Friday, April 29, 2016

Using Imagination in a Crisis

Have you ever been in the middle of something bad happening, that while it was happening felt horrible, but in the end you realized the bad was really good?
My home was the victim of a water leak…one of those pesky leaks that had been secretly seeping under floors and providing water for the sheetrock.
In the midst of furniture being stored, floors being removed, sheetrock being cut out, while working 60 hours a week and trying to keep some sense of normal for my 88 year old father who lives with us and had dementia, I realized that yes the leak was an issue, but I had an opportunity to create the home of my dreams (well, maybe not the whole house, but three rooms).
Imagination is powerful. Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the choices we make. Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress. 
As I was driving home after work, late one night, I realized, I had always imagined a large room with overstuffed furniture, light walls, and bold accent colors. The word imagine means: to form a picture or idea in your mind of something that is not real or present.   Our old room had tan walls, laminate flooring, large overstuffed dark furniture and black accent tables. It was a comfortable room, but not the room of my dreams.
Ok, so I had a picture in my head, but I found myself being indecisive. What if I choose the wrong flooring? What if light colored walls looked horrible? What if no one liked what I designed?  What if bold accent colors were over powering?  Should I also redecorate the foyer, it does lead into the den???  When I start down the road of “what ifs” I become paralyzed with indecision.  Fear keeps my imagination from becoming reality.

As an educator at heart, I love books.  I often find myself turning to books, when I do not have an answer.
Years ago I had read Myquillyn Smith’s book, “The Nesting Place, It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful”. Knowing I needed inspiration I pulled Myquillyn’s book out and purchased Melissa Michaels “The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have” 
Now I am still living in chaos, but my imagination is running wild. I can see that the pesky water leak, as a blessing.  I have the ability and tools to design and build the room of my dreams. Oh and why stop at one room, my imagination could just run wild with making my home the home of my dreams.

What do you imagine for your home?

Friday, April 08, 2016

Celebrate the Flavors of spring in Northeast Arkansas

Celebrate the Flavors of spring in Northeast Arkansas
In Northeast Arkansas spring is a time for being outside, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the freshness in the air. 

In Blytheville, AR. spring means it is time for the Farmer’s Market.  Several years ago Blytheville started looking for ways to draw people to Main Street.  A once thriving place, where most of the city’s businesses resided, was then sparsely lined with business among empty buildings and the sidewalks were empty.
Sitting on the west end of Main Street is a blue building prominently displaying a vertical sign with lighted letters, identifying the building as the Grey Hound Bus Station.  The city and Main Street Blytheville organization has diligent worked to restore the building to its original grander.  The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is believed to be only one of three of a kind still in existence. Built in 1939, the building houses the local tourist information center, headquarters for Main Street Blytheville, and now Saturday morning Farmer's Market.
Not as large as some Farmer’s Market, Main Street Farmer’s Market in Blytheville is a taste of small town Northeast Arkansas. You can buy fresh vegetables, locally baked goods, and craft items.  On almost any Saturday morning, there will be coffee and homemade tamales available.  

I love to go and buy fresh vegetables. This time of year, fresh green spinach is available.
Being a vegetarian in a family of carnivores, I often try to cook recipes that will bring my meat eating family members over to the Vegetarian side.  One of my family's favorite recipes is fried spinach artichoke balls.  My boys never make fun of my vegetables served up southern fried.

Fried Spinach Artichoke Balls.
9 ounces fresh green spinach, sautéed with a pinch of salt and pepper
1 (6.7 ounce) jar artichoke hearts (drain and pat dry)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 loves minced garlic
1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 lemon, cut into slices
1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups vegetable oil


Sautee the green spinach in a skillet lightly coated in vegetable oil add a pinch of salt and pepper cook till wilted.  Drain well on a paper towel.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, Parmesan, mayonnaise, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Place bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm.

Place the panko, eggs and flour in 3 small bowls.

Roll the spinach mixture into 1-inch balls. Lightly roll in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip each ball in the egg wash, then lightly roll around in the panko breadcrumbs.

Fry in hot sunflower oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes total.

They are ready to serve.  

If you ever in Blytheville, Arkansas stop the Grey Hound Bus Station.  We would love to have you visit our little corner of Arkansas.  

~ Connie ~