet-up was going to be in Little Rock soon. I was super excited! The whole reason I signed up on the network was so I could get to know some other local bloggers.

I committed to go.

Come to find out, the meet up was going to be on the same day that Chip had to work. He wasn’t just working working. He was covering the Salsa Party his company was sponsoring with P. Allen Smith, one of our local celebrities. You may have seen him when he was on the Today Show.

So, Chip and the girls went to the Salsa party and I went to blogger party.

The blogger party was held at the Historic Arkansas Museum. The museum even gave us all a 20% discount card to use in the gift shop–which, sadly, I forgot about until later that night when I was emptying my pockets.

These are the folks who came to the event. You know that first one!

Gina Knuppenburg – http://isogina.blogspot.com
Lindsay Irvin – http://arkansasbride.com
Kelcie Huffstickler – http://thisbeautifulinheritance.com
Blair Tidwell – http://littlerockfamily.com
It was a good time, and I got to meet some really nice folks.
These ladies were our hostesses for the day. They are the ones who run Arkansas Women Bloggers. Left to right you have Fawn from Instead of the Dishes, Natalie Ghidotti from Ghidotti Communications (she was actually our guest speaker not one of the blog ladies), Stephanie from The Park Wife, and Julie from Eggs & Herbs.
I learned some great blogging tips. I hope to have time to test these out soon. Biggest tip, for blog life AND real life, be yourself! Don’t do things on your blog because you see some big-time blogger do them. Make your own footprint.
It was a fun time. I even scored some jam from The Park Wife. That will be in another post.
While I was at the meet up, the rest of the gang was at the Salsa Party. Fortunately, Chip was there to take pictures for the company.
Here are some of the highlights from their event.

You gotta have a piñata at a Salsa party!

Salsa dance instructors, Jeremiah and Mallory form Arthur Murray Dance Studio, were incredible to watch!

They even gave lessons.

Do you recognize the students?

There was even a Mariachi band! Oh, wait, maybe not.

Of course the whole reason for the party was to drum up interest in the company store. What better way than to bring in a celebrity!

P. Allen Smith talked about container gardening first.

The girls really enjoyed this part. They have their own container garden they are trying out this year. They had lots of questions.

I bet my friend, Cathy, had something to do with those Bonnie Plants! You may remember Cathy from my tomato basil soup post.

I had to put this picture in there because I liked the little flags in the background. Kristy and her crew did a great job with the decorations!

Now that everyone knows how to GROW the ingredients for salsa, they can all MAKE the salsa!

Yummy!

The recipe says to grill or roast  the tomatoes first. Interesting.

This is the recipe card that went with the salsa.

Blue Cross passed out these handy cutting mats as well.

Ah, yes, my family loves me. They know I do not care for cilantro. So, what did they do? They took a picture of it for me!

Yes, they do love me! They got me a signed copy of P. Allen Smith’s book, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden, for Mother’s Day. They are sneaky!

Mr. Smith was kind enough to pose with the company mascot, Blue Ann Ewe.

I did make it to the Salsa Party in time to see the dancers and do a little dancin’ myself.
It sure looked like a good time was had there.
We all had a great day!

WARNING! THIS BLOG POST IS LONG AND CONTAINS LOTS OF FAMILY PHOTOS!

What a weekend we had last weekend! My daughter’s high school team played my husband’s alma mater. We spent the weekend at Aunt Mary’s house on Culpepper Mountain. Mary is Chip’s aunt. They are only 5 years apart, so they grew up more like brother and sister.

Let me tell you, we packed a bunch into one weekend!

First, there was the game on Friday night. Our team got pounded into puddin’, but it didn’t really matter. We had so much fun the rest of the weekend, we kinda forgot about the game.

Saturday morning Mary took us for a hike in the woods. These are the woods Chip grew up hiking in when he was a kid. Well, kinda. There was a monster tornado that went through Clinton, AR about 4 1/2 years ago that changed things quite a bit.

Here are some pictures from our 2 hour hike:

The trees were amazing!

This is Mary with the beautyberry bush. Yes, I just learned that is what these pretty purple berries are called.

Mary called this her “Prayer Rock”. What a fabulous place to worship!

Looks like a family trait!

On our way back to the house we took a different route. Mary knew the route. She even knew about this old house. What she didn’t know about was all the briers. Tons of briers! We hiked around forever trying to avoid having to go through them.

There is so much for you to take note of in this next picture.

  • Notice how red Mary’s face is. Part of that is due to the fact that we had been hiking for two hours wearing sweatshirts! Part may be blood from where the briers whacked her in the face. Ouch!
  • Notice Megan’s pocket on her sweatshirt. It is crammed full of pine cones and acorns and such. You’ll see why later.
  • Notice Katie’s face. She was worried we would never make it home and we’d have to live in that little house and eat Megan’s acorns.
  • Notice that thing I’m holding in my hand. It’s just some pretty dried seed pods. Mary said it looked like a voodoo stick. Funny thing is, all the trouble in the briers started after picking up the stick. Coincidence?

Once we could finally see the highway, we could laugh about our experience. We stumbled across a pile of bones. We said they were from the last group that got lost in “these here parts”.

Back at the house, we ate some yummy barbecue and rested before the “surprise”. Mary’s surprise came complete with accessories.

This is Mary’s neighbor, James Reed. He is a real cowboy. He competes in the annual Chuckwagon Races in Clinton. He and his crew are legendary for their race in 2008. I’m just glad I didn’t see this video before we rode with him!

We went around the pasture at a nice clip-clop pace, enjoying the scenery and such. When we went around for a second time I thought, “Oh, we’re going on the same route. This is going to be boring.” Was I ever wrong! At the half-way point on the second lap, James got those horses in gear. They were really only going about quarter speed. From the springy back seats it felt like we were flyin’! The girls and I were whoopin’ it up back there.—wavin’ our hands in the air and laughing.

Then we hit a bump!

Megan and I held on to the sides and put a death grip on Katie, who was in the middle with nothing to hold onto. The horses saw the barn up ahead and were churnin’! I wish I could have recorded the laughter and screams of delight! We made that next turn and I was sayin’ my prayers! I wondered how Mary was going to explain to Chip why we didn’t come home with her!!! James is a pro! He had it all under control the whole time.

While we were on our wagon adventure, Chip and Rick, Mary’s husband, were back at the house shooting guns off the porch. When we got back, it was mine and Mary’s turn to shoot.

Here goes the “city girl”.

Rick’s gun has some fancy slide somethin’-or-‘nother that makes that kind of gun legal. I know nothing about all that. It is apparently a huge new thing. They happen to kind of know the people who run the company, Slide Fire Solutions.

I liked shooting this gun better.

While Mary and I made a quick trip to the store, Chip and the girls rode the 4-wheeler.

Time for the cookout!

Look, Mary even made little Smore kits! So cute!

This was Mary’s first smore-ever! I know! Crazy, huh? She said she had made them before but had never actually eaten one! Of course she loved it! How could she not?!

“Let me show you how it’s done.”

While we were munching our smores, some raccoons came up to feed. Mary and Rick have all kinds of wildlife come into their yard, so they feed them. They have raccoons, foxes, deer, bobcats, coyotes, cats, squirrels, ok, I guess the cats aren’t considered wildlife. They don’t shoot these critters, except for the coyotes. They’re bad.

Here is the lovely picture I took of the raccoons. Click the picture. All you see is a couple of green dots on a black background. Lovely, huh?

I dropped it into Photoshop and it looked a little better. If you click this picture, you can actually see the raccoon.

By this time it was almost kick-off of the Razorback game. I told you we crammed a lot into the weekend. But wait—there’s more!

Sunday morning Chip took me out on the 4-wheeler.

The girls used their cache from our hike to make nature centerpieces while we were gone.

We had to get just a few more pictures before we left.

Chip and the girls took another turn on the 4-wheeler. Mary and I headed to Conway. Several of the shops were having an Open House. We saw lots of pretty things!

We met up with the rest of the gang a bookstore. Then it was time to head home. Back to reality.

It was such a great weekend! Mary is the ultimate hostess and event planner.

We laughed. We cried. We solved ALL the world’s problems.

Most of all we made wonderful memories on Culpepper Mountain!

Well, I’ve done it. I let my friend, who will remain nameless, you know who you are, convince me to join Pinterest. (Clicking this link will take you directly to my page.)

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest, according to their website…

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is virtual crack!

Here is what my page looks like.

I’m just getting started. I’ve really tried to show some restraint, unlike SOME people I know-ahem.

There are just so many great ideas out there. I see some things and think-hey, I did that 15 years ago.

Then I see something else and think-hey, I tore that out of a magazine 15 years ago.

Mostly I think-Wow! there are a lot of really cool ideas floatin’ around out there. When will I have time to do them all?

Anyway, it is great fun!

It is like all those little things I rip out of magazines because I love them. The only difference is I can find them here!

I am a bit concerned that I will do the same thing with my pinned items that I have done for years with my magazine scraps. Admire them from time to time, think about how cool it would be to do the projects, then never do it.

Ugh! Thus the blog.

I’m working on getting a “pin it” button for Pork Chop Tuesday, in case you are interested. If you have a Pinterest page, you already know how to pin things. If you would like to join Pinterest, let me know. I’ll send you an invitation. However, consider yourself warned! It is addictive!

Are you a Pinterest addict? Leave me a comment, we’ll form a support group!

What a day we had yesterday! Typically I make pancakes on Saturday—every Saturday. I have been searching through cookbooks for new recipes. I came across this one for pumpkin waffles. It sounded yummy. It also afforded me the opportunity to use the waffle maker Mom and Dad gave us for our anniversary!

While this recipe comes from a Cooking Light cookbook, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe. We drink 2% milk, it calls for 1%. I’m sure that had an impact on the calorie count.

Pumpkin Waffles

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup 1% low-fat milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large egg, lightly beaten

cooking spray

•Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a a large bowl.

•Make a well in center of mixture.

•Combine milk and next 4 ingredients.

Yep, I cheated and used canned pumpkin!

I didn’t have any dark brown sugar. Use what you have, folks!

•Add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist.

I do want to mention this about the canned pumpkin. I think it is a little more liquid-y than homemade puree. I noticed the first waffle was a little on the gooey side. Might be that I need to turn the heat up a little. I added a little more flour to the mix and the next waffle was better.

•Coat a waffle iron with cooking spray, preheat. Spoon about 1/4 cup of batter per waffle onto hot waffle iron, spreading batter to edges. Cook until your little light goes off, or according to other directions you might have-5 to 7 minutes.

Be sure to sip coffee out of your PCTuesday coffee mug! Isn’t it great! My hubby does the sweetest things for me!

About the only thing that would have made these better would have been some toasted pecans on top! Then again, don’t toasted pecans on top make everything better?

Critics’ Corner

Chip:  It was a little sliver of autumn topped with butter and syrup. Apparently, autumn tastes pretty good, at least with butter and syrup.

Megan:  I think this is one of my favorite ways to eat waffles.

Katie:  They were pretty good. I could taste the pumpkin well. I wasn’t just wild about it. One being the lowest and 100 being the highest I would have to say it was a 98. But it was pretty close to 100.

That was just for starters!

We headed into town to the Argenta Farmers Market.

Chip really wanted a nice beefsteak tomato. Guess were were a little late in the season to find tomatoes. They had plenty of squash though!

I ended up buying some local honey. Not that I needed honey. The tiny little bear was just so cute! Sorry, no picture. (Bad blogger! Shame on you!)

We left the farmers’ market and headed down the interstate to a wonderful antique  junk shop. Sorry, no picture of the outside. My photographer didn’t get the message. I don’t even know the name of the shop. It’s in Bryant, AR just off the service road. If you pass it you have to go a couple of miles before you can turn around and come back and go a few more miles. Ask me how I know!

This is what it is like on the inside:

I was in heaven!!!

We, ok, I had a blast! Everyone else had fun at first. I cut my looking short and left empty handed, for the sake of the children.

Nothing a trip to Wendy’s at 1:30 wouldn’t fix! No wonder the were getting grumpy!

After lunch were were on to our next stop…the new Apple Store! (You should hear angels singing right now. If you don’t, you must be using a PC! haha)

I had to go drool on the iPad2. It was just so cool! And WOW, look at that great looking website! Hmmm, something familiar about that!

That was lots of fun! Katie read a whole chapter in the Beezus and Ramona that was on one of the iPads.

Anthropologie was right next door, so we had to go.

Our last stop took us to the “Big Dam Bridge” at Murray Park.

Taking pictures helped my heebie jeebies. I really only got them when someone would get close to the side. Don’t ask me to explain it. Yes, I know they weren’t going to fall.

You can just barely see the flags in the picture below. We were way on up there!

It was a great, fun-filled day! We all slept good last night. Today was a good day of rest. I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow holds—most likely laundry.

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