Category: Blogger of the Month Feature

Homemade Honey Lemon Sore Throat Lollipops

by Amanda Fiveash, Miss December 2017

I do love the look of fall and then winter.  The colors of fall are beautiful with the crisp, cool nights.  The snow makes everything brighter, even on cloudy days.  During the cold months of winter, I love the sun.  Just like the cold that lingers outside, it is just that time of year when runny noses, sore throats and coughing seem all too abundant as well.

When my throat has a tingle or that morning dryness seems to be hanging on, I often turn to a throat lozenge.  Have you looked at the package lately of the ingredients?  They are full of all kinds of things I do not like to give my kids.  There are some natural options available but my kids are not big fans.  The solution, make my own!  Why not, they are super simple and you can customize them in so many ways.

Now let me warn you, once you make these for your kids, whether they are big or little, they may just pretend to have a throat tickle more often!  (Just warning you!)  You need just a few simple ingredients for your base and then you can customize them however you would like.

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When You are So Done…But God Isn’t

by Jamie Smith

Today at 4:16 a.m., I turn 40 years old.

That feels weird for me to type. I don’t think 40 is old, in fact, I have never even thought of my parents as old. But when I was growing up, the general medical consensus was that most kids with my level of Spina Bifida wouldn’t live too far into middle age. Combine that mentality with the fact that I was once more than 200 pounds overweight and continue to be 100 pounds overweight, my auto-immune diseases, and my general clumsiness, making it to 40 years old seemed preposterous.

It seems that God isn’t finished with me yet. In fact, this is a message he’s been telling me all year.

I have a story to tell you. READ MORE…

Let’s Get Crafty with Penguins

by Amanda Fivash, Miss December 2017
 
With the chill of the approaching winter in the air and reading several stories about these amazing animals I decided it would be fun to do a penguin craft to go along with our school lessons.  Penguins are such amazing creatures and so much fun to learn about.

During our homeschooling afternoons my children love to craft.  These cute penguins take the fun of watercolor painting to create a Northern Lights feel with fun shapes that your kids can customize.  You can mix and match or use it to teach your little ones shapes.  When I created this craft my two oldest were only four and five year olds, and they loved to practice their cutting skills.  If glue was involved, even better!  So grab your favorite book and get ready to get crafty.  

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Holiday Music and Movies

When you are worn out from all the holiday shopping and such it’s nice to just sit down and relax. Rebekah Elizabeth has put together a great list of must-see holiday movies. She has also built a great holiday playlist on Spotify. Go check out her recommendations. READ MORE… 

Dairy-Free Snickerdoodle Cookies

By Amanda Fivash, Miss December 2017

Baking is something that we love to do together in our house.  Maybe it is because we enjoy eating sweets (guilty!) but I think even more, is that the children are old enough now to start really helping and they love telling Daddy they made them.

We have our favorite cookie recipes that we have over the last few years altered to be a dairy-free and today we decided to try out another favorite. The girls love cinnamon toast and have recently been enjoying anything with cinnamon so we gave our Snickerdoodle recipe a makeover to make it into a dairy free cookie recipe.

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Miss December 2017 – Amanda Fiveash

Hello, Y’all! Thank you so much for the opportunity to introduce myself to all of you. I’m a native Arkansan but have lived in Mississippi, Utah and Florida before returning back to Arkansas in 2004 with my husband to create a home and start our family.  Since then our family of two has grown into a family of six. We live in North Central Arkansas in a small town full of folk music and friendly neighbors. 
 
I started blogging back in 2009 as an outlet for myself, as my husband was undergoing chemotherapy and my mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I certainly didn’t intend for anyone to find my blog and a few months in I quickly learned just how fast things online could be shared. My blog went from an average of twenty page views to six thousand in a single day! It was shocking for me to realize that there were real people out there going through many of the same things who needed to also find comfort and someone they felt they could relate to. As my life changed over the years, so has my blog. Now I use my blog to share about our adventures in homeschooling, life with four children, family-friendly recipes (many of which are allergen friendly), our love of being crafty and family travel. 
 
Over the years, blogging has given me amazing opportunities. Through blogging, I have been able to take my family on amazing adventures. I’ve met so many amazing women online that over the years have become friends. The biggest blessing has been that over time, I’ve been able to become a full-time stay at home mom and homeschool my children. There are many tough moments when deadlines loom and life can get in the way, but blogging has been a true blessing for my family. 
 
Five random facts about myself:
1. I have a serious love for dark chocolate.
2. Having my hands in the dirt is one of the most relaxing moments for me. 
3. Spring is my favorite season as everything in the world is being new life. 
4. My ultimate bucket list vacation would be to take my family on a cross-country road trip. 
5. I love making anything and everything homemade. 
 
My blog is not Pinterest perfect because my life isn’t.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’d love for you to join us on our crazy adventures over at Our Homemade Life.  You can also follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.

Oark General Store

by Brenda Embry, Miss November 2017

Traveling by motorcycle has become one of our favorite ways to explore Arkansas.  We love the fresh air, sunshine (hopefully!), back roads and small towns we find.  One of our favorite destinations is a small cafe in the backwoods of the Ozark National Forest.

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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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