Tuesday, May 28, 2013

soylovely; down on the farm

 Disclosure: The following post is all about the Bean2Blog event, during which P. Allen Smith and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board  fed me lunch, gave me a t-shirt and showed me a good time. All opinions are my own.

To say that the last few weeks have been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, would be an understatement.
Changes at work, a mini-media blitz for the book, too many weekends in a row spent working on promotions, news of friends moving, news of family moving,  a medicine refill snafu, plus a couple of other hiccups here and there, (exasperated by not enough rest to properly absorb it all,) had left me so drained and exhausted, that by last Monday night I was seriously considering calling in sick to one of my most favorite events ever: Bean 2 Blog. 

In the end, I didn't call in sick.
Partly because Jeanetta told me to go anyway. That it would be restful. And that she wanted to live vicariously  through my Instagram feed, so I should just buck up and go. 
Which is what I did.
And of course it was soylovely.
Yes, I said soylovely. Because the day was mostly all about soy. And it was lovely. And we had to each make up our own soy-inspired word, and that was what I came up with. I think I should trademark it, don't you?

Moss Mountain Farm is one of the most peaceful places I have ever been. When I am there I feel as if everything will always be okay, no matter what.
Because this was my second trip to the farm, I felt like I was able to go slower and breathe in tranquility a little bit deeper, and to notice things a little bit closer. I was tempted to slip away from the group, walk through this gate, and just sit on the hill the rest of the day mulling over the shapes of the clouds.

Recently Miles saw a hillside covered in tall grass, similar to this one, and he announced that if we ever get a farm, he wants to grow hay so that he can just watch it blow in the breeze.
Gotta love that kid. He has a poets heart underneath it all.
Also, he would flip out over Moss Mountain.

Even though the weather was a mixed bag- sun, rain, humidity, and a breeze all showed their faces- nothing could spoil our plans and we all had a blast tromping through Allen's gardens and fields.

This year we were able to visit with more of the livestock than before.
A few of us even managed to call the sheep down from the hill.
I have been around goats fairly often, but never sheep.
They are too cute. Especially the babies.
I wondered if Allen would notice if one or two of them went missing? 
Don't you think Maizy needs some sheep to herd? 

I feel like this picture is a great example of what it is like to hang out with all the Arkansas Women Blogger gals. Or what it is like to go to an event with bloggers period.
Lots of cameras.
Lots of cute outfits.
Lots of smiles.
Lots of Instagraming.
Lots of boots.
And Paige seemed to always be in this pose, getting down and dirty to get the best shots of the day.

Love, love Alison's fishtail braid of her dreads.
Gonna miss this gal when she heads to Scotland for 3 YEARS (I can barely speak of it) so very much.
Can't quite get my mind- or heart- around it yet.
I think I need a sponsor to send A Homemade Year to Edinburgh.

Miss JoBeth here (aka Boots) is rocking the denim and the pearls. 
This lady has great style and a HUGE heart.
So much fun to get to spend a day with her.

Love Lyndi's gingham and Stephanie's yellow skirt. 
Such sweet gals.

This is Mimi San Pedro, our fearless leader during Bean2Blog. She is P. Allen's Chief Marketing and Operating Officer and an absolute hoot. Mimi keeps us bloggers in line with her fierce mixture of humor and no-nonsense direction. There is never a dull moment when Mimi is in charge!

This was Sarabeth's first trip to Moss Mountain, and therefore we had to surgically remove her camera from her hands at the end of the day.
Cannot wait to see what shots she got of the day.

I forgot my camera (that shows how tired was- a blogger forgetting her camera? Insane.) and my phone kept running out of battery (thank goodness for helpful folks that have chargers on hand) so I did not get any pictures inside Allen's Garden Home - but luckily I have ALL those pictures from last year. And really, not much has changed on that front. The entire house is as dreamy as I remembered it.

There are two buildings in the backyard garden area that are octagonal shaped. They often use these rooms when they host cocktail parties on the grounds. The wooden candelabras is on a pulley system so that they can raise and lower it to light the candles. And all the little ledges on the inside of the walls can also hold candles or flowers depending on the time of day the party takes place. I would love to see these rooms all lit up at night.

One of the new additions from last years visit are the new public bathrooms, which are located next to the gift shop. In typical Moss Mountain style, even the bathrooms are farm-chic!

This is the party barn, which is where we ate lunch, learned about soy farming in Arkansas, and saw a demo on making soy candles from LockStars Soy Candles.
One day I will have my own party barn. I just know it!
One day...

As many of you know, one of our families dreams is to someday, somehow,  live on a small farm. And even though that day may be later rather than sooner, I am continually interested in Arkansas agriculture on both the large and small scale. Soy is second highest agriculture commodity in Arkansas and is called the "miracle bean" for it's wide range of uses.  During our day on Moss Mountain, we were able to talk to West Higginbothom, who is a third generation Arkansas farmer. West was very easy to talk to, answered all our questions frankly and without hesitation (even the ones about GMO's, organic farming and so on,) and gave us insight into the daily challenges, duties and rewards of farming soybeans here in the Natural State.

Sitting at home on the kitchen table are several little packets of Edamame seeds and soil similar to these, just waiting for me to get them started for our garden. I would just love to be able to grow all of the vegetables needed to make Edamame Succotash

In addition to  getting to bring some Edamame seeds home to plant in our own gardens, we got to plant some soy in Allen's 1 acre garden. Here Sarabeth demonstrates how to kick dirt over the seed using her fab red boot.

We also got to try a variety of soy food-products, which were all yummy.
Including Soy blueberry muffins and Edamame hummus.

Allen also gave a cooking demo, teaching us that the best way to flavor tofu is to slice it, dry-fry it, and then place it in a zip lock bag to marinate, covered with the seasonings or sauce that you want it to taste like.
When the boys were babies we blended tofu with all sorts of veggies in the food processor, but since then we have not used it so much.  I am eager to try this new technique, and also to make some of the soy spinach artichoke dip that we enjoyed before we headed home (once I track down the recipe I will pinnterest it for you.)

I have to give a huge thanks to Allen, Team Moss Mountain, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, West, LockStars, Mimi and everyone who made this day so wonderful. Their hospitality and attention to detail really makes an event like this a treat.

As usual, Jeanetta was right, I did have a blast, and it was so restful to get away for a day, to do something outside of myself and my agenda, to learn about part of the world that I admire but know a limited amount about, and to soak up the wide open spaces and friendly faces that greeted me at every turn.
I guess you could say that it was soylovely. (I'm killing you aren't I?)
But don't just take my word for it- visit all the other bloggers who have begun posting about their experiences as well- Click here to see the Link-Up Bean2Blog Party. 

Also you can visit all the gals from the day over on their home turfs:
Angie – A Growing Season
Debbie – Dining with Debbie
Stephanie – The Park Wife
Alison – Alison Chino
Lyndi – NWA Foodie
Lauren – In Arkansas
Sarabeth – The Dramatic
Gina – Desperately Seeking Gina
Julie – Eggs and Herbs
JoBeth – Boots McBlog
Blair – In Arkansas
Paige – Approaching Joy
Anita – Aunt Nubby’s Kitchen
Beth – The Food Adventuress
Melissa – A Familiar Path
Karen – Ting’s Mom

Thursday, May 23, 2013

where i rested my weary bones

I am experiencing a bit of radio silence syndrome this week.
Feeling the need to retreat inside myself a bit, to hold my words close, to carrying them with me a little longer. To take a little respite for my heart and mind.

But I did want to share with you pictures from the amazing little cottage retreat that we stayed in last weekend. I cannot truly convey how lovely the weekend was without including our stay at  Elk Street Cottage. 

Every now and then I  stumble upon a physical space that seems to have been made just for me. A place that seems to provide a spiritual oasis for my fuzz-filled brain, and healing rest for my over-tired body. Elk St. Cottage was just that sort of place, and I am still carrying a bit of it's magic with me. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

monday musings

Here are all the things I know for sure after this weekend:
*I am way more introverted than I think- at least with strangers.
*I really am blessed to have the sorts of friends that I have. The sort that will go along on your escapades, get sunburned and be sleep deprived just to help you out (more on this to come...) 
*I really did a good thing by marrying Nathaniel Wayne Greer almost 16 years ago. I think we will be good empty-nesters as my friend Alison says.
*I will be yarn (or doily) bombing the trees in my front yard.
*I am infinitely interested in the education of women over the course of history
* I really miss researching. 
*Hats really do look best on curly headed gals.
*Vacationing in an all-white house really is as dreamy as I always imagined (more on this to come...)
* I am not an Energizer Bunny. And I no longer aspire to be one.
* Prodigal Summer is a great book. It may be a favorite.
*I can go three days without opening my laptop.

Here are somethings I am considering after this weekend:
* I think I might be ready to downsize from a King bed to a Queen...
* Hanging all white curtains in every room during the summer months
* I think maybe the idea of how to make authentic friendships as adult women is something that needs to be explored further. Thoughts?
*Is anyone an extrovert around strangers?

OK that is all for today.
I am still in the re-entry phase from our lovely weekend away, but I did want to say hello.
More in depth discussions of many of these topics, and more answers to your questions to come soon!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

just a lovely time

Tuesday night my friend Christen Byrd (far right) threw me and A Homemade Year a Living Room Tour party in her backyard.
The night was amazing. 
The weather was perfect, warmish, breezy, fluffy clouds overhead.
The decor absolutely sumptuous.
Christen is an amazing party thrower and no detail was spared for this little shin-dig. Seriously. This gal 
Party guest Amara (on the left) even made a recipe from the book- Summer Pineapple Pasta Salad (found in the Ordinary Time chapter) for us all to sample.
Christen's kids played several games of Memory using the Old Joseph Cards (the printable can be found here) and other bits and pieces from the book made their way into the party scene-including lots of gingham and vintage sheets.

Learning to juggle family, work, book promotion and speaking engagements has been a bit of a challenge over the past two months, but nights like these makes it all worth it.
The ladies who came were delightful, sweet and so welcoming. 
I loved getting to share part of my story and hear part of theirs. 
Every time I get to speak to a group I have to pinch myself a little bit.  I am beyond blessed, and I am so grateful to be asked. Pouring out hope, tender truth, and  light into the hearts of others is no small thing and I try my best to handle  the responsibility gently, respectfully, and  humbly. 
No one in this world has to listen to a word I say, or read a line I write, so each time someone chooses to do so is a huge honor.  
And each time one of my friends invites me to share my book and story and heart with their friends, I am doubly honored, because they know me and if what I was sharing was bs, they would be the first ones to say so. They would not hang handmade buntings and make lemon bars and invite their friends over to meet me. 
Which is why I have to pinch myself.


Speaking of listening and reading....
I taped my very first ever radio interview last week and you can now listen to it here (of course it is so weird to hear my own voice. And I sort of sound like a grown-up. How did that happen??)

I am confessing a bit about motherhood over at the Little Rock Family blog with a small excerpt from A Homemade Year

And I am reinventing a garage sale find over on the At Home blog 

PS-If you like the look of this party, and the idea of having a little get-together filled with crafts, yummy food and blessings, stay tuned... Something LOVELY is coming soon....

PPS- Have a good weekend! I am off to Eureka Springs, AR for most of mine. See you all here next week.

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