‘There is freedom’ (a few thots about Independence Day and our nation)

I received a $25 gift certificate from Family Christian in exchange for a post about the Fourth of July. All editorial direction, opinions, and thoughts are my own. All the photos are mine and all the graphics are pictures from creative commons with my text overlay. The text is obviously from the Bible.

2 Corinthians 3-17New International

 

My heart is heavy but hopeful as I write this blog. One would think that a blog about the Fourth of July should be all sparkle and fireworks but that’s not where my heart is right now. I’m asking for forgiveness in advance because this will be one of those blogs where I ramble and share my heart, not one where I have tons of pretty pictures and happy thoughts.

My heart has been increasingly heavy at how far we have fallen out of God’s will as a nation. No, not fallen. We’ve chosen to move farther and farther to where I don’t think we can really call ourselves a Christian nation anymore. It feels hopeless. It feels infuriating. It feels almost dangerous and threatening.  Continue Reading →

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4 #NWARK restaurants I’ve tried recently that you can’t miss

John and I really enjoy going out to eat, especially when we can try new (to us) places or new dishes at some of our favorite spots. In the last few months, I’ve tried several places in Northwest Arkansas that I think are definitely worth going back for more. Oddly enough, most of them did not have reliable websites that I could find but I will come back and add those in if I find them.

These are four restaurants I recommend you try for a date or even the whole family. Continue Reading →

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A glimpse at my first WordCamp Kansas City #WCKC

WCKC2015Logo-HiRez-1024x830

 

My first trip of the summer concluded last weekend and I had a grand time! I experienced some difficulties, but am choosing to see them as part of the overall experience instead of a big negative. I shared in a recent blog about three trips I’m planning this summer and so far, the summer is off to a great start.

This first trip was a business trip to WordCamp Kansas City. WordCamps are held all over the globe and are conferences designed for WordPress users. This blog you’re reading right now is using WordPress (it’s a content management system for websites and blogs).

I was a speaker and also a participant in WordCamp KC. I’ve been involved with WordCamp Fayetteville (coming Aug. 1) for six years but this was my first time attending WordCamp Kansas City. I loved the city, the conference, the food, and all the new people I met.

I have tons of photos so I tried grouping them in collages to make this easier.  Continue Reading →

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Hitting the road this summer with Walmart Family Mobile

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #Save4Summer #CollectiveBias

 

Walmart Family Mobile will make it easier for me to afford several trips this summer.

 

Remember when you were a kid and one of the first writing assignments to start the school year was some essay about “How I Spent My Summer.” It always seemed a little anti-climatic to me so today I’d thought I’d talk about my plans that are upcoming this summer. Now of course when I was a kid, I didn’t have to care how the summer adventures were financed. But as an adult, I have to save money if I want to do something special. One way I’m doing that is with Walmart Family Mobile’s phone service. WFM is making the whole summer fun thing easier all the way around!

I plan on filling this summer with many mini-adventures with John including day trips to some of our favorite places. We enjoy eating out together and trying new places. I’m pretty excited about three slightly bigger adventures coming this summer. I have some kind of trip planned in June, July and August. Like any adventure, it’s important to have the full adventure but not spend the proverbial arm and a leg when doing it.  Continue Reading →

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Ever heard of chocolate camp? Kamp Kyya is the coolest camp I’ve ever been to

Disclosure: Kyya Chocolate is one of my business clients but they are my friends first. I coordinated a blogger event for them to help get the word out about Kamp Kyya. I also participated in the event and was compensated in the same way as the other bloggers in exchange for writing a blog post: with lots of amazing chocolate. All opinions here are my own.

Kamp Kyya from Kyya Chocolate in Elm Springs, AR is the coolest summer camp ever.

If I had children, I think I’d be the kind of parent who’d encourage experiences that were filled with education but also incredibly fun. I personally learn better from hands-on experiences and I remember it better when I had fun doing it.

If I had children, I would send them to Kamp Kyya–and not just because they’d come home with about $40 worth of chocolate by the end of the week. Kamp Kyya is the brain child of my friends Rick and Cindy Boosey, owners of Kyya Chocolate. Their manufacturing facility is in Elm Springs, Ark.

It started June 1 and runs through July. Kamp Kyya gives kids ages 6 to 16 the opportunity to become “junior chocolatiers” by learning (and doing) the entire bean to bar chocolate-making process. They come home with so much more than chocolate.  Continue Reading →

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Open-faced Greek chicken gyro with Alexia onion rings

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SpringIntoFlavor #CollectiveBias

Alexia onion rings are a fantastic addition to any Greek gyro or open-faced Greek flatbread sandwich.

 

Have you read the Dr. Suess book Green Eggs and Ham? It talks about trying something that you thought you hated but hadn’t really ever tried before. As it turns out, you might like it! That’s how it was for me and Greek gyro sandwiches. We tried them a few years ago and have since tried several versions at restaurants across Northwest Arkansas. This weekend, we decided to try making our own with natural ingredients such as Alexia onion rings.

As it turned out, I had such a pile of ingredients that mine didn’t fold well. No worries! This dish is delicious as an open-faced Greek gyro or if you don’t want the carbs in the flatbread you can increase the veggies (especially the spring mix) and turn it into a Greek-style salad.

No matter how you eat it, hot. diggity. dog. This dish is healthy and delicious!

I first set out to find the traditional Greek lamb/beef mixture but realized that chicken would be so much more practical and just as yummy!  Continue Reading →

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Something From Nothing Paint Parties are relaxing fun with a bit of deep reflection

Disclosure: My friend Sarah let me participate in a paint party with her new business for free in exchange for social media amplification. I also offered to write a blog and I’m glad I did! All opinions are my own.

Sarah is a dear friend who recently started the business Something From Nothing Paint Parties. This is her and me after I joined one of her classes!

Sarah is a dear friend who recently started the business Something From Nothing Paint Parties. This is her and me after I joined one of her classes!

 

I first met Sarah when we co-workers at the same marketing agency. Both of us have gone our separate ways and each have our own business but our friendship remains. I really value her wisdom, listening ear and kindness. I also always admire her artistic talent and frequently refer clients to her if they need graphic design help.

I was so proud of her recently when she announced a new business called Something From Nothing Paint Parties. You’ve heard me talk about paint parties where everyone goes to the same place and paints the same picture even if they have zero artistic inclination (like me). Well, Sarah takes a whole new approach to this idea and instead of requiring people to visit a place of business, she brings the party to you. In two hours, she can help you create your very own piece of art.  Continue Reading →

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Don’t want to chop veggies to make salsa? Try my No Chop Salsa with Hunts diced tomatoes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HuntsFreshTwists #CollectiveBias

No Chop Salsa

 

I love making salsa and pico de gallo but let’s be honest. It takes a really long time to chop all those veggies plus the onions, peppers and cilantro usually leave a lingering smell on my hands. I still crave handmade salsa and want it to be something I can make on a whim. Thanks to Hunts Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Garlic, I was able to make a really tasty, quick salsa that didn’t require me to chop or slice a thing. Plus, it’s all ingredients you can keep in your pantry until it’s time to make that no chop salsa. Continue Reading →

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Learnin’ to talk good at Toastmasters

Toastmasters collage

When I was in high school, I was a letterman. You might be thinking “how could a person with a disability earn a letter?” I certainly did earn it but it wasn’t in athletics. I lettered three of four years in forensics. I did pretty well in prose (reading a story) but excelled in public speaking.

I lettered in forensics three of four years in high school.

I lettered in forensics three of four years in high school.

I didn’t do any real public speaking again until a few years ago when I volunteered with a friend to speak at a WordCamp. I started leading other seminars including topics such as disability awareness and blogging for small businesses. I felt confident in what I was saying but didn’t feel that I conveyed confidence because I would lose track of what I was saying or have a lot of “ums” and other crutch words.

I had heard about this program called Toastmasters several times and last fall, I decided to join. The first time I heard about Toastmasters, I thought it was a snobby wine drinking club. Boy, was I wrong! I later heard about it again from someone I worked for and realized it was an interesting club that encouraged leadership skills and improving one’s public speaking skills.

Toastmasters membership application

So far, I’ve really enjoyed it. My club is almost an hour’s drive (worked better for me at the time) but it’s worth it. I enjoy the challenge and appreciate the friendships I’ve made. I’ve even won a couple of awards!  Continue Reading →

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First time at GiveCamp NWA

GiveCamp Logo

 

Last weekend, I had an exhausting but exhilarating experience at camp. Instead of singing around the campfire and making S’mores, we gathered around our laptops and made websites.

GiveCampNWA is a local version of an organization that gathers website folks together for one weekend and they work together to give chosen nonprofit organizations a free website. They recruit volunteer web developers, graphic designers and wordsmiths and place them on teams. Each team is assigned a different nonprofit that was chosen to receive a website.  There were 30-40 volunteers and 10 nonprofits for this year’s GiveCamp NWA.  Continue Reading →

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