House · Life · travel

Sunflowers Galore

Who doesn’t love sunflowers? They’re big, bright, and scream summer.

Yesterday we went to the first annual Sunflower Festival at Wild Things Farm. We knew it was going to be a hot day so we were there at the 9am opening. It didn’t help one bit. It was hot as blazes! We spent an hour picking sunflowers and taking photos under the suns death rays before we were all drenched in sweat and called it quits. We did make it out with tons of sunflowers though.  My house is covered in vases of sunflowers and I LOVE IT!

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Paula, Me, Liam, Emily

After that, we needed something cold to drink so we went to the ever faithful Savoy Tea Company and enjoyed their drinks and air conditioning.

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I can’t believe how much I’ve done this month. I mean, it was intended and I have been working toward having months exactly like this one, but wow, I’m really living life to the fullest! In July I have spent a week in San Antonio, a weekend in Missouri, went to a festival, had the best massage and facial I could have ever imagined, and still had time to work out regularly. I feel better mentally and physically than I have in years.

Life · stress free zone · travel

Turning 40

I have been so excited to turn forty. To many, it’s THE dreaded birthday, but not for me. I couldn’t be happier. Since the beginning of the year I started making changes in my life and through a ton of hard work and perseverance, I’m seeing the results of all the planning and work. I know to the bottom of my soul that my 40’s are going to be my best years yet!  They are because I’m going to make them the best.  I’m going to live my best life and all my goals are going to happen.untitled-1-125

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How I plan to spend much of the next forty years!

For my birthday, my friends (The Dinner Club) took me two and a half hours away to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri for the night. Holy cow, guys. This place was amazing! Everywhere you drove, everywhere you looked, there was a view! I would have taken far more photos, but we were too busy enjoying all the amenities to carry around a camera all over the large resort. Big Cedar even had me a little birthday cake and a card welcoming us there. I mean, come on… If you can make the trip to Big Cedar, DO IT!  It’s so worth it.

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We took a trip down the lazy river before eating ice cream then going to the salt water pool and relaxing. We went to lunch and dinner at the Devil’s Pool Restaurant and I had the oven prosciutto and brie pizza, which I loved. For dinner that night I had an appetizer of pork belly over a pea puree (seriously, the pork belly was freaking phenomenal) and for my entrée I had the Fresh Trout over lemon rice and spinach. They also brought us out a large brownie covered in ice cream for my birthday. It was great and we ate it all!

 

My sweet friends spent the day making me feel so special. I can’t tell you the amount of times I was nearly in tears from the amount of kindness that was showed to me the entire day. And even though my gift was them taking me there, they still got me a gift certificate for a massage and facial for when I got home.

My advice, find friends who truly care about you. I don’t mean friends who will buy you things and take you places, I mean friends who go out of their way to put a smile on your face and make you feel special. I’m lucky to have friends like that.

As for turning 40, other than my husband not being able to be there, it was the best birthday I’ve ever had. All thanks to The Dinner Club and Big Cedar Lodge.

Life · stress free zone · travel

Daycation

In late December, I listened to a Podcast episode from Rachel and Dave Hollis that impacted me deeply. So much so I begged my husband to listen to it (and he did) so he would understand what was about to happen, had to happen, and hoped he would be 100% behind me (and he is). I preordered Girl Wash Your Face and by doing that I received a video she did giving steps on how to achieve your goals. That night I bought a notebook and wrote down exactly how I wanted my life to be. A very detailed list. Seriously, I even wrote down what color nail polish I could see myself wearing in my vision of myself.

I had made the decision that if I wanted this life I envisioned, I’m the only person who was going to make it happen. No fairy god-mother was going to come down with her magical wand and grant me my dreams. I was going to work hard, real hard, and live the life I want.

Every morning (I have missed a handful of days) I get up an hour earlier than I used to. I spend at least thirty minutes looking at my vision, dream, goal, whatever you want to call it, list then write down what I’m going to do that day to get a step, even if it’s small, closer to my goal. I also write down what happened the day before. This way every single day I have a mission and I don’t forget what I’m working towards.

Amazingly enough, it’s working.

I’m not going to say everything that’s on my list, but its three pages long. So far I’ve paid off two credit cards and by this time next year we should be completely out of credit card debit. I haven’t drank Dr. Pepper since January 1st and honestly, I was addicted to it. I have a regular physical activity routine. I trained for and ran a 5k!!! I get out more and spend time with friends. A couple of weeks ago I went on a daycation kayaking trip with my bestie and had more fun than I’ve had in far too long. I was in my element. Kayaking and traveling were both on my list too! And this isn’t a check off list. This is a lifestyle list.

BTW, kayaking at Hochatown was one of the cleanest and fun rivers I’ve kayaked down!

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My face cracks me up.  The water was freezing!

 

Speaking of traveling, in 2019 I may have the chance to take two trips out of country! Not one, but two! Without making my goal list and looking at it every day, I don’t think it would be even remotely possible.

My 20’s were long and I had small children. My focus was on them. My 30’s flew by so quickly it’s mind boggling. Now, being less than a month away from 40 (it doesn’t seem possible), I want to spend this decade enjoying every single year! I want to soak it in. I am going to travel, live with less, have adventures, and be debt free. I want to take cooking classes and have photos my great grandchildren think, “dang, my Yaya knew how to live!”.  Curveballs happen, they always do. Heck, I’ve already had a few big ones in the last 6 months, but I just go back and read my list and figure out how the new circumstance can fit into my goal and not how I’m going to fit into the circumstance.

Life’s short ya’ll. We gotta live it while we can.

Food · travel

Wild Things Farm

Just across the state line into Oklahoma and about ten minutes from my house sits a family farm, cleverly named Wild Things Farm, that I love visiting. They’re open to the public pretty much year around so you can go in and pick whatever produce they have available at that time. Right now, it happens to be strawberries.

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Strawberries
I’d like to thank my husband for taking this photo when he knows absolutely nothing about photography and gave it a go.  I think he did pretty good for his first time.

 

I don’t know about y’all, but I love fresh strawberries and the strawberries at Wild Things Farm were a beautiful, vibrant red and incredibly sweet. Of course I had to make something from my bounty before my family devoured them all. I decided I’d make a couple chocolate strawberry loaves using a basic strawberry bread recipe, found here. Because I’m me and I like to mess with things and see how it goes I added cocoa powder and a few tablespoons of vanilla extract to bring out the chocolate flavor and it also added more liquid to the recipe since chocolate is notorious for drying out. I crossed my fingers and went for it and I’m glad I did.

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I also make a simple chocolate glaze with powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and milk (not pictured, sorry) to drizzle on each pieces after slicing.

If you get a chance, find a produce farm in your area and hang out for a while. If you happen to be in the Fort Smith, Arkansas area, take the extra three minutes and get lost at Wild Things Farm (and that could be literally considering it took forever for me to find my way out of the corn maze last fall).

travel

Hochatown, Oklahoma

Lately, my husband and I have been working our tails off at work. He’s working usually six days a week and twelve hours per day in a building without A/C. As you can imagine, he has been drained mentally as well as physically. Mine has been more mental exhaustion. I haven’t been able to relax and concentrate enough to do much more than the basics and writing has been out of the question.

We needed a break.

Last weekend we had the immense pleasure of spending Friday thru Sunday in a luxury cabin in the mist of pines and not far from Beaver Bend Lake. We drove through the gorgeous Ouachita Mountains to get there. The drive alone was fantastic. This cabin was perfect. Perfect! It was a two bedroom, one upstairs and one downstairs. We took the upstairs while my best friend and her husband took the downstairs (they got there before us and picked their room).  It was called B’s Retreat.  You can take a look at all the cabins here.

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My favorite part of the cabin was the large wraparound porch. First thing we did after unloading was make a sandwich and sit on the porch, watching the sun set through the trees. The place immediately put our souls to ease and transformed our mindset from work to relaxation.

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Saturday morning my best friend and I decided to try Stand Up Paddling while the guys played a round of golf. My back has been giving me trouble since July 1st so I was a little nervous to try it out, but so glad that I did. Who knew SUPing would be so fun?

When I first got on it, I had to stay on my knees and paddle, but once I got settled I didn’t have any issues standing up. I was surprised how swiftly they move over water. There was one time I got a little cocky and thought I could jiggle the board a little, but all it managed to do was knock me off and ruin my freshly washed and fixed hair.

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The curly hair came out!

 

After an hour of that, we returned to the cabin, showered and headed to Girls Gone Wine. What a fun place. They have a variety of wines to taste not to mention the wonderful Wine-a-Rita. Let me tell you, I wanted to take the machine home! It was so stinking good. So, I got tipsy at wine tasting. Luckily, the tipsy didn’t last long.

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Once we all made it back to the cabin, we grilled and ate on the porch before chilling out and calling it a night.

The next morning I got up extra early and sat outside and for the first time in far too long, I wanted to write. I pulled out my notebook and spent a good hour writing with the sound of nature surrounding me.

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The entire weekend was beautiful, relaxing, and exactly what we needed. I can’t wait to go back.