A Weekend of Abundance {Megaphone Summit}

Megaphone Summit

When I sat down to write out some thoughts on my experience at Megaphone Summit, I noticed that there was a theme to what was coming out on paper. The theme was one of abundance. Usually, I leave these kind of conferences feeling overwhelmed, even more unsure of myself and doubting that I have what it takes to be on the same playing field with the other attendees. This time I didn’t feel that way at all. Instead, I feel like I have been filled up all the way to the brim, and then some.

Dinner out at Taste of Thai

My heart is filled up with the many new connections friendships I made, not to mention the opportunity to see, chat with and hug on many of my “blogger” friends. I think that it’s time to drop the qualifier. These folks are my friends, plain and simple, and I love them! The community I feel when I am around these women (and a few good men) is the reason that I decided I couldn’t miss out on the conference this year. Pictured above are two of those new friends I met at the conference, Lacie from Easy Peasy Pleasy, and Renee from If Spoons Could Talk (if I were a food blogger I would be kicking myself for not coming up with that first!). On night two of the conference we had a chance to go out and dine around downtown Fayetteville and we made pigs of ourselves at Taste of Thai! Buddha clearly enjoyed our entertaining conversation (You might be a blogger if you pick your table based on where you’ll get the best photos).

The Unexpected mural in Fayetteville
The Unexpected mural in Fayetteville

I am filled up with knowledge. Knowledge that is technical and has useful application to my blog, and knowledge that will help me tell my story even better than before. I am filled up with ideas for posts, organizing my blog schedule, social media, collaborations, SEO, and ideas for stepping away from all of the screens to cultivate my own real happy (thanks for that, Jacqueline Wolven)….so many ideas. However, like I said before, I don’t feel overwhelmed by this knowledge. I feel empowered and ready to get to work making my blog the best it can be, and the best reflection of who I truly am. Who wouldn’t want to read that??

Soapbox Insights Lounge
The *teal* Soapbox Lounge!

My home is also filled now (sorry, not sorry, hubby). Filled with a ton of great products from the amazing sponsors without whom Megaphone Summit would have looked quite a bit different. Riceland Foods is in the business of filling bellies, and they filled our bags with enough rice to feed the 5,000! Okay, not that much, but it’s a lot of rice, y’all! In my kitchen there’s also AriZona Energy Shots and some smoothie mixes, all from our presenting sponsor Soapbox Insights + Influence. Other swag I picked up from the conference include Ferrero Rocher chocolates (my favorite!), a bag of Pop Pop Shop popcorn, a Keep Fayetteville Funky mug, a jar of homemade jam, and a nail file, reusable shopping bag and ribbon hair tie all in First Security Bank TEAL! I almost forgot about the Remington hairbands and clips that I picked up in their Thermaluxe Blow Out Bar (yes, they had a complimentary blow out bar at the conference!!). I’m probably still forgetting something, but needless to say, I didn’t leave empty handed.

Thermaluxe had me #remready for the conference
Thermaluxe had me #remready for the conference

I am grateful to all of the organizers, sponsors, speakers and fellow attendees for making Megaphone Summit an amazing weekend! I am so glad that I was able to go this year, and I’m already looking forward to next year!





What the Pioneer Woman taught me about green beans

I have a bit of a confession to make. Depending on who you are and what circles you run in, this may not be very earth shattering, but I think it will at least be a surprise to my blogger friends. Here goes–I had never read The Pioneer Woman blog before today. Nor have I seen her show or ever flipped through one of her cookbooks. Whew! It feels good to get that off of my chest. I should say, I have nothing against Ree Drummond. In fact, now that I’ve been initiated, I’m sure I will inevitably get hooked on her brand of tell-it-like-it-is-y’all blogging and down-home, made-from-scratch cooking. Who am I kidding? The woman uses cast iron and taught me that you don’t have to snap both ends off of your green beans, I am already hooked.

Speaking of those green beans, I riffed on her Fresh Green Beans recipe for dinner tonight and it was super delicious. I had already removed both ends (oh snap!), but I bought some of my time back by blanching them before throwing them in the skillet. I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone that I decided to forgo her suggestion to use bacon grease instead of oil and butter. I also left out the red bell pepper since I didn’t have it, and while I had onion, I decided to go ahead and use the leeks I had already chopped for another recipe.

Full disclosure, I did *almost* get to meet Ree Drummond last November. My first outing away from the young master Gray was to a blogger event that was centered around The Pioneer Woman’s visit to Rogers, AR. We got together the night before her book signing to hang out and eat yummy food prepared from the recipes in her cookbooks. I had planned to go stand in line for her to sign a cookbook along with hundreds of her die-hard fans, but I wasn’t able to make it after all.

Are you a Pioneer Woman fan? Either way, you should try the green beans. Am I the only one who didn’t know that you only have to snap one end off? On second thought, I may just keep doing it my way. Besides sorting dry beans, it’s one of the few kitchen tasks I can do sitting down.

Feast and forage

A foodie, I am not. Not a nwaFoodie. Certainly not a Fancy Pants Foodie. Not even on Fridays. But I do love to cook and search out new ways to bring healthy, tasty food to the table. Ever since I began my grain-free, sugar-free and a whole-lot-of-other-stuff-free diet, people have come to me asking for healthy recipes. At the same time, I hear a lot of “I could never follow your diet.” I tell these folks to imagine their dinner plate. Usually it will contain some kind of meat, vegetables and then some kind of starch or grain. If you simply remove the starch then you are eating my diet. It’s not really that simple (especially since I’ve never eaten a lot of meat), but if you think of it that way it is a lot easier to swallow (I know).  So, for this Foodie Friday edition of BLOGtober Fest, I would like to share the top recipes that I tend to share when asked.

Brussel Sprouts –From my absolute favorite food blogger, this recipe calls upon white beans and pecorino cheese to make those sprouts oh-so-tasty!

Texas Turkey Chili –A really fast and easy recipe. I prefer to use the beer it calls for, but you could easily substitute chicken broth.

Salmon patties –Kind of like crab cakes, but with salmon and almond flour. A favorite in our house.
Chicken with sage roasted vegetables –Perfect for a busy week night, this recipe uses rotisserie chicken and frozen veggies, then you can use the left-overs to make Chicken and Roast Veggie Stew

Mediterranean Chicken –this was very good, but I would recommend serving it over brown rice or even pasta (neither of which is allowed on my diet, but I think it needed something.)

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew –the recipe says to sprinkle on feta cheese if desired, but I would say that the feta cheese makes this recipe! Be sure and add a lot!!

Chicken Stir-Fry Lettuce Wraps –I love these just the way they are. Jeremy prefers the stir-fry over rice or in a tortilla instead of the lettuce.

Finally, this is similar to the recipe I used to make the vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free (did I mention delicious?) cupcakes pictured above. There are many more recipes to be found on my Pinterest board, Feast & forage. Kinda thinking this could be a series here, foodie or not.

The fair is a veritable smorgasbord

Every year around September, I get a hankering for pumpkin spice lattes and the Texas State Fair. Since massive amounts of sugar preclude me from indulging in the former, I’m always trying to find a way to experience the latter. Not just any fair will do. It has to be Big Tex. This past weekend, on a trip with my sister to visit my papa in Central Texas, I was able to feast my eyes (if not my sadly restricted digestive system) on my old friend in Dallas.

I didn’t ride the ferris wheel or eat anything deep fried, but I did allow myself a taste of the best root beer in the world. Yes, it probably had just as much sugar in it as the aforementioned pumpkin spice latte, but it was so worth the ache I’m still feeling from it today, 3 days later.

I am so glad that we were able to go! Have you ever been? Are you as terrified of the ferris wheel as I am? (I love roller coasters, but the ferris wheel just gives me too much time to think about how high up I am!)

Also, this print cracked me up. Reminds me of my dad.

This post is part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers BLOGtober Fest. Fair print via Fab.

Ghosts of Halloween past

While fall is my favorite season, Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. I don’t wear a costume or put up decorations. And I confess, more often than not when the 31st rolls around, I just leave the porch light off. So when the topic of Halloween arose as part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers BLOGtober Fest, I drew a big, ol’ blank. 
Then I started thinking. I could write about the time I was trick-or-treating in North Carolina and walked onto a porch to find an unattended (so I thought!) bowl of candy sitting next to a scarecrow decoration. As I reached out to take my piece (only one, of course) the scarecrow moved! Or, I could tell the tale of my first (and last) experience going to the haunted houses in the abandoned warehouses of the Kansas City West Bottoms neighborhood. For me, the terror began even as we stood in line waiting to enter. Inside was a maze winding through the dark. I feared every corner, around which came some new horror. 
However, my fondest Halloween memory has to be watching Arsenic and Old Lace with friends. It became a tradition of sorts. One that I try to keep even now. Last year, I added the Cary Grant flick to my Netflix queue and then put it aside to watch on Halloween. I ending up sending it back unwatched. I hope to make up for that this year. 
“It’s not a nice thing to do. People wouldn’t understand. He wouldn’t understand. What I mean is…well, this is developing into a very bad habit!”–Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster addressing his elderly aunts after they’ve poisoned and killed their 12th lonely, old man.

I fancy fall

Ah, fall. The season of cooler weather and scarves, crunchy leaves and boots, bonfires and sweaters, and steaming hot beverages and jackets. Okay, clearly for me fall is as much about fashion as it is about anything else. I’ll just go ahead and say it, I’m pretty sure I dress better in the fall. It might have to do with the fact that I tend to do more shopping in the fall than in any other season. Or it may be that I’m much more comfortable in the layers, sleeves, tights and boots of fall than I am in their warm weather alternatives. 
A quick peek at my Fall Fancies board on Pinterest reveals that I’m loving leather, dots, colorblocking and those oh-so-fall textures like houndstooth and tweed. Not to mention the fanciest of my favorites for fall–peplum. Be it on dresses, tops or jackets, I’m in love!

As for the image above. I have been watching all of the old seasons of Frasier on Netflix and I’ve decided to channel Peri Gilpin as Roz Doyle this season. I’ll leave the hair in the 90s where it belongs, but so far I’ve spotted her in maxi dresses, chambray and again my favorite, peplum.

This post is part of Arkansas Women Bloggers BLOGtober Fest. Check out all of the fun here.