Prim Goods — Made Better By Our Story

May 15, 2016 by

Sometimes you find truly incredible products that are MORE than the products themselves. This is one of those times.

PrimGoods copy

A blogging friend of mine (thanks Fawn!) introduced me to Prim Goods, a skin care line made by the ladies of Primrose Hill Teen Challenge, a nonprofit, faith-based organization affiliated with Teen Challenge USA that helps give women and children affected by drugs a second chance and introduces them to God. Prim Goods asked me and several other bloggers to try their products and give a review.

So I tried them — and I was impressed. Even more, I was moved by what they’re doing at Primrose Hill.

Primrose Hill is located in Clark, Missouri. According to their website, their “goal is to help women, mothers and their children whose lives have been affected by the life-controlling issue of drugs and alcohol. At Primrose Hill, we believe in the power of change. We know that, if given the chance, every woman can go on to lead a productive and rewarding life.”

Primrose Hill is a 12-month, residential recovery program for women, and it is one of the few facilities where their young children can live with them while they get their lives back together.

And these women are getting their lives together. One of the coolest things about Primrose Hill’s website is you can listen to the women talk about what brought them to the home and how their lives are improving now that they are sober. Those stories are part of what makes Primrose Hill so fantastic — and why Prim Goods’ motto is “Made Better By Our Story.”

So what is Prim Goods?

Prim Goods is a micro-enterprise that was created to help raise money for Primrose Hill. As you might expect, it isn’t cheap to run a residential recovery program. In fact, it costs $2,000 a month per woman and an additional $100 a month for each child.

But more than a money maker, Prim Goods helps the women by teaching them vital job skills that they will need once they have finished with the program. It also gives them the confidence of knowing that they can create something that is useful and valued. What a wonderful lesson to give women who are working to put their lives back together! Each item, except for the lip balm, is signed by the woman who was making that product. How cool is that?

And yes, the products are awesome. I loved everything that I tried, but I think my favorite was their bar soap. I’m one of those weird people who prefers bar soap to shower gel. But I’m really picky about the soap I use. I like soaps that smell and feel great. And Prim Goods soap does both. It is super silky on my skin and the Primrose scent is floral, but not overpowering. Read what one student has to say about making soap.

Oh and the lip balm was heaven! I just loved the Honey Bunch scent. I think my next order will include the soap in that honey scent. *smile*

Don’t worry if you can’t handle scented products — Prim Goods has non-scented ones as well, perfect for people with sensitive skin.

So please, take a moment to check out Prim Goods. Their products would make a great gift for yourself or someone you love. And you’ll know that with each purchase, you are helping another woman improve her life and the lives of her children. What is better than that?

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One word

Jan 1, 2015 by

Wonderful women who are part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers community have been talking in recent weeks about choosing a word — one word — for 2015 that will help guide them for the year.

I believe I first heard about this one word concept a couple of years ago from Jacqueline Wolven, a fantastic woman and blogger from Eureka Springs who really lives deliberately. She talked about how powerful choosing one word and then incorporating it into your life could be. To be perfectly honest, I dismissed the idea at first. I couldn’t see how committing to a word, to a concept, for an entire year would benefit me. Life changes too much and too quickly for such a thing to be valuable, right?

But then the next year at AWBU, a yearly blogging conference, bloggers who had listened to Jacqueline and found their word were talking about the benefits they saw from their one word experiment.

I was intrigued. But I still wasn’t ready to commit.

Then last month, members of the group started talking again about choosing a word. I started mentally thinking about WHAT word I would choose IF I decided to choose one word.

One word kept coming to mind — priorities.

Action Expresses Priorities -- Mahatma Gandhi

Like many people, I struggle with my priorities. Oh, I think I have a pretty good idea of what they are — my family, my faith, my friends, my job, my volunteer work with the National MS Society and my blog — but so often I get those priorities out of order. Or I let something that isn’t on the list at all eat up far too much valuable time or effort.

So this year I’m going to work on my priorities — or to be more accurate, I’m going to work on prioritizing my priorities. It will likely mean saying no to more things that just aren’t a priority for me. And I hope it will mean saying yes to the things that are.

So to kick things off, I’ve deleted a number of games off of my phone. I’m ashamed to admit how many times I’ve put off things that are important, like spending quality time with my husband and daughter, to play a stupid game. Oh I was just decompressing after a stressful day, I told myself. And maybe that was part of it. But ultimately, I was letting the trivial edge out the essential.

So Goodbye Farm Story 2, so long Treasure Run — my time is valuable and you simply don’t rate.

What about you? Are you choosing a word for 2015? If so, what did you pick?

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Cajun’s Wharf Christmas Camp 2014

Nov 16, 2014 by

If you haven’t yet read the post by Heidi, aka Margarita Mama, on our recent Saturday afternoon at Cajun’s Wharf Christmas Camp 2014, please check it out here. As she said, we and about 2 dozen Arkansas Women Bloggers spent the afternoon with the Cajun’s Wharf crew, eating, drinking and having a grand ole’ time.

First up was a wine tasting with Dan, the manager at Cajun’s Wharf.

Matt drops some wine knowledge on us

Dan drops some wine knowledge on us. Did you know that Cajun’s Wharf has more than 200 bottles of wine on its wine list and more than 30 you can order by the glass? Bottoms up!

Dan let us sample  A to Z 2013 Oregon Riesling, Yali Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, Adelsheim Pinot Noir, also from Oregon, and St. Francis Merlot from California’s Sonoma Valley. My favorites were the Riesling, which was very refreshing and not nearly as sweet as many Rieslings are, and the Merlot, which was rich and lush — everything a Merlot ought to be.

Next up was lunch. Just in case you didn’t know it, Cajun’s Wharf is now open for lunch Monday through Friday. And their lunch menu is quite varied — think seafood, salads, soup, sandwiches and burgers, plus appetizers and desert.

First up were the appetizers. The table I was at couldn’t decide what appetizers to try, so our awesome server brought a little bit of everything. It was all so good, especially the Oysters Bienville, which Heidi had to convince me to try by promising it would be as good as the last oyster she talked me into eating in Gulf Shores! It was! I think I’ll definitely order the Oysters Bienville again.

As far as the other appetizers, the artichoke dip at Cajun’s Wharf has long been a favorite of mine. Oh, and I can’t leave out the shrimp and crawfish cakes with the slightly spicy cream sauce — I could have eaten the entire plate of those!

(Clockwise, starting from left) Oysters Bienville, a little bit of everything (Oysters Bienville, Crab Au Gratin, Artichoke dip, Blackened Chicken Eggrolls) and Shrimp and Crawfish Cakes

(Clockwise, starting from left) Oysters Bienville, a sampler with little bit of everything (Oysters Bienville, Crab Au Gratin, Artichoke dip, Blackened Chicken Eggrolls) and Shrimp and Crawfish Cakes

After the appetizers, it was a wonder I had room for lunch. Ha, who am I kidding — of course I had room for lunch! My pick was the Shrimp Enchiladas, a dish that combined shrimp, cheese and sour cream. It’s like they wrote that recipe just for me!

Creamy shrimp enchiladas

Creamy shrimp enchiladas

Somehow I failed to get any good pictures of desert (sorry!) but we sampled chocolate ganache Key lime pie, coconut cream pie, white chocolate bread pudding and chocolate creme brulee and a pumpkin pie. Everything was good, but my heart will always belong to chocolate creme brulee.

After all of this deliciousness, it was time to get cooking, err, cooking tips, that is!

Mary Beth Ringgold, the co-owner of Cajun’s Wharf, Capers and Copper Grill restaurants, was our teacher for the afternoon. I was thrilled to see that the recipe she was cooking for us was Mussels and Clams in Tomato Broth. Mussels are a dish that my husband makes for us occasionally, so I was excited to take him home a recipe that adds in clams!

Co-owner Mary Beth Ringgold teaches us the ins and outs of cooking clams and mussels

Co-owner Mary Beth Ringgold teaches us the ins and outs of cooking clams and mussels

Mussels and Claims in Tomato Broth

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. Mussels
  • 30 each Little Neck Clams
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 1  Shallot, minced
  • 1 each Red, yellow and green bell pepper
  • 1/2 Medium yellow onion — you can use leeks instead
  • 4 each Garlic cloves
  • 6 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 1 cup White Wine***
  • 1 each Lemon juiced
  • 2 cups Chicken broth
  • 2 TBS Clam juice
  • 1 can Rotel
  • Pinch of Red pepper flakes
  • 1 Fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup Rough chopped parsley
  • 2 TBS  Butter for finishing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*** Don’t cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink. — Mary Beth Ringgold 

 

1. Rinse and scrub the mussels and clams.

2. Discard any that have opened or have broken shells.

TIP: If a shell is just partially opened, gently tap it on the side of the stock pot or counter. If it closes back on its own, it is still alive and fine to cook. If it does not, it is dead and you need to toss it!

3. Heat oil and then butter in a stock pot.

4. Saute the onion, shallot, garlic and thyme — do them in this order, especially the onion first.

5. Add the wine, chicken stock, lemon juice and red pepper flakes.

6. Add the clam juice and the Rotel.

7. Bring to a light boil.

8. Add the Clams, bring back to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes.

9. Add the mussels and cook until the shells start to open.

10. Add the reserved butter, parsley and fresh tomatoes.

TIP: Discard any mussels and clams if their shells do not open!

11. Serve with plenty of garlic bread or toasts.

clams and mussels in a tomato broth

Clams and mussels in a tomato broth — this tasted as good as it looks!

Next on the agenda was a whiskey tasting. Now I know what you’re thinking — You don’t like whiskey. I admit, I’ve often been sitting right there next to you on the “It tastes Yucky” bench. But apparently, we haven’t been drinking the right kind of whiskey!

What we tried were four types of sipping whiskey. All four were made in Nashville in small batch distilleries. And I liked three of the four, especially when I diluted them slightly.

The whiskeys (from left to right) Collier & McKeel Tennessee Whiskey, Belle Meade Bourbon Whiskey, Corsair Artisan Ryemageddon Rye Whiskey and Triple Smoke Single Malt

The whiskeys (from left to right) Collier & McKeel Tennessee Whiskey, Belle Meade Bourbon Whiskey, Corsair Artisan Ryemageddon Rye Whiskey and Triple Smoke Single Malt, with our musical entertainment in the back

Both the Collier & McKeel Tennessee Whiskey and the Belle Meade Bourbon Whiskey had a little bit of a sweetness to them, which really surprised me. I’ve NEVER thought that whiskey could have vanilla and maple syrup notes in it, but the Collier & McKeel did.

And being born in Kentucky, I’m glad to say I can now drink at least one type of bourbon, even if it is made in Tennessee. 😉

I can’t quite describe the Rye Whiskey, other than to say it was very smooth and I liked it. Did you know that Ryes are considered an Old World whiskey, while the Tennessee Whiskey and Bourbon are New World ones — largely because the latter two are made with corn, which was plentiful in the United States, but not Europe.

Sadly, the one I wasn’t a fan of is Corsair Artisan’s Triple Smoke Single Malt, which was named Whiskey Advocate‘s “Artisan Whiskey of the Year.” The grains in the Triple Smoke had been smoked over three kinds of wood or fuel, including peat, which is pretty cool. Unfortunately, all my novice palate tasted in the whiskey was smoke.

Our last whiskey treat was a Tennessee sipping cream by Whisper Creek. Oh my word, it was good! If you like Bailey’s, you would like this. I think this would make an excellent treat on a cold winter’s night!

Many thanks to Cajun’s Wharf for inviting us to spend the afternoon with you. I had a blast!

Heidi and me enjoying our afternoon at Cajun's Wharf!

Heidi and me enjoying our afternoon at Cajun’s Wharf!

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A Haunted Blog Hop — Part 4

Oct 29, 2014 by

Welcome to Part 4 of the 2014 A Haunted Blog Hop! If you’ve hopped over here from Minivan Momma, Desperately Seeking Gina or Our Everyday Dinners, thanks so much for visiting me!

If you haven’t read the first three parts of the story, you’ll want to start here and work your way through the links to get back to me!

The Girls by JohnONolan, image found at IM Free

Ruby was awed by the dancing girls.    Photo by JohnONolan

 

The cookie was heavenly. She quickly finished it, licking the crumbs off of her lips. Eli handed her another one, which she devoured. Eli laughed and said, “Good, right?”

Then he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the crowd.

She followed, taking two steps for his one, as she was pulled along with Eli and the dancing girls toward the lights and the music. Suddenly, she stopped as she realized that she wasn’t limping. Her feet didn’t hurt. She wasn’t falling. Her body wasn’t betraying her. She felt whole.

She looked at Eli with questions in her eyes. He smiled and pulled her toward the carousel.

They climbed aboard and each mounted a pony. Ruby smiled because her pony had emerald eyes, just like papa. “Just like papa,” she thought and the smile vanished from her face.

Her sadness was quickly dispelled when the carousel started spinning, slowly at first, then faster, and faster and faster until the outside world was just a blur of lights and it seemed like they would be thrown off and dashed into a thousand bits. As Ruby opened her mouth to scream, Eli whispered in her ear, “Hold on. It will all be over soon.” Ruby couldn’t understand how he was whispering when he was on another carousel horse and they were spinning faster than a top.

But his words calmed her. And just like that, the spinning stopped.

As Eli helped her down from the carousel, she looked more closely at her surroundings. To her left was a Master of Ceremonies in a coat and tails with his top hat rakishly perched atop his head. In front of her were the dancing girls, laughing at something the Strong Man had just said. And to the right was Eli — handsome, perfect Eli.

“Eli, what is all of this? I don’t understand,” Ruby said.

Eli just smiled, “Just enjoy,” he said, as he pulled her further and further into the carnival.

And enjoy she did. Hand in hand, Eli and Ruby rode rides, played games and feasted on cotton candy and funnel cakes. Finally in the hallway of mirrors, Eli kissed her. Ruby thought she might die of happiness right then and there.

Hours later, Ruby hugged a teddy bear that Eli had won for her at one of the game booths. ‘This night is perfect,’ she thought to herself.

“It certainly is,” Eli said as he brushed his lips over her hair.

She jumped. “Wait, I didn’t say that out loud,” she protested.

“You didn’t have to,” Eli said. “Here, in this place, we are connected. I can hear your thoughts. I can feel what you feel. I live, I breathe because you live and you breathe.”

“This can’t be real,” Ruby said. “No wonder this seems perfect. It isn’t real,” she said, as she started to cry.

“But it can be,” Eli said. “If …” and his voice trailed off.

“If, what?” Ruby asked.

“If you’re willing to pay the price,” Eli said, as he grabbed her hand and pulled her toward another tent, one she hadn’t even noticed. As they neared the tent, she tried to read the sign by the door, but it wasn’t in English. Actually, it didn’t look like words at all — rather, it looked like some sort of runic inscription or hieroglyphics.

“Eli, what is this place? What price?,” Ruby said, her voice becoming more shrill with each word out of her mouth.

“Shh,” Eli said, as he held her tight. “All will be explained.”

 

What is the price? And will Ruby agree to pay it? Read the thrilling conclusion to our Haunted Blog Hop on Thursday at JunQue RethunQue.

 

2014 Haunted Blog Hop

 

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A Haunted Blog Hop — A Shameless Plug

Oct 28, 2014 by

As Halloween approaches and the witching hour is near, it is time for A Haunted Blog Hop. mwaahahhahaha

For the second year in a row, I’m joining forces with Gina of Desperately Seeking Gina and other Arkansas Women Bloggers to write a spooky tale just in time for Halloween. My piece of the story will go live tomorrow (Wednesday), but until then, please go check out the other talented ladies in the Haunted Blog Hop.

Heather, aka Minivan Momma, kicks off our story. Then visit Gina for more of our terrifying tale. Stop by to see Amy at Our Everyday Dinners for a little respite and then be back here on Wednesday to see what spookiness I’ve created. Then tune in to Laurie at JunQue RethunQue on Thursday to see how it all ends. mwhahhahhahha

2014 Haunted Blog Hop

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A Haunted Blog Hop — Part IV

Oct 30, 2013 by

Welcome to Part IV of a Haunted Blog Hop. If you’re just joining us, please take a few moments to catch up on the story.

Day One: desperately seeking {gina}

Day Two: Minivan Momma

Day Three: All That and Some Other Stuff

Day Four: It’s me!

Day Five: Grace, Grits & Gardening

 

continued from All That and Some Other Stuff ….

She opened the envelope. Inside was a letter and a photograph.

ballet

Gillian first looked at the photo of a young woman in a leotard and toe shoes, standing in front of a barre. Written on the back of the photo was a name, Serena Gillian Rutledge.

Puzzled as to why she had never heard of this Serena with whom she shared a name, Gillian put the photo down, opened the letter and began to read.

The cursive script seemed familiar and in moments, Gillian realized she was reading a letter written by her grandmother.

My dearest Gillian,

If you are here reading this letter, then your father must be gone. I know he would never have allowed you to visit — he swore that he and his would never return to this place of heartbreak.

Forgive me for starting this letter on such a note, but I am an old woman now and my mind wanders.

 

I wept when your father sent the locket back to me. It was one of the few items I had left from my daughter, Serena.

With a start, Gillian looked up from the letter. Her grandmother had a daughter? But Gillian had always been told her father was an only child.

She turned back to the letter.

Yes, I had a daughter. Your father likely never mentioned her. Do not be angry with him — we all dealt with Serena’s sad tale in our own ways.

Serena was a beautiful ballerina. To see her dance was heaven on earth. When she danced, she chased away the darkness and sadness.

 

It was a shame she could not dance all of the time.

 

Just before her 21st birthday, Serena was cast as Princess Odette in Swan Lake. She was more happy than I had ever seen her. But during a performance, she fell and broke her ankle. Doctors assured her she would be able to dance again, but Serena didn’t believe them. The darkness that dancing had held at bay enveloped her and soon my beautiful daughter was lost in her depression.

 

Every day, Serena’s light dimmed a bit more, until one day when I came home to find my beautiful child dressed in a white leotard and tutu from her final performance and hanging from the banister. I collapsed at the bottom of the stairs, screaming. Your father gently cut his sister’s body down, never saying a word. But he was different after that — remote, bitter and angry.

 

I lost both of my children that day — one to death and the other to distance. After we buried Serena, your father left and he never returned.

 

I hoped when he named you Gillian that he was healing and making peace with it all. But his reaction to the locket and to your love of ballet showed me that he would always blame dancing for Serena’s death. Oh I wish he could have realized that dancing was her salvation, not her demise. But he never saw that. And you, my child, suffered for it.

 

Gillian looked up and brushed the tears from her eyes. With a trembling hand, she put the letter back down, tracing an elliptical pattern on it with her finger as she tried to calm her wayward thoughts.

She couldn’t believe her grandmother’s story. She couldn’t fathom her aunt’s sadness or her father’s anger. All that pain made her sick to her stomach.

With her emotions in upheaval and her thoughts scattered in a billion directions, she turned to leave the room. Just then, she heard the strains of the familiar Swan Lake. She paused and slowly turned around.

 

What did she see?!?!?!

Don’t miss the final chapter of our story at Grace, Grits & Gardening tomorrow. Do you dare?

hauntedbloghop

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