Category: Blogger of the Month

Miss June 2017 – Renee Birchfield

Hi, ladies! I am so honored to be blogger of the month! I feel fancy and the need to make a sash to wear all month. I want to start by sharing a little about myself. I am a born and raised Arkansasan from Springdale now in Conway. I went to the University of Arkansas to study Food Science and was one of the first to graduate with a Food and Culinary Science degree. I am now going back to school to get my masters in teaching. I am a Harry Potter nerd, and really a nerd in general. I love Chinese food. I love just chilling and hanging out with my husband. Amazingly I have been blogging for three years next month, and I am so glad I started!

Many of you know I started out at Married and Hungry where I blogged about marriage and food. I started blogging because life was changing. I was getting married and moving for the first time ever 3 hours away from home and thought it would be a way to keep me connected to family and to find new friends. Luckily I found ARWB and the amazing community and didn’t feel so alone.

I started Married and Hungry because the whole time I was engaged and planning my wedding I couldn’t find resources for new wives who just didn’t want to mess it up. We were both fresh graduates and still kids and there weren’t blogs with tips, ideas, or thoughts on what to expect. So I decided I would be that place to share some marriage tips as I figured things out and if nothing else a place where new wives could come and know they weren’t alone in the tricky moments.

I blogged there for about a year and a half. I really enjoyed many of the posts that I did there but as I wrote more I started to feel like I wasn’t being authentic enough and I wasn’t ready to put concrete life examples for the world to see. So I switched to what I loved talking about the most, food. So in February of 2016 If Spoons Could Talk was born. This time I knew more about what I was doing and got it started better and made a site that I am so proud of. In a matter of months, it was doing better than Married and Hungry did the whole time it was up. I still love this site and talking about all things food.

Sadly, I have gotten more and more relaxed as far as posting because life has changed a lot for me and I can’t do all the things all the time. I started out with three days a week posting and stuck with it for a long time. Over the summer months, I got to a point where food was the very last thing I wanted to think about so I took a couple weeks off then went to twice a week. Over the last few months, I have been happy to get one post a week out. I have decided to go back to school and get my master of teaching so I can stop subbing and be a full-time teacher. But with food being one of my true loves I will never let If Spoons Could Talk fall off to the side.

Be sure to stop by this month as I get to share more with you. Don’t forget to leave me a comment and say hi! You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest as If Spoons Could Talk and on Twitter as Spoons Could Talk.  And of course over at If Spoons Could Talk.

Hangin’ Tough with Monika Rued

By Monika Rued, Miss May 2017

When Arkansas Women Bloggers asked me to be Miss May 2017, I was super stoked. And when I saw the theme is “Hangin’ Tough,” I thought it must be fate because this has been on my mind for some time now.

I’m a rock climber and immediately thought I could write about climbing and pushing through fear. I’d reluctantly admit that I’ve wept softly both during and after climbs as the adrenaline coursed through my body; that the fear of falling is much less than the fear of failing for me. I was going to be self-deprecating and relatable. I planned to make rock solid (see what I did there?) analogies about life, conquering fear, and finding your “climbing” partners you trust to help “get through this thing called life.”

 

I was going to show you this picture of me climbing a crazy hard 75-foot route, “Pepsi Challenge,” at Mount Magazine State Park; a route that is both mentally and physically challenging. OK, I’m still sharing this picture. Just give it to me y’all.

But, then I kept hearing this little voice in my head that wasn’t what I should share with this opportunity. That maybe I should dive deeper and share something more personal and outside of my comfort zone. I don’t know about you all but I hate it when that happens! I had a plan; a good plan that would be easy breezy for me to write. But instead, after prayer and asking several times, “Are you sure God? Really sure?” I’m going down and a different path.

Let’s think about this a minute. Answer these questions: What does a woman who “hangs tough” look like? What does she sound like? And most important, what does she act like?  Do you see yourself? We all know steel magnolias in the South. Women who get things done. Women who make herding cats daily look easy. Women who have Tim Gunn moments frequently and “make it work.” Women who seem to rally at all the right times.

My mother is one of these women. Someone you want in your corner. Someone who makes everything better. Someone who invited family to live with us when they needed a safe place to fall. Someone who—before my stepfather passed away—I had only seen cry a handful of times. She was always able to hide it from us, so we wouldn’t be burdened, afraid, or feel unsafe. If anyone was able to “hang tough” it was my mother.

Photo used with permission from Wren Bird Arts

Me on the other hand? Not so much when it comes to sucking it up. My tears will not be defeated! And I’m an ugly crier; you can tell I’ve been crying long after the tears have dried up. I found those hankies on Etsy and need that full pack. (Link’s in photo if you do too.) I’m a ginger and what starts as a pink rash spreading up my neck to my face and ears, ends up as red splotches all over my face for a good 30 minutes. It’s embarrassing. I actually feel disappointed in myself for not being able to control my emotions, a lack of “emotional intelligence.”

Grace is a funny thing. We seem to wrap everyone else in it but ourselves. I’m not sure what hangin’ tough looks like in the real world anymore. Maybe it’s doing the best you can in the moment. Maybe it’s cutting yourself some slack and letting go of guilt and regret. Maybe it’s knowing that if you’re granted a second chance with tomorrow, you have a chance to be better. Maybe it’s just finishing putting on your mascara after you poke yourself in the eye with the wand! Maybe it’s all of these things.

Miss May 2017 – Monika Rued

Hi there! I am Monika Rued, your Miss May 2017. I’ve never really been into pageants but I must say, I like the sound of Miss May. In my mind, I’m wearing a dainty diamond tiara and a satin sash with “Miss May 2017” in a tasteful script font. I also am completely put together like so many of my glorious Southern girlfriends. You know what I’m talking about, right? Showered, shaved, lubed up, hair, make up, eyebrows waxed, eyelashes curled, mani and pedi, and form fitted dress over my Spanx power panty that shows off my curves without making me look like a sausage casing. ALL AT ONCE. Yeah, baby! I said that in my Austin Powers accent too. I’m really feeling this fantasy, y’all!

In reality though, I can’t remember the last time I was completely put together. If we’re being honest, ever really. I’m the kind of girl (yes, girl…it’s all about context) who paints her own nails last minute, runs a polish remover-soaked Q-Tip around the sloppy edges, and tries her best to hold them in front of the car AC vents on the way without hitting a bump and wrecking them before I get there. The kind of girl who has a personal relationship with dry shampoo.

I’m the kind of girl who loves sharing my imperfect life with others, who in return reassure me I’m not alone. That there are other Southern women living among us who have hairy legs and dry feet even into 80 degree hot, humid weather, hiding under pants and closed toe shoes, among other more critical things. Blogging connects us. And I’m happy to connect with all of you this month.

My personal blog is on hiatus right now, but professionally, I’m blogging for Arkansas State Parks. I’m the public information officer, manage our blog, ride herd over our websites, newsletters, and social media. I’ve been with State Parks two years, and am blown away daily by our team and incredible parks.

Our blog is an interesting mix of blogs written by a variety of people about everything from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) legacy to what life would really be like as Scarlett O’Hara. I enjoy graphic design, photography, and videography, and the creativity it allows in storytelling. One of my first vlogs for ASP is about one of my passions, rock climbing. And I shared my authentic experience. No edits to make me look like an unafraid badass! Check out the Arkansas State Parks blog and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can follow me personally @monikarued on social.

I grew up in my career at THV 11, the CBS affiliate in Little Rock, becoming the station’s first online producer and digital manager. I managed a community site for moms and started doing weekly on-air family segments. I stayed about a decade, which is like dog years in TV! But the connection this gave me to our communities and other moms changed my life forever. Not to mention I had my son, Pierce, during this time and loved having so many women in my tribe. Many thanks to Arkansas Women Bloggers for giving me the opportunity to connect to our community again in a personal way as Miss May. Yeah, baby! (I’m doing the pageant wave right now, with that elbow tucked so the only thing waving is my hand. Sorry, not sorry.)

The Best of Rebekah Hearn

SO sad, today is my last post here for Miss April. Don’t worry though, be sure to visit my blog to see new posts as I write them 😉

Vegas NYE Recap: For New Year’s 2016, my BFF’s Ricci & Jenn and I, went to Las Vegas. We attended the Maroon 5 concert, which was a blast. Be sure to visit this post for restaurant recommendations!

Megaphone Summit 2016 Recap: Megaphone Summit is an influencer conference that is such a blessing to attend. This year’s summit is right around the corner, so be sure to sign up! I will be there again this year.

2017: The Year of Focus: I’m still working on my word of the year this year. Be sure to head over and see why I chose this as my word for 2017.

Three Girly Things to do in OKC: Since Oklahoma is so close to me; I headed to OKC for a weekend of pampering. I give you some good suggestions if you want to get away for the weekend, too.

Thank you so much for allowing me to present these posts on Arkansas Women Bloggers this month. Be sure to follow along on social media and my blog to keep up with me 😉

A Day in the Life of Rebekah

By Miss April, Rebekah Hearn

DISCLAIMER: My daily (weekday) life is busy and chaotic. 😉

I have a pretty similar schedule from week to week. I rotate every other week. Those two weeks look like this:

Monday-Wednesday: 9am-6pm
Thursday/Friday: 12pm-5pm
Saturday: 9am-1pm
Sunday: off

Monday-Wednesday: 9am-6pm
Thursday: 8am-6pm
Friday/Saturday/Sunday: off

As I have said before, I work at two different (adorable) community pharmacies. I absolutely love my job! The main reason I took this job after graduation last year was because I have every other weekend off. This allows me to work on my blog and get rested up. Being a pharmacist is super busy from day to day. Not only does it wear me out physically, but it takes a lot of brain power to be “in the zone” all day. I take my job very seriously and want to ensure that my patients get the absolute best job from me possible.

On days that I work in the town 45 minutes from my house, I usually get up around 7:30am or so. Let’s be honest, I would love to get up at 6am and curl my hair and dress cute, but for the most part that usually doesn’t happen. At work, I am usually the only pharmacist working. I have a variety of tasks, and I can promise you this: pharmacists do not only put pills in a bottle. For me, I take every single prescription very seriously. I ensure that doses are within a range that I think is acceptable, I calculate doses for liquid medications, I look at other medications to be sure there are no major interactions, and I counsel patients on new prescriptions. I absolutely love being able to talk with my patients. There is nothing better than hearing a patient tell you that you helped them get better or you made their day when they walked into your store to smiles and a “Hello, how are you”. I also love community pharmacy because we know most of our patients by name. I am blessed to work in a job that allows me to spend extra time talking with the patients if need be. These people aren’t just a number to me, they’ve become like family.

At the other community pharmacy I work in, I spend a lot of the time in the non-sterile compounding lab. If you’ve never heard of compounding, this is where the pharmacist creates a medication for you from scratch using individual ingredients. For example, I can make a liquid form from a tablet or capsule. I can also create a topical cream that can be applied to limit side effects if certain medications were taken by mouth. The opportunities are endless, and it’s so rewarding!

When I get home from work, I am usually pretty tired. On Tuesdays, you can find me watching my favorite TV show of all time, NCIS. Otherwise, I usually eat dinner and then go straight to take a bath. Yes, I am the girl who takes a bath every single night. I probably only miss 10-15 days per year. It’s my oasis where I can relax and unwind after a long day at work. I try to use some sort of relaxing product every night. Whether it’s a bath bomb, facemask, or hair mask, I usually try to get in as much relaxation as possible. I then get into bed around 10pm and watch a recorded show or two. If I’m super tired, I may just get in a few minutes of Friends or Seinfeld 😉

Well, there you have it. That’s a day in my life. It’s super busy but exciting all at the same time. Weekends are when I write for the blog and work on blog projects! I’m glad I could show you a day in my weekday life though!

Rebekah Hearn: Larger Than Life

Hey y’all, it’s Rebekah again! I am excited to share my thoughts on this month’s theme, “Larger Than Life”. *cue the Backstreet Boys song*

I can remember probably around 2000 when I went of my first mission trip to Honduras with my church. That is probably when I first fell in love with international travel. I have seen several places that I would consider to be “Larger Than Life”, so I wanted to share those with you today.

Swiss Alps: Switzerland is hands down my favorite country I’ve ever visited. I highly recommend going on a cable car ride through the Alps. I promise, it’s the purest air that I have ever breathed. It was just something about being able to relax in Switzerland that gave me a calming thought as I visited a couple of summers ago. I cannot wait to go back! The views are breathtaking!

The Vatican: WOW is one word that comes to mind. The Vatican is MASSIVE. I grew up in a small town and a small church. Don’t get me wrong; I love my hometown and my home church. However, it was truly impressive to see such a sprawling church and location in Rome. The architecture and design was like nothing I had ever seen before. I was speechless as I walked through the doors into this place. I learned so much about Italian culture and why so many people visit the Vatican every year.

Shanghai, China

The Bund is an awesome waterfront walkway and area in the heart of Shanghai. When I visited a couple of Christmases ago, it was easy to see why people love this city. The lights shine bright and the scenes are beautiful. Be sure to take lots of pictures of Pearl Tower. If you know me at all, you know I love shopping. You can find just about anything you’re looking for in Shanghai. It’s so awesome to be able to see other cultures and how they go about their daily lives.

You see, the world truly is “larger than life,” and I can’t wait to take more trips and explore. See you next week for a day in the life of Rebekah 😉

Rebekah Hearn – Miss April 2017

Happy April, y’all! I’m Rebekah & I’m stoked to be your Miss April here on ARWB. I love me some April, because April showers bring May flowers 😉 More like, April is the time of thunderstorms in Arkansas, and I’m a wannabe storm chaser! But really, I thought I would introduce myself and let you get to know me a little bit.

I’m from Northwest Arkansas, and graduated from pharmacy school last year. I’m a nerd, and I love school. That’s probably why I chose to get an MBA as well. I joke that if I could, I would go back to school and study meteorology. You never know! I’m always working! I work in two adorable community pharmacies, and I feel that is where God knew I needed to work when I graduated. I have been blessed to move back to my hometown where I grew up and lived my entire life.

When I’m not working, I try to travel and see as much of the world as possible. I have visited Europe and Asia with my family. I have also traveled to Central & South America on mission trips with my church. While there are several places I want to visit in the US, I love getting to see other cultures in the world. I absolutely loved Germany when I visited. Since my ancestors were from Germany, I felt a tie to that country. It is always so interesting to watch other people and see how they live their everyday lives. I hope to visit all of the 7 continents one day; although, I think Antarctica might be a little difficult 😉

Why did I start blogging? I really don’t have an amazing story like many bloggers, but I knew that I wanted a place to share my life, travels, and obsession with beauty products. I wanted it to be a place where I could keep track of my favorite places I’d been and favorite products I’d been using. I would have never dreamed that I would meet one of my best friends, Ricci, through blogging. We joke all the time, because the second time we ever even saw each other, we were taking a cross-country road trip to see another one of our blogging friends who we had never even met in person. I think God works in mysterious ways. He knew that I would meet some of my best friends through blogging, and I talk to these girls every single day. We have taken several trips with our friend Jenn since then. We have been to Charlotte, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Nashville. And we aren’t done yet! We have several other trips in the works.

I’m super excited to be your Miss April around here 😉 I can’t wait to show you more about my life and how I balance a full-time job and blogging. Since I finally don’t have to study for hard tests anymore, I can’t wait to jump back into blogging more and more. I can’t wait to document my travels and share products from the beauty world that work for me.

As the month progresses, be sure to check back for more posts from me. In the mean time, be sure to follow me on social: Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’m really trying to get into the Insta-story game, so be sure to watch those! For more trip reviews/recaps and beauty advice, head over to Rebekah Elizabeth. I’m also on BlogLovin’, so be sure to follow me there as well. Buckle up & enjoy the ride with me!

The Best of Jodi

Hey guys! This is my final post as March Blogger of the Month. Thank you so much for allowing me to share with you. If you blog, or are interesting in blogging and are not a member of Arkansas Women Bloggers, I encourage you to check us out. The conferences are a blast and I always come home with a wealth of information.

Today I am going to take you back in time. My posts are somewhat dated, but that reminds me why I started blogging in the first place. There may be moments you hope to forget, but there are so many more that you want to capture and hold on to. Writing the words that go with life’s pictures is one of the best ways of doing that. My babies are growing right before my eyes. I’ve really enjoyed looking back and reading these older posts and I hope you will too. Taking a moment to read these stories was all it took to get me back in the moment. It’s fun to see the “then” and compare it to the “now”.

Sometimes You Gotta Dance 

Evenings at home with littles can be hectic. This particular evening turned out to be one of those.

 

 

Silent Night, Holy…SMOKES 

A night and smell we will never forget.

 

 

Outstanding in the Field 

I have learned so much since this experience. This dinner may have sparked my love for farm-to-table and truly caring about knowing where my food comes from. I absolutely adored this event and hope to go again someday.

 

 

When Life Gives You Pimientos 

I may or may not still feel the same about pre-shredded cheese, but it’s good stuff either way.

 

 

Overwhelmed with Awesome 

Oh goodness, how things have changed in the social media world since my very first AWB conference! But so many things are tried and true and relationships have grown. For me, it took going out on a limb to go to this conference. And guess what? The limb didn’t break.

 

Although we are several years down the road, our family experiences similar adventures and hair-pulling moments. As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. (Yes, I had to Google who said that. How did we survive before Google?)

Have a happy HEALTHY day!

A Day in the Life of Jodi

 

“Mom, I need socks!”

“Can you braid my hair?”

“Watch where you step, there’s doodle in the hallway.”

“Will someone let Lucy out?”

“Will someone let Pepper in? Wait! She’s covered in grass!”

“What can I eat?”

“Who made God?”

“Eeeeew! Somebody forgot to flush!”

When hanging out at the Coffee house, you may hear any of these statements once or multiple times throughout the day.

While being a stay-at-home mom, my schedule changes day to day. I have made myself move to a paper planned life, otherwise, I believe myself and my children would miss out on several activities. It’s hard for me to describe a day in the life at this stage. Each day is different. When not working a regularly scheduled job, life is somewhat on the fly. Of course, I do schedule and plan activities, but I do feel like many days I’m “flying by the seat of my pants”.

Some days I get my workout done before I wake my crew, and some days I workout after getting the kiddos to school. Whatever the case, I take pride in making sure everyone starts his or her day by eating breakfast. I wish I could insert “healthy” before the word breakfast, but some days that is not the case. Nourishment. Calories. Energy. That’s what I’m hoping…

I mentioned before that being a stay-at-home mom was not something I planned on doing. It has been a blessing in so many ways. I appreciate the days that I pick up the girls and hear about what is going on at school. Count me in for field trips and school parties! The many hours I spend working on the farmers’ market effort wouldn’t be a possibility if I were working outside the home. My husband’s office is in town and we are able to go to lunch together once or twice a week. These are all things I try my best not to take for granted.

I also work to maintain my professional licensure. This may or may not consist of doing my required hours of continuing education right before the deadline.

One of my main focuses this past year was training for an Ironman race – Ironman Arizona. Initially, the training distances were not long, and if I was able to get the workout in early, it didn’t really impact the day. The swim workouts required an hour round-trip each time, and I would typically do two swim workouts weekly. Closer to race day, the bike training would require anywhere from 6-8 hours. This was often on the weekend. I had a lot of mommy-guilt, but I will hand it to my crew – they were troopers. There were times I would take the girls to the pool with me and bribe them with snacks and activities and threaten them not to kill each other while I was in the water. There were times that I would have to join them later instead of going all together to this and that. There were many times I would have to go sans makeup and hair pulled back when I would normally dry my hair and put on make-up. And they loved me through it.

Yes, day-to-day life is fast and furious. I’m hanging on with all my might to take each day as it comes and holding on to precious memories.

Besides, sleep is overrated, right?

 

I Want It That Way

by Jodi Coffee, Miss March 2016

I have come to accept that I have a type-A personality living in a type-B world. Maybe it’s selective type A-ism. I don’t know. I thought I would share five things that I want MY way. This is not an end-all be-all list, and tomorrow’s list may be different (I reserve that right), but here you go.

Number one: toilet paper

This is an issue we have all seen and know well.

The paper rolling under is unacceptable and must be corrected immediately.

Number two: cooking in the kitchen

This is a matter I have had to work on since welcoming the littles into the kitchen for hands-on experience. It’s almost as if I need to do these together-activities with my hands behind my back. It is so challenging for me to let go of certain steps. But when I hear myself directing them out-loud, it does seem micro-managing and ridiculous. I’m working on this, folks.

Number three: laundry

Not a fan of this gift that keeps on giving. Of course, it must be done.

I line-dry all dry-fit/high tech materials, delicates and the girls’ school uniform shirts. I turn things inside out and button when needed. Nothing too complicated, but I cannot accept my hub’s offer to dump all of the clothes from the washer to the dryer. Just cannot do it.

Number four: washing dishes

I hand wash a lot of our dishes. Cooking is one of my specialties, so I have found it faster to wash them quickly and have them ready to go versus waiting for a full load of dishes to run the washer. Oh, the dishwasher gets used, but certain items never go in. I always hand wash my pots and pans, wooden spoons, knives, Tervis tumblers, measuring utensils…okay, so my list is too long. See. You just gotta let me do it. Thankfully, the hubs is my dish drying partner. Love that guy.

Number five: mug matters

In regards to drinking coffee and tea, the mug matters.

Coffee at home:

Coffee on the go:

Tea (green tea + honey = heaven):

 

Please don’t think I’m crazy. Remember? Type A-isms. My life is far from perfect and although I have preferences, I try and embrace the crazy. The spills, the eggshells, the towels folded in a ball. Yes, I may re-fold it later, but in the moment, I love it. I hold in disbelief daily that three little girls want to be just like me. And yes, I accept coffee in any shape or form.