and there was this one time I went to a blogger conference…

Why you should attend a blogger conferenceI recently attended my second Arkansas Women Blogger conference (AWBU). As soon as I unloaded all the swag from my car (more on this later), I flopped on the bed and began to think about all the things I had learned, the items I want to follow up on, the magic of the weekend. Really, it was a magical blogger weekend. I jumped in, held on, absorbed as much as possible, hoped I took enough pictures and notes to remember everything later, then returned back to real life while everything percolated.

And ideas do percolate.

There are ideas still swimming around in my brain from last year’s conference.

After spilling thoughts onto my journal for later reference, I came away with these top five reasons to attend a blogger conference. (These reasons apply not only to bloggers but any profession, any interest, every person.)

  1. Get out of your comfort zone! This is a big one for me. I’m an introvert. I prefer quiet. A group of bloggers is NOT quiet. Attending last year’s conference was a big step for me. Returning a second year and agreeing to speak on a panel about writing was huge. If you stop and think about it, the things we truly want probably are outside our comfort zone, otherwise we’d already have them.
  2. Educate yourself. Technology constantly changes. While I write this, new widgets are being designed and introduced. There is much to learn in any field and people ready and excited to teach. You’ll be surprised to realize you have things to share too. If you don’t learn and evolve, your skills will quickly become stale and irrelevant. You may become irrelevant…
  3. Become inspired. Life will thumb it’s nose. You’ll second guess yourself. Why the heck would anyone want to read anything I have to write? You’ll run out of ideas. Your ideas will become same ole, same ole. Conferences will motive you, remind you of the reasons you love writing (or whatever your skill, hobby, business, etc.). You will leave excited to do your job better.
  4. Make connections. Writing is solitary. Sitting behind a computer all day, talking only to yourself and your pet can make a person crazy. Know what I mean? Meeting other people who can talk non-stop for an entire weekend about a mutual passion is beneficial. You will make friends and have people to bounce ideas off. Your world will expand.

Reason Number 4 for attending a blogger conference - Make Connections!5. The swag and food! This is certainly not a reason to blog, but a definite bonus for being an Arkansas Women Blogger. AWBU has supportive sponsors including Riceland, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Great Day Farms, Alliance Rubber Products, Visit Rogers, Petit Jean Meats, Acorn, Arkansas Grown, WetNap and Kendal King Group. Just look at the goodies I hauled home. And this wasn’t all of it.

AWBU Swag!

 

There is guaranteed yummy food where food bloggers gather.

There is guaranteed yummy food where food bloggers gather.

Is there a conference or event you are considering? Sign up. Just do it. Something good will come from it, I promise.

Grace Grits and Gardening

Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

 

 

Simple Pleasures #1

Our first official week in our new (old) home was busy and often overwhelming, yet filled with happy-to-be-back-in-Arkansas simple pleasures. Simple pleasures worth recapping now to remember later…

simple pleasures

Cool, fall weather. Chilly mornings, perfect afternoons. Sleeping with the windows open. What can I say, fall is my favorite season! I bought my first pumpkin:)

Lots of long walks. Lucy and Annabelle are dog tired by day’s end. John and I enjoyed walking to the square and farmer’s market, Dickson Street for lunch, and Razorback Stadium. Living in a walkable town is such a bonus.

Fayetteville Farmer's Market

Farmer’s Market, Fayetteville, Arkansas

 

I am thankful for the luxury of time. Time to unpack boxes and arrange things we’ve collected through the years. Even with all the chaos, there was time to think and talk about planning our yard and garden.

Beans and Cornbread. Cooking my first meal in the house felt good and right. Brown beans and skillet cornbread – yum!

beans and cornbread

Television. After two visits from AT&T UVerse (never fun), we had television just in time to watch college football. The Razorbacks didn’t fare so well, but my Baylor Bears looked strong! Supporting multiple teams is a good thing.

Ice Cream. Last summer thanks to Yarnell’s and Arkansas Women Bloggers, I won a free half-gallon of ice cream. I finally collected it. I chose Ozark Black Walnut. Yummy! Yarnell’s is an Arkansas tradition.

Yarnell's Ozark Black Walnut

What simple pleasures did you enjoy last week?

Grace Grits and Gardening

Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Nana’s Cactus

My short memoir, Nana’s Cactus, was recently published in Arkansas Review. Arkansas Review, an Arkansas State University literary journal, is more difficult to find than a regular magazine so you likely haven’t read it. (The online page doesn’t appear to have been updated recently.) My story is about a cactus and Nana and Elvis and life and death. Sort of deep I suppose for only a few words… Although I’m not going to re-print it here, I will give you the back story on the plant itself.

Nana's Cactus - Arkansas Review

As long as I can remember, Nana’s cactus thrived in a dusty glass terrarium on her carport at the home place. In the mid-1970s when Nana and Papa moved to Keiser, that cactus moved to their new carport in Keiser. Each time we visited Nana and Papa (daily?), we walked by her cactus to get to her back porch. Hundreds of times.

Nana's Cactus

The cactus was a tangle of a plant that lived outside no matter the weather. During fall, the blades were often buried in layers of leaves. It spent many winters beneath two or three inches of snow yet always bloomed bright yellow in May.

I took a cutting with me to college. It traveled with me to several apartments in Waco, my first house in Dallas and my last home on Worth Street in Munger Place. Several years ago when it outgrew its largest pot (it’s not the easiest to transplant as you might imagine – see those needles in the picture below!), John planted it in the hottest corner of our Dallas flower bed.

Last week I started over with Nana’s Cactus. I took another small cutting, repotted it and moved it with me to Fayetteville. I think it’s happy to be back in Arkansas.

Nana's Cactus

Grace Grits and Gardening

Farm. Food. Garden. Life.

P.S. My sister and Momma have cuttings of Nana’s cactus. Other family members do too.

Nana - Frances Johnson Creecy

Nana – Frances Johnson Creecy

Musical Pairing:

Bobby Goldsboro, Honey