Monthly Archives: February 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day!

We made little, individual heart-shaped pies. Yum.

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Last night, our oldest daughter made her Valentine box to take to school. I think it turned out really cute! Love Bug, Monster, or just plain silly . . . whatever you call it, I’m proud of her and her little creation!

She used a shoebox for the main body, covered it in wrapping paper. The legs are cardboard toilet paper tubes covered in aluminum foil. The eyes are ping pong balls. The feet are cut out of scraps of foam leftover from one of Mitch’s upholstery projects. Sign Vinyl teeth and pipe cleaner hair! Love it!

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(Abigail didn’t make a Valentine box at home this year, since her class had plans to decorate Valentine bags during their party.)

This morning, the girls woke up to find balloons and candy from their Daddy before they went to school.

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Mid morning, I was called to pick Abigail up from school. Coughing and fever. Boo.
😦
I took her to the doctor, and she tested negative for strep and flu.
Hopefully her respiratory infection will pass quickly.

After school, Cali went to a skating party with her friends.

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Mitch brought this to me when he came home from work. It is a new blackberry for the backyard. I hear it comes with a guy willing to plant it for me and possibly the option to buy more of them this weekend!
Does he know me, or what? Love.
Tonight, Mitch grilled lamb (my favorite) for me.
Lucky girl, I am. πŸ™‚

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Tonight as I’m sitting here about to make this post, Abigail wow’d me, again. I love the world through her eyes.

So, she and I are talking:

She thanks me for her new heart socks that she wore today.
Then she said, “Valentine socks are really the best socks. We should think about buying more while they’re available. They are really the best value. They’re different than Halloween or Santa socks, because Valentine socks are LOVE . . . We get to wear them all year!”

I agree. Wear your heart socks all year sweet Abigail!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

~Amber Hamilton Henson

This article is featured in HAT TRICK magazine, beginning on page 72. Click on magazine cover to be redirected: Hat Trick magazine

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Little Rock Mardi Gras Parade 2013

Ah, Tuesday.Β 
It seems today is “Shrove Tuesday”, the day of the humble pancake, traditionally prepared on this day as a way to use the last of the eggs and fat before fasting and an occasion for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.Β 
It is also known as “Mardi Gras,” Fat Tuesday, the day of the modern, increasingly elaborate King Cake, adorned in colored sugars and stuffed with a trinket baby.Β 

We went to a Little Rock “Mardi Gras” parade on Saturday. I know Mardi = Tuesday, but the parade was on a Saturday. It is a cute little annual event hosted by SoMa (SoMa = Little Rock’s Southside Main Street Project.)

A current photo of our family at SoMa’s 2013 “Mardi Gras” parade on Saturday appeared on the front of the Arkansas section of Sunday’s edition of the state newspaper, Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Little Veronica was standing beside me holding my hand, just not visible in the photo with Caroline in front of her.

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(source)

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In years past, we participated by walking in the parade. We built a fun “mini float” by upholstering an abandoned shopping cart for our daughters to ride in. In those years, the Shriners rode in funny little vehicles, there were antique fire trucks and horse drawn carriages. It was pretty neat!
Here we were in 2008:

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There is a short video about the parade made by a UALR student in 2008. In this short one minute video, you’ll see me pushing our upholstered shopping cart about 39 seconds into the video. Click, here to see the youtube video. Did you watch it? Soooo cute, right?! πŸ™‚

In 2010, we moved from downtown to Chenal and haven’t been participating with/in SoMa as much while we’ve been establishing our new roots, participating in a new school district, etc. Most of our day to day activities all happen in west Little Rock, now. It was fun to go back to SoMa and watch the neighborhood parade again!

Tonight, traditional Pancakes or modern KingCakes? There’s actually a recipe for savory Japanese style pancakes that I pinned awhile ago that I’ve been meaning to try (with a little modification, to taste, of course!) Instead of a sweet pancake, it’s savory: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/35184440809931063/

Did you recognize this Tuesday one way or the other? Are you doing anything different on this Tuesday than you do on other Tuesdays?

~Amber

Arkansas Flower & Garden Show 2013

***Update!!!*** Monday, February 25, 2013

We LOVED the 2013 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show! I attended the show Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!! Here’s a peek at what our family experienced at the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show. I’m including lots of links, so just click on any particular points of interest, in case you missed the show!

We followed the rules and emailed our entry for the Pin It To Win It Contest and won 6 courtesy passes, which allowed my husband and I to attend all three days! Via a link provided by P. Allen Smith’s facebook page, I signed up to receive updates from the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, TheMiracleBean.com mailed us an additional four courtesy passes which I was able to share with a friend, a pack of UA Kirksey Edamame seeds to grow in our backyard, and recipe cards! How awesome is that?!

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I’m actually really excited about trying to grow a little edamame in our backyard this year! It will be my first attempt ever, so stay tuned as I share more in a future post about the exciting world of Arkansas’ edamame!! I’ve learned SO MUCH that I want to share and continue to learn! And, I promise I will. In the meantime, You’ll want to “like” the the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board on Facebook. I sense their social media presence might be growing exponentially soon! You won’t want to miss out on recipes, planting tips, links to their new ebook cookbook, and more. The “Kirksey edamame” is an important crop for many Arkansas Farmers, so show your state pride and hop over there real quick and push “like!”
Now, onto my photos and a tour of the 2013 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show:

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The AR Flower and Garden Show was spectacular! There was so much to see and do! It was held in the Statehouse Convention Center, downtown Little Rock. These next photos only cover a portion of things seen and experienced at the show! For example, a person could easily dedicate an in-depth blog post to just the floral arranging contests, or just shopping neat items from vendors, or just the “how-to”s and demonstrations, and etc! The Arkansas Flower and Garden Show was such a wonderful and comprehensive show!

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The first day, I attended with my youngest in the stroller, and we were both absolutely mesmerized by the Garden Design installations. The spaces created each truly transported visitors! Beyond glorious plant material, the designers used all varieties of materials in unique and innovative ways. In one space you’re enveloped on a Southern front porch circa 1913, in another space you’re beside a wonderful fountain amid shimmering, upcycled wine bottles screening, and yet other spaces you experience contemporary indoor-outdoor dining and lounging at its best!

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We also enjoyed looking around and shopping for garden decor! Here were a few of our personal favorites: these head planters, fairy garden supplies, and more from Botanica Gardens! If you missed the show, check out their store for all the tiny plants and supplies you need for your own fairy garden this summer!

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We also bought a Tillandsias bromeliad “air plant” in a gourd from The Funny Farm, complete with detailed instructions for its care, and a non-invasive variety of honeysuckle from Horticare!

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Little Veronica and I also perused the vendors offering local produce and artisan foods! I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with Willow Springs Market Garden, and I am now encouraged to add the native paw paw trees to my suburban backyard! You can find out about their local, organic produce via their Facebook page, here.

The praline pecans from Ozark Candies & Nuts were soooo yummy! That is why we bought not just one, but two bags!

We visited with the Martin Family Farm, the produce growers and makers of Jelly Madness. Beyond the southern staple jellies, they also had some unexpected delightful combinations. I sampled their “Lavender Peach,” bought a jar, and am now likely a customer for life. Yes, it is that good. Seriously. You’ll want to find them! Their website for direct ordering is JellyMadness.com, and you can find their Facebook page, here.

It was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to get this photo of Post Familie! They were one of the busiest areas! For any of my non-Arkansan readers, did you know that Arkansas has a portion of the state that we refer to as wine-country? I’d love to visit the vineyards! It is officially on my to-do list!

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On Day 2, Saturday, we arrived at the Arkansas Flower and Gardens Show, around 12:30, so that I wouldn’t be late to see P. Allen Smith. Allen’s presentation “Garden to Table” was wonderful! Every seat was occupied and people lined the walls! When we first entered, there were seed packets on each chair: Lettuce varieties, Ferry Morrse Heirloom Tomato, UA Kirksey Edamame, and cucumbers. It was fantastic how he wove it together with audience participation that cumulatively, we make a salad! P. Allen Smith is truly a gifted story teller and such a fun spirit! Want to tour his farm or attend his upcoming Backyard Poultry Workshop? Find out the details at PAllenSmith.com
Check your local tv listings for broadcast times of his show on PBS member stations, find recipes and video tutorials and more on his website PAllenSmith.com, and find him on facebook at Facefook.com/GardenHomeRetreat.

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Our older daughters and I found several more items of interest on Saturday afternoon, too! Bees, bees, bees, and local honey! Our girls were fascinated! Seeing video and books about bees is great, but seeing LIVE bees is so much better! They got to look at slice of real beekeeping and came home with quite a bit of interesting literature to reinforce what they experienced! If you’re interested in bees, beekeeping, or sourcing local honey, contact ARbeekeepers.org

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Caroline and Abigail made crafts at the 4H table while I inquired about opportunities for them to participate with 4H during this coming summer!

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Okay, I’ve been talking a lot about the things the girls and I did, but here are a few things that my husband repeatedly gravitated toward. Winning a truck from Crain Ford? Yes, please! We certainly entered to win! There was also, Fiser!! Kubota!! Fiser!! Kubota!!, to drool over! Several of our neighbors have these multi-seat atvs that they use when it snows and when they go hunting. We want one! And, when we eventually move onto more acreage, we really want one of the models that was on display out front! Did you see the BBQ/grilling/outdoor kitchen area setup by AntiqueBrickOutdoor.com (located on 9th St. in Little Rock) ? Our current lot and patio space is definitely big enough to add such an arrangement. I’m guessing it would certainly boost resale value of this house and attract potential buyers! Things to consider . . . Hmmm.

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On Sunday, we brought our daughters back to the AR Flower and Garden Show to participate in the “Wiggly Worm Workshop” and “Terrarium Building!” They thoroughly enjoyed both classes!

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There was so much to see and do! It is definitely a “must see and be seen” event for garden enthusiasts, fascinating for those of us eager to learn more, and an educational, fun family outing!

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If you look at this program we received, it will confirm that with around 100 vendors, dozens of Gardening How-to Presentations, and 8 Featured Speakers, a detailed floral design competition, and thousands of visitors this year, this post gives only a glimpse of what could be seen and experienced at this year’s 2013 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show!

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Thank You for the Passes!!
We LOVED attending the 2013 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show!

~Amber Hamilton Henson
(+Mitch, Caroline, Abigail, and Veronica!)

Original Blog Post:

This year’s Arkansas Flower and Garden Show will be Feb 22-24, 2013. “Homegrown Goodness!” this year’s theme for the show, is features a fantastic lineup of events, speakers, and vendors! For more information, to buy tickets early, connect with sponsors, and peruse the gallery of photos from previous events, visit www.ARGARDENSHOW.org

New this year, they are hosting a “pin it to win it” contest! Find the show’s facebook page, by clicking here You can save the image to upload to a Pinterest pinboard from their Facebook page. The rules are on the image!

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I haven’t purchased my tickets yet, so I’d love to win!!
I already follow P. Allen Smith on Pinterest, so you may see that I’ve “invited” him on the board as a pinner!

What will I pin? Well, since its a great community event, I’m going to take a look at the sponsors of the event. If any of their products catch my eye, I’m pinning those for sure!!
You can see my “AFGS Homegrown Goodness” Pinterest board, here.

I’m expanding my edibles collection here in my own suburban yard this year. In the two years we’ve been here, I’ve planted an apple tree, three peach trees, rosemary en masse, sage, chives, roses, and more. Last weekend, I purchased two new fig plants and started preparing new raised veggie beds in the backyard. I think I’ll pin plants that I would like to add this year and … anything else that catches my eye!

Here we Go! Let’s pin! I’m looking forward to the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show!!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

email me: WhatAmberLoves@att.net

Happy National Carrot Day!

Yes, February 3rd is National Carrot Day. Really! Trust me. It is!!

While we didn’t dine exclusively on carrots all day, we certainly did participate! Did you?

Tonight, I roasted carrots in the oven! So simple and delicious:

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My carrots:
Using a food processor, slice a 6-10 carrots.
Add a teaspoon of each of your favorite spices. (I used cinn, chili powder, garlic powder, fresh rosemary.)
Add 2 tablespoons of your preferred oil. (I used grape seed oil)
and, a pinch or two of sea salt.
Mix all, coating carrots, and spread on baking sheet.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes!

Tonight, our carrots were served beside Pasta&Mushrooms! Love!

Happy National Carrot Day!

(and I think something known as the “Super Bowl” is happening today, too!)

πŸ˜‰

“Later,” Gators and “Afterwhile” Crocodiles!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

(This is a personal blog. All of the opinions here are exclusively my own and were unsolicited. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of those products, businesses, or events that may be featured within posts, although my goal IS to be PR friendly toward such products, businesses, and events that I choose to promote, while simultaneously offering valuable, relevant data, facts, links, or other to my family, friends, and community that may encounter this post. I have not received compensation, product, or payment of any type for publishing this post. In the event that I am compensated after-the-fact, the post will be edited in this section to reflect such compensation. Any reader attempting to duplicate any recipe, activity, craft, or other created by me [Amber] or shown on this blog should be done at the reader’s own risk. Cool? Cool.)

Pickled Okra & Ham Roll-Ups

Sometimes, you just need an easy finger food to set out. These fit that need! If you haven’t tried pickled okra, cream cheese, ham roll ups, you should.

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Ham coated in cream cheese spread is wrapped around a pickled okra!
Slice about one inch thick, sprinkle with seasoning, and serve.
Easy, easy!

We LOVE pickled okra, but we especially love THIS pickled okra, Old South Pickled Okra. Bonus, they’re an Arkansas company. Please, click around their website and take a look at their wonderful local products! Hopefully, if you’re in Arkansas, you can already find their products in your grocery store, if not, speak up and support local agriculture! (We bought ours at our neighborhood WalMart.)

Enjoy!
Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

Pie Crust Basics

We improved our pie crust making skills today at Eggshells Kitchen Co.!

Earlier this week, I would have told you that I was spending Saturday morning at an organic gardening seminar, but it has been re-scheduled until March. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to spend a Saturday morning learning to do something fun with my two oldest daughters, we jumped at the chance to attend a Pie Crust Basics class at Eggshells Kitchen Co., here in Little Rock. We’re so glad we did! It was a great class, our first time in the store, and we’ll definitely be back!

Want to know what we learned? I’ll do my best to tell you! See photos as well!

Recently, I had been using pre-made frozen pie crusts and refrigerated pie crust dough because I just wasn’t really happy with my crusts. Now, I see where I was going wrong!!

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For starters, in the past I was mixing my dough too dry and it was crumbling as I rolled it. Today, we started with a much moister dough, and because we were constantly adding flour to roll it, flip and add more flour to roll it, flip and add more flour to roll it, repeat 8-12 times, the finished dough was perfect!

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Mix ingredients.
Form hockey puck shape.
Roll on floured surface.
Flip, coat lightly with flour, roll. (Repeat 8-10x)
until it is translucent and large enough to cover pie pan.
Transfer into ungreased pie pan and press into the bottom crease.
Trim excess from top edge.
Using thumb of one hand and index finger of the other hand, create a decorative edge!
Poke holes with a fork to prevent air pocket bubbles when baking.

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After a demonstration, we were given an opportunity to try it! While other women attending the class jumped in to try, so did my oldest daughter! She’s only in 5th grade, but did a GREAT job. I’m confident we can repeat the process at home, now that we’ve had training by a culinary genius!

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Here is the recipe for the crust we made in class today:

DOUGH (makes up to 6 shells)

1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup cool water
3 cups all-purpose flour (scant)

*If you’re not baking 6 pies at once, the unbaked pie shells will freeze and keep well; just line with wax paper between each! πŸ™‚

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Eggshells Kitchen Co. is hosting pie classes every Saturday during the month of February, 2013.
(10am and 2:30pm)
They also have lots of other classes scheduled on their board, a beautiful store stocked full of every gadget and utensil you could dream of for your kitchen, and a great selection of sauces, pickles, spice blends, and more!

Stop by there! Remember to shop local, the sense of well-being is free. But, if you’re not local, you’ll enjoy their online store as well! You’ll be glad you did! We loved the experience!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson