Category: Blogger of the Month Feature

A Beekeeper’s World

by Brenda Embery, Miss November 2017

Becoming a beekeeper was not a fly-by-night decision.  My dad had been a beekeeper and had been toying with the idea of getting hives again.  I had been reading and going to classes about becoming a beekeeper but didn’t feel I was ready to take the plunge.  After my mother unexpectedly passed away, I decided it was a good time to elicit his help to get me started and hopefully begin a healing process for both of us.  Here’s a glimpse into a beekeepers world.

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A Pollinator Friendly Garden

by Brenda Embry, Miss November 2017

Gardening, for me, is a state of mind.  To connect with nature, to create beauty, and to provide food for birds, bees and butterflies, gives me great satisfaction.  Pollinators, in particular, have a rough time when their habitat is limited. Restoring the landscape with native perennials or nectar-rich annuals can hopefully bring a balance to their uncertain future.

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Miss November 2017 Brenda Embry

I am very honored to be chosen as Blogger of the month for November! I appreciate this talented group of people so much. You all have been nothing but patient, kind, inspiring, and most of all, encouraging when it comes to my lack of blogging and technical skills and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I am an Arkansas native, born and raised in Springdale. As a child, I stayed with my great-grandmother and grandmother while my parents worked. Both were avid gardeners with very large gardens and most of my days were spent playing in dirt. When I was fourteen, my dad decided I needed some sort of job to keep me occupied during the summer. He fired up the tractor and began plowing up the large field across the creek and told me I would grow tomatoes. That didn’t sound too hard until he brought home two thousand tomato plants! He was right, though, it did keep me occupied but, in all honesty, I enjoyed it. Thankfully, our entire family helped each summer and by the time I was sixteen, I had saved enough money to buy my very own truck. In high school, I was in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and spent an absurd amount of time in the school greenhouse. I loved the warmth of the greenhouse in the winter and the smell of potting soil in the spring. My plan was to go to college and get a degree in horticulture but, unfortunately, my parents were unable to afford this plan.

Instead, I completed a dental assisting program and began working for a local dentist. At the age of nineteen, I married and we began our family. As the years went by, I decided to advance my career and pursue a degree in dental hygiene. Four years and many miles later, (I commuted to Joplin, Missouri daily) I graduated at the top of my class. Literally minutes before our graduation ceremony, we were told we had passed our stressful (and ridiculously long) National Board Exams. This good news, coupled with the fact that I was finally done with school, was such a relief I cried through the entire ceremony. My youngest son, who had just recently graduated from kindergarten, looked at me and said, “Mama, why are you sad? Don’t you get cupcakes for graduation?” Which made me cry even more because no, we didn’t get cupcakes!

In the mid 1990’s, we bought ninety acres in Hindsville and built our home. I remember it being quite an adjustment. We had been so used to being minutes from baseball fields, restaurants, and shopping, we had a bit of a culture shock when we found out our local Wal-Mart closed at 7pm (6pm in the winter!) and, I kid you not, the bank was open from 10:00-2:00. We had officially arrived in small town Arkansas.

As my boys became more independent, I felt the urge to play in the dirt again. I began constructing flower beds from the native stone on our property and acquiring plants and seeds from my family. I completed the Master Gardener program in 2003 and enjoyed being in the company of like-minded (aka obsessed) gardeners. I realized that gardening help me work through stresses of being a working mom of very active teenage boys. On my knees in the garden, with my hands in the soil, I felt a calming, peaceful bond with nature that completed me. Thank goodness it had never left, I guess it was just been resting. When it woke though, it hit the ground running. One small flower bed turned into eight large ones plus a vegetable garden. A small greenhouse was built which gave me a place to play during the colder months. I grasped the concept of my grandmothers that saving seeds would save me an immense amount of money on plants so I became fanatic about that, too. We had always had cattle, but I decided to add chickens for eggs and chickens for meat. I designed my chicken coop to have a ‘living roof’ and have covered it with variety of drought tolerant succulents.  Bees were next for pollination, honey and, most recently, learning to make mead (also called Honey Wine.)  I am completely out of control and loving every minute of it.

Before we knew it, we were empty nesters. We decided to buy a motorcycle and began exploring Arkansas every chance we could. We have been all over the United States and especially love to travel out west. We always make a point to take the road less travelled and have discovered the most interesting towns and people. I’m not sure why but everywhere we go, people seem to migrate towards our motorcycle. We have found that locals love to tell you about their town, an attraction, or activity that we might like. If time allows, we always explore and are rarely disappointed. It has been so fun and I’m glad I had the foresight to take a journal and camera with me and jot down our discoveries and adventures along the way. It was then I decided I should start a blog/journal about our travels and my love of gardening. So, in 2012, I did just that and have enjoyed sharing my farm and garden life sprinkled with road trips with anyone who will listen.

People always comment on how much work I do around my farm but, if you love working at your passion, you don’t realize it’s work.  So cliche’, but once you realize it, it’s like an epiphany smacking you in the face.  If nothing else, my life experiences have taught me one thing. I don’t want to waste a minute of the precious time I have here on earth not doing what I truly enjoy doing. So, hopefully soon, after thirty-six great years in the dental profession, I can follow my heart, hang up my scrubs, and pursue this passion of playing in the dirt that sprouted so many years ago.

Thanks for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to introduce myself. I hope you will visit my blog at www.theblondegardener.com

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Bacon & Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

by Miss October 2017, Keri Bucci

Stuffed mushrooms are one of my all-time favorite appetizers.  They are simple to make and come together fairly quickly, making a great party food option. With the holidays coming it is never too early to start working on those menu plans.  I love serving foods in small bites to my party guests. They are easier to eat while mingling and I have always loved the way small food looks displayed on serving platters. When it comes to small food, stuffed mushrooms are one of my all-time favorite appetizers.

I consider them to be a two-bite wonder, or one bite if no one is looking, right?  The filling possibilities are endless but for me the more bacon and cheese the better! In fact, I can’t really think of any appetizer that couldn’t be made better by adding a little bacon, but thankfully for this recipe, we don’t have to worry about that because it is packed with bacon and bold flavors.  

Chicken Fajita Ring, Low Carb & Gluten Free

By Miss October 2017, Keri Bucci

 

 
Growing up in South Arkansas, if there was one thing I learned it was how to throw a mean baby shower, holiday party, or church potluck. The key to these to pulling off one of these events is simple, amazing food. The recipes prepared are always amazing and they leave people talking for months after. There is just something special about the dishes all the women break out for these events that makes you want to forget about your diet or calories. Right?
Among all the decorated tables adorned with creamy dips and bacon filled pinwheels one of my favorites was this heavenly creation, everyone called a Taco Ring. It was delicious and usually the dish I gravitated to first. I mean how could it not be tasty with those flaky and buttery crescent rolls wrapped around a taco filling. I wasn’t the only fan among the quest apparently, because it always went fast.
These days I am still a fan of those food-centered gatherings and my love of the old Taco Ring remains, but unfortunately, the original recipe doesn’t fit into my gluten-free lifestyle so I had to give it up. But nobody will ever call this girl a quitter, oh no! So I pulled on my apron and got to work in the kitchen on this Chicken Fajita Ring.

Pecan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream, Low Carb, Gluten Free

by Miss October 2017, Keri Bucci

I love all things pumpkin and even though I could enjoy it all year long, I try to hold off until what everyone has deemed as “pumpkin season” arrives. I love to find ways to incorporate this fall favorite into new recipes each year. Since this year September was not wanting to stop with the hot temperatures I decided to create a refreshing pumpkin recipe that remind me that Fall weather was coming but one that didn’t leave me standing at the stove for hours. After all, it has still been really hot and who wants to bake in that kind of weather, right? 

This Pecan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream is a delightful and the perfect recipe if you want to enjoy the flavors of Fall no matter what the temperatures are.  If you love Pumpkin Pie this is the ice cream for you. All the creamy goodness of the pumpkin pie with the added crunch of pecans and pie crust pieces. It is amazing and the best part is that it is sugar, low-carb, and gluten-free, meaning it is so much easier to enjoy a bowl without all the guilt. How awesome is that?

Miss October 2017 – Keri Bucci

Hey, Y’all, I’m Keri, a food blogger over at My Table of Three, and believe it or not, I am your Mrs. October!

When I opened the email invitation for blogger of the month, I thought “Oh my word, what were they thinking; don’t they know I’m a hot mess over here?” Seriously, have you guys seen the talent around this site? These women are an inspiration and I wasn’t sure I could hold up to the wonderful bar they have set! But, after a couple of pep talks to myself, the honor of being able to share with all of you sank in and I convinced myself that you guys could handle a small peek into this wacky brain of mine.

First things first! I am a native Arkansan and though I have lived in a few other states for work, I have always known this beautiful state would be my home and where I would raise my family. I grew up in Camden, a small town in South Arkansas, where on a quick trip to WalMart, you were sure to see everyone you knew. Oh, and like other small towns, their parking lot was the popular hangout throughout my teenage years. You know, we were so cool back then! 

I was born to two amazing parents who taught me so much about living an honest and good life. The love and support they offered me growing up spurred me through my college years at Southwestern AG University in Waxahachie, TX and well into my years of building my career, working for a company that I had gotten very familiar with over the years, WalMart!

I enjoyed a 16-year career with them, before meeting and falling in love with the most wonderful man. We married and were blessed with a handsome son who has changed our life for the better. Soon after he was born I traded my high heels and busy work schedule for a chance to stay at home with my sweet boy. Over the last few years, my weeks consist of days where homeschooling, household chores, and blogging come crashing head first into my days working part-time as a real estate assistant. This world of mine is often a place where a well-planned day is only a small hiccup away from many hours of mom chaos.

Some days I can just go with the flow and come out smiling and other days I need to drink coffee by the gallon to keep my head above water. You know that saying, “fake it till you make it”, right? Well, that’s my motto on those days. Who am I kidding, it’s my motto for most days!  But no matter how hectic my schedule is or how dirty my apron gets while cleaning up all the messes, I wouldn’t trade this life for any other (she says as she pours yet another cup of coffee).

I began blogging two years ago as a way to keep track of the healthier recipes I was creating for my family. You see, I have struggled with my weight all my life, and I decided that if I was going to have a long and happy life with my husband and son, I had to make some changes. So the blog was a great way for me to share my story, hold myself accountable, and reach out to other women walking the same path.
 
At the time, when I started,  I never dreamed blogging would take me where it has. In all honesty, I wasn’t even sure I how long I would be able to keep it up with it with all I had going on. But, fast forward two years and here I am still blogging and working on getting healthier by the day. I have met some amazing people and been blessed by them all.
 
I am so glad I took that leap and decided to start blogging that day because the friendships that I have made and the wonderful lessons I have learned along the way are priceless.  Oh, and look at me now, a calendar girl, Mrs. October! Who would have ever thought I would say that? Certainly now, this girl. I am grateful for this chance to share more with you all as the month goes along.
 

White Chocolate Chip and Almond Cookies – Cooking with Kids

White Chocolate Chip and Almond Cookies

If you want a cookie to impress, you have come to the right place with these white chocolate chip and almond oatmeal cookies. Several months ago, the Hubs picked up some delicious oatmeal cookies from a special bakery he visited during a work trip. The man knows when he leaves me with these children for a week, he better show back up with something g-o-o-o-d!

As I ate my delicious round of sugary goodness, I considered the flavors. I decided this was a cookie I must try to recreate on my own. And that was when the recipe for these white chocolate chip and almond oatmeal cookies was born. I used my basic oatmeal cookie recipe as the base and just guessed my way through the ratios for the white chocolate and the almonds. READ MORE…

Turquoise Door and Spring Porch

turquoise door

A turquoise door, people. This girl finally got her turquoise door!

It’s amazing how fast two years flies. A few weeks ago, The Hubs noted that the following day would mark two years to the date since we moved in our house.

The next day, I drove into the driveway after work and gazed at the amazing, bright and happy turquoise door that greeted me from the front porch. My sweet Hubs had spent his day off painting the turquoise door I had been dreaming of since that day our realtor had taken us to see this house. READ MORE…

Sausage and Cheese Tortellini Soup

Sausage and Cheese Tortellini Soup

by Blogger of the Month, Amy Gramlich

As my husband says, you can’t go wrong with cheese tortellini. Earlier this week, I couldn’t decide which of the sausage and cheese tortellini soup recipes on Pinterest I wanted to try. None seemed healthy in any form or fashion so I couldn’t use that as a determinant. But delicious? All sounded highly delicious. The two recipes I was volleying between are this sausage and tortellini soup from Party in My Kitchen and this Crockpot sausage and tortellini soup from Little Fellows. READ MORE…