Arkansas Wine Country

You might not think of Arkansas when you think of wine, but my home state is actually one of the oldest and largest wine producers in the South. The groundwork for this started millions of years ago with the formation of the Ozark Mountains in the upper northwest corner of the state. These ancient mountains help create a beautiful sandy loam that has proven to be an exquisite terroir for growing wine grapes.

Vineyards at Chateau aux Arc

Bacchus blessed us again in the 19th century when German-Swiss immigrants began flowing into the area to work in the coal mines. The European transplants found that the conditions were perfect for planting vineyards like those they grew back home. Many of these vineyards are still in production today and touring them is a fun way to take in the beauty of the region.

Visiting the heart of Arkansas wine country is an easy day trip to the town of Altus, where it’s possible to taste over 100 different wines in just a five mile stretch. I recommend making the trip in spring when the dogwoods are in bloom or fall as the leaves turn and the grapes are ready for harvest.

There are about a dozen wineries in Arkansas, but for this post I’m focusing on three – Post Familie Vineyard (www.PostFamilie.com), Wiederkehr Wine Cellars
(www.WiederkehrWines.com) and Chateau aux Arc (www.ChateauAuxArc.com).

Post Familie Vineyard

Open daily for tours and tastings.
800-275-8423
1700 St. Mary’s Mountain Rd
Altus, AR 72821
www.PostFamilie.com

Viewing processing grapes with Joseph Post.

The Post Familie Vineyard specializes in wine made from the muscadine, a native of the southeastern United States. Because they are a native grape they are easy to care for with no spraying necessary. This quality also makes muscadines a great choice for homeowners. And if you select a self-pollinating variety such as ‘Noble’ you don’t have to plant both a male and female vine.

At Post you’ll find 100 acres in cultivation. Northwest Arkansas is the northern boundary of where this grape will grow so Post plants the most cold hardy varieties. The most coveted in the red is ‘Noble’ and in the white, ‘Carlos’. The winery processes in excess of 1,000 tons each year, which makes them the leading grower and buyer in the central U.S.

Wiederkehr Wine Cellars

Open daily except Sunday.
1-800-622-WINE
3324 Swiss Family Drive
Wiederkehr Village, AR 72821
www.WiederkehrWines.com

Al Wiederkehr and me in front of the Weinkeller Restaurant.

If you want to learn more about the German-Swiss immigrants who settled in Altus Wiederkehr Wine Cellars is a must see. Established in 1880 by Johann Andreas Wiederkehr it is the oldest winery in continuous operation in central United States.

The Champagne Cellar is a beautiful example of 19th century stone work. All the stones are dry laid with a mix of lime and sand for mortar. It was the first wine cellar on the property and now houses a restaurant where you can dine on dishes from the French, German and Italian regions of Switzerland. Even the tables and chairs were handmade on the property in the style of the Swiss Alps.

If you are a festival-goer head over to Wiederkehr in October for their annual weinfest. Flowing wine, great food and beautiful scenery; it’s a party you won’t want to miss.

Chateau aux Arc

Tasting Room open Monday – Saturday, Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
800-558-9463
8045 Champagne Drive-HWY 186
Altus, Arkansas 72821
www.ChateauAuxArc.com

Chateau aux Arc

If you’re into sustainability practices like I am, then you’ll love the Chateau aux Arc vineyard and winery. The owner, Audrey House, is doing everything she can to produce an extraordinary glass of wine while reducing her carbon footprint on the planet.

Audrey set her sights on viniculture after a 1997 tour of a California winery. It just took ten minutes for her to realize that growing grapes and producing wine was her life’s ambition. Less than a year later she bought ten acres of Chardonnay grapes in Arkansas.

Her philosophy of working with the land is evident from the vineyards to the tasting room. She built a series of ponds that take advantage of a natural spring. Fish in the ponds fertilize the irrigation water so there isn’t any need for chemical fertilizers. Cover crops are planted to attract beneficial insects and return nitrogen to the soil.

It’s a beautiful place with a beautiful tasting room.

Enjoying a glass of local wine with Audrey House.

Laundry Day Hands-Free Tote Giveaway

How does laundry go at your house? Do you wash everything at a specific time or is laundry day every day? It feels like the washer never stops at Moss Mountain Farm. There’s a load running right now!

United Solutions Hands-Free ToteMy washer and dryer are on the first floor. This makes carrying laundry from the basement or second floor seem very similar to Sisyphus’s rock and hill. Unlike Sisyphus I have a Hands-Free™ Tote from United Solutions. I can load the tote with linens, throw the strap over my shoulder and climb up and down the stairs with ease.

How about you? Are you burdened with forever hauling a heavy laundry basket to and fro? Post a comment that includes your best laundry tip for a chance to win a Hands-Free™ Tote from United Solutions. I’ll pick a winner at the end of November, 2014.

Garden Clean Up Hands-Free Tote Giveaway

Congratulations to Jeanne! She was randomly selected as this month’s winner of the United Solutions Hands-Free™ Tote! Check your inbox Jeanne, we’ve sent you an email with the details about how to get your tote.

In my mid-South garden, fall slowly transforms into winter with the heat breaking late September and the first frost occurring at the end of November. And right in the middle of the transition is the month of October, an oft-overlooked critical point of garden maintenance. It’s a time for garden clean-up, to clear away and tidy, to set a fresh stage to ensure a vivacious spring.

United Solutions Hands-Free ToteFirst, when the temperature outside cools to a similar temperature to inside, I move my vacationing houseplants back indoors. I also add humus and manure to my flowerbeds. I clean up the blueberry patch by pruning broken or diseased limbs, and thicken the mulch with pine needles or shredded oak leaves. I steadfastly stake tall-growing autumn blooms such as salvia, dahlias and chrysanthemums and gather up materials to add to my compost bin. It’s quite the bustling month. Plus, I like to throw a big Halloween party and getting ready for that is its own wonderful, but significantly time-consuming enterprise.

I’ve partnered with United Solutions, and I use these baskets to carry my garden refuse, decorative gourds and whatnot, and they help me complete my tasks in this busy month. I’m giving away one United Solutions Hands-Free™ Tote to help you streamline your October too. Simply, leave a comment on my blog about your garden maintenance plans to enter.

Garden Harvest Hands-Free Tote Giveaway

Life needs a tote!

September means it’s time to harvest summer’s bounty, to take in the bumper crop of cucumbers, to trim the basil back for the last time. It’s a time for the final summer harvest, for carrying the corn, tomatoes and eggplants from the garden to the kitchen, where they will be canned, stewed or frozen and kept for winter. It’s the beginning of a final frenzy of activity on summer’s last legs. I find myself making numerous trips to garden in early morning or around dusk when the temperature drops to slightly less sweltering.

United Solutions Hands-Free ToteI’ve partnered with United Solutions, and I use these baskets to carry my produce. I pick the crops, place them in the basket and rinse them with the hose, while they’re still resting in the basket, and carry the whole thing back to the house. It cuts down on my trips back and forth and it’s profoundly helpful in this season of harvest. I’m giving away one United Solutions Hands-Free™ Tote to help you streamline your harvest too. Simply, leave a comment on my blog about what you’ll be harvesting to enter.

The Beekman Boys Explain How Goats Transformed their Lives

“Life gives you goats you make goat milk soap,

goat milk cheese and goat milk,

whatever you can make.”

If you’ve been on my Facebook page, you may have noticed some of the fun challenges we’ve been doing with people like Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily, Justin and Amy of The Chubby Vegetarians, Georgia Pellegrini, and the Beekman Boys. It’s a way for us to all work together on projects which have been really fun.

Most recently, the Beekman Boys stopped by the farm. If you don’t know their story Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge were two Manhattanites who moved from the big city to a farm in upstate New York. While at the farm we did some filming, cooking, a little turkey wrangling, and then threw a summer bash out under the Big Sister oak. It was a blast!

Big Sister Oak at Moss Mountain Farm

After dinner we held a panel discussion about local food, heirloom vegetables and heritage livestock breeds. The evening ended with a Q&A session.

Here are a few of the questions Josh and Brent answered.

How long have you guys had your farm?

Josh: Well we bought our farm in 2007. And we call ourselves accidental farmers because we were Manhattanites, obnoxious Manhattanites, who would drive up to upstate New York and bother all the locals and buy their apples on the weekends. And we found this farm and we fell in love with it and purchased it thinking it would be a nice weekend place. And then we got a letter in our mailbox from a man named Farmer John who was losing his farm and he said, “I’ve got 80 goats and can I come put them on your farm?” And we thought, still obnoxious Manhattanites at that time, we thought “Oh great! We’ve got a petting zoo.” So he came in with his goats. So that was 2007. In 2008 us obnoxious Manhattanites lost our fancy-pants Manhattan jobs; both within 30 days of each other. And when life hands you lemons you make lemonade. Life gives you goats you make goat milk soap, goat milk cheese and goat milk whatever you can make. That’s how we became accidental farmers.

You guys are doing a great job getting the message out about local farming and buying local. What’s that like? Do you ever feel pressure about the message you have to deliver?

Josh: One of the things we realized in moving to a small community was everyone has their own unique gift to offer. They really do. And when we first moved there we were like, we’re going to have a goat farm and we’re going to make the soap, and then we’re going to make jam and we’re going to sell all this stuff and then we realized we weren’t really good farmers at heart. When the goats would shy away from us every time we’d try to go milk we’d be, “You know, that’s Farmer John’s strength.” And so we had this community of all these great people who were doing great things and it took us a long time to realize that the reason we were there was we had come from a marketing background. Brent worked for Martha Stewart. I worked in advertising. The thing that we could give to them was we knew how to take their talents and bring them out to the world. That was the only thing we could do.

Tell us about the new cookbook.

Josh:Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook So the cookbook that just came out is the Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook. We’ve done three cookbooks – the original Heirloom Cookbook, the Heirloom Dessert Cookbook and the Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook. And we’re like you with the heritage breeds… there is so much history in farming and gardening that’s been lost in the last 50 years. And to bring back not just the heirloom varieties of plants but heritage breeds. And it’s not just a quaint fad. It’s not just a trend. It’s something that’s really vital for us to continue our food supply. Having more than three commercial tomato varieties available is vital. Because just like human beings, animals and plants, they need to have genetic diversity.

Allen: That’s the whole reason that we have the heirloom vegetables that we are growing in our vegetable garden here. We save the seeds, the Heritage Poultry Conservancy is all about preserving genetics of these brave old breeds. They are out of work! And the way to put them back to work is to put them on your plate.

Josh: If you look at a garden catalogue from the turn of the century there used to be over 100 different varieties of garden peas that you could choose from. There are now only eight commercial varieties of peas. So if there was a disease that came along and wiped out those peas, we’d have no more peas on the planet. So in order to save these different old heirloom varieties, it’s just genetic diversity. It’s just nature.

Allen: And everyone can participate in this movement just by supporting local producers. I think it’s so important to connect the producer to the consumer and the more that we can do that the more this movement will grow.

I’d like to hear about your experience on The Amazing Race.

Brent: The Amazing Race experience. It is was the worst three weeks of our lives. Except for that very last moment when we won. That was the best. For those of you don’t know, in addition to our life on the farm, two years ago we were on this TV show called The Amazing Race. The premise of The Amazing Race is that teams of two people race around the world and the team that is last one standing wins a million dollars. And so we won. And we always talk about our life and opening yourself up to the universe and taking opportunities when they are in front of you. So many times there are opportunities in front of you and they are knocking but you aren’t answering the door. For us we always are opening the door. People often ask, “Why did you decide to run The Amazing Race?” We, that was not a life goal, we had certainly seen the show.

When our first cookbook came out we were in Santa Monica, at the Santa Monica library doing a book signing. And this little old lady came up. She was like 80 years old. She had her oxygen tank that she was carrying with her. We were signing her book and she was like, “Oh I just love your TV show The Fabulous Beekman Boys and every week my next door neighbor comes over and we watch your show together. And that’s our bonding time.” We were like “Well that’s so nice.” And she’s like, “And she’s the president of CBS reality TV.” And honestly I did not believe her. So really flippantly I asked, “If she’s such a big fan, why aren’t we on The Amazing Race?” And she’s like, “I’m going to tell her.” And honestly we didn’t think another thing of it. Two days later we were at home and the phone rang. I picked it up and someone said, “Hi, we’re calling from The Amazing Race. We heard you want to run. And that’s how we got on the show. And for those who have watched our story unfold on The Fabulous Beekman Boys; that show really chronicled our attempts to start the farm and start a business that was successful enough that Josh could be there full time. And you know, I’m sure there are entrepreneurs in this group, any time you’re starting your own business you are overly optimistic. You think I’ll be successful in a few months. So we said. Josh ended up getting another job in the city which was helping cover the mortgage and we said, “Oh it will just be a year of sacrifice. We’ll live apart for a year.” Well, that turned into five years of sacrifice because if you are trying to grow a business there are always things that you don’t anticipate that you are going to have to do. It wasn’t until we ran The Amazing Race and won it that we could pay off our mortgage on the farm and he could move to the farm full time. And so as of last February he’s been at the farm full time.

P. Allen Smith with Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

You got us started on the Marshall Strawberry Project and it’s going very strongly on our farm in Fayetteville. I want you to tell everyone because it’s the most amazing thing ever. So would you explain?

Josh: Sure, actually Allen you should be doing this too. The Marshall Strawberry Project. There’s a strawberry called the Marshall strawberry that James Beard declared the best tasting strawberry in the world. This was probably in the 1950s when he would have said this. And it fell out of production completely. It was not a commercially viable strawberry. So you know those terrible strawberries you get at the supermarket today? When those took over the world the Marshall disappeared except for one plant that was at the University of Oregon as a saved specimen. This woman got the university to loan it to her so she could grow out a runner and start another Marshall and now she is sending Marshalls all over the country to have different farms grow them out. I tell you, we planted them last year. This was the first year we had fruit and they are the best strawberries I’ve ever had. So look it up If anybody loves to good strawberry, the Marshall Strawberry Project.

P. Allen Smith, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

Tell us the story about how the three of you met.

Allen: I had been invited to participate in an event at Sotheby’s called the Art of Farming that Brent was very involved in and I guess you were too Josh. It was really exciting. It was a black tie event at Sotheby’s to raise awareness about local food and to benefit the schools in the inner city to teach children where food comes from. I only participated in that I provided some art and we sold some fowl. We actually shipped the birds to the winner bidders. And all I have to tell you is that I wish I could sell chickens every day for the price we sold them at Sotheby’s!

Brent: That project, it was the first time that Sotheby’s had ever auctioned off vegetables and probably live chickens. It was actually a really amazing evening and we ended up raising about half a million dollars. Allen gave one of his paintings. It was really amazing.

Brent Ridge, P. Allen Smith and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

I’m just wondering if there will be another Beekman television program.

Brent: Yes, so the question is whether we are going to do another show and we are always working on new ideas. So you never know. Maybe we’ll do a show with Allen? You never know. Maybe we’ll take over his farm and he’ll come up and take over our farm. You never know.

What an enchanting night with the Beekman Boys. It was a beautiful blissfully cool evening.

Our next farm to table dinner will be on October 15, 2014. That’s a Wednesday night. It will be with Regina Charboneau from Natchez Mississippi. She’ll be cooking up some recipes from her latest book Mississippi Current. And our special guest will be Rebecca Darwin from Garden and Gun magazine. So I hope you can join us. Find out more about the event and purchase tickets.

Back to School Tote Giveaway

United Solutions Hands-Free ToteIt’s back to school time! Do you have someone in your life who is headed back to school? Help them take a load off with this hands free tote from United Solutions. Whether it be for a move, school books or to carry laundry from the laundry mat, this tote will give them a hand. I use it around the house and it’s been incredibly helpful!

I like it so much that I’ve partnered with United Solutions after testing it out and we’re giving away one hands-free tote each month until the end of the year. If you’d like to enter to win one, tell me what you need to tote to make back to school easier in the comments section!

100,000 Fan Giveaway

#meetmeinLR

Yahoo! We’re rolling up on 100,000 fans on my Facebook page! As a way to say thank you I’m going to select one of you to visit my hometown Little Rock, Arkansas, tour Moss Mountain Farm and tape a segment with me for my show!

To throw your hat in the ring all you need to do is post a video my Facebook wall (www.Facebook.com/GardenHomeRetreat) describing what project or recipe you’d like to share and what you’d like to see while you are in Little Rock.. The person with the winning video will be flown to Little Rock for a weekend stay and opportunity to co-host a segment with me for my half hour show.

Here are the deets:

  • Post a short (90 secs or less) video on my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/GardenHomeRetreat) describing what project or recipe you’d like to share and what you’d like to see while you are in Little Rock.
  • You can post your video anytime between July 25, 2014 and 11:59 a.m. CST August 29, 2014.
  • The giveaway prize includes airfare (one ticket) for the winner to come to Little Rock and two tickets to an open house tour at Moss Mountain Farm. Accommodations for two at an area hotel, a $250 gift card for meals and admission to select Little Rock attractions.

OFFICIAL RULES

By entering and participating in the “100,000 Fans Giveaway”, you agree to the Official Rules of the contest and the posting etiquette guidelines. You also understand that your entry, image and all personal information provided by you may be shared with the sponsor(s) of this contest.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

CONTEST SCHEDULE
Contest Submission Period:
Friday, July 25, 2014, 8:00 a.m. CST Site Open
Friday, August 29, 2014, 11:59 a.m. CST Site Closed
Friday, September 05, 2014, 10:30 a.m. CST Winner Announced

How to Enter: Beginning 8:00 a.m., Central Standard Time (“CST”) on Friday, July 25, 2014 until 11:59 a.m. CST on Friday, August 29, 2014 (“Contest Submission Period”), you may submit a video to Allen’s Facebook wall (http://www.facebook.com/gardenhomeretreat) for a chance to win a trip to Little Rock to see the sights, tour the farm and tape a segment with Allen. Video must include a project or recipe idea and why you want to visit Little Rock. Please no obscene or offensive content. Submissions must be an original work product of the Entrant. All entries must meet contest criteria and will be approved before posting to the contest website.

Eligibility: This contest is open to legal U.S. (void in Puerto Rico) 18 years of age or older by August 29, 2014. Employees, officers and contractors (including immediate family members and members of the same household) of the Sponsors, their affiliated companies, subsidiaries, distributors, dealers, retailers, vendors, advertising and promotion agencies, and any and all other companies associated with this contest are not eligible to participate. Contest void where restricted or prohibited by law.

By participating in this contest you hereby agree that you have been granted permission to use the image and likeness of the garden or outdoor space you are submitting. Furthermore you agree that photos not copyrighted and they have not been previously published.

Date of award & Prize package:
The winner of the “100,000 Fan Giveaway” will be announced on Friday, September 05, 2014. The trip to Little Rock, Arkansas will be scheduled for fall 2014 at the discretion of the Sponsors

Prize package includes:
Airfare (one ticket) for the winner to come to Little Rock and provide two tickets to an open house tour at Moss Mountain Farm. Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (LRCVB) will pay for accommodations for two at an LRCVB selected hotel, as well as provide the winner with a $250 gift card for meals and provide admission to select Little Rock attractions.

Notification: Winners will be selected by merit of entry. The winner will be notified by Facebook message.

Potential Winners will be required to sign a Release of Liability and, unless prohibited by law, a Contest Participant Release Form and return same, fully-executed, within ten (10) days of date of issuance of prize notification. If Sponsor is unable to contact the potential Winner, if the potential Winner fails to return all forms fully-executed by the specified date or if potential Winner fails to comply with these Official Rules, or if any prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, such potential Winner will be disqualified and, at Sponsor’s discretion, an alternate Winner shall be selected. By accepting the prize, Winner consents to the use by Sponsor and its designees of his/her name, screen name, city and state of residence, in any and all media now or hereafter known, including online announcements, throughout the world in perpetuity, without additional compensation, notification or permission, except where prohibited by law.

Conditions: Illegible/incomplete entries will be discarded. Entries void if defective, altered, forged, or if submitted/obtained outside authorized channels. This contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, municipal, and local laws and regulations. This offer is void where prohibited and/or restricted by law. Entries that are out of focus, blurred, unclear or unreadable images or postings that are illegible, late, miss-posted or corrupt will not be posted and considered void. All rulings by the judges are final.

Sponsors:
Hortus Ltd.
P. O. Box 164870
Little Rock, AR 72216
www.PAllenSmith.com

Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
101 S. Spring Street
Little Rock, AR 72203
www.littlerock.com

Destination Northwest Arkansas

I know I know… You’re headed up to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. And you’re going to love it because it’s one of the most amazing places in Arkansas. But did you know the whole northwest portion of the state is filled with exciting things to do as well as some of the best food the region has to offer? In fact four Bentonville restaurant chefs where invited to cook at the James Beard Foundation in New York because, well, they’re just that good!

Boston Mountains in Northwest Arkansas

To help you get the most out of the trip I’ve created a Northwest Arkansas itinerary for you, which includes art, gardens, and of course food!

  1. Pig Trail Scenic Byway – If it’s on your route be sure to take the short cut between Ozark and Fayetteville lovingly referred to as the Pig Trail. This winding two-lane highway through the Ozark Mountains offers spectacular views, especially in spring and fall. Jump on Highway 23 just past Ozark and enjoy 19 miles of beautiful scenery. To get to Fayetteville take a left on Highway 16 at Brashears.
  2. Coffee Break – The first stop on your way to Crystal Bridges is Fayetteville. It’s a university town with lots of charm. I always like to take a coffee break on my road trips so I can stretch my legs. At Mama Carmen’s Café I can do some good while I’m at it. Mama Carmen’s was born out of a partnership with the namesake who runs an orphanage in Guatemala City. The café purchases the beans grown on Mama Carmen’s farm as well as donating 10% of the profits to the orphanage. And the coffee is good to boot. www.mamacarmen.com
  3. Garden Tour – While in Fayetteville be sure to visit the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. There are 12 gardens to discover plus a butterfly house. www.bgozarks.org
  4. Lunch – The next town you’ll pass through on your way to Bentonville is Rogers. The historic downtown area is delightful with brick roads and classic storefronts. There are a number of wonderful restaurants, but I suggest Heirloom Food + Wine. Everything is made from scratch using only fresh, local ingredients – they even make the bread and condiments! Every day they create a soup, salad and sandwich based on what’s in season. www.heirloomfoodandwine.com
  5. Garden Tour and Crystal Bridges – From Rogers it’s just a 15 minute drive to Bentonville home of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Either before or after visiting the museum take a stroll along the woodland trail at Compton Gardens. This public park is open from dawn to dusk and is a wonderful place to pick up ideas for using native plants. www.peelcompton.org  crystalbridges.org
  6. Dinner – At this point you’re probably looking to sit back, relax with a good meal. Petit Bistro is a French Mediterranean restaurant that is sure to please. Delicious 5 star recipes that is the perfect way to end a great day in northwest Arkansas. petitbistro.biz

Whew, that’s one very big day. If you decide to make it a weekend trip, I suggest the 21c Museum Hotel. It’s within walking distance of the museum and located right on the town square. Remember, there are so many more things to do here and all over Arkansas. The best way to find them is to visit Arkansas.com.

Lakeside Leisure Hands-Free Tote Giveaway

Win a Hands-Free Tote!

As a child, one of my favorite summer treats was heading to the lake. My mom would announce that we could go, that she’d drive us out for a day, and it would send us kids into a tizzy of excitement. We’d crowd into the car, sometimes with a neighborhood friend who was allowed to come along, and piled between us, on top of us and crammed into every space available, we’d have all our stuff— a cooler filled with ice, snacks, towels, folding chairs and toys. My siblings and I would swim, run around and nap on the lake’s beach. At twilight, we’d wedge all our gear back in the car and climb back in, sandy and sweaty, dozing off on the ride home. I’m so grateful for those times.

Going to the lake is still something I inherently associate with the heat of deep summer—with fireworks, food and friendship and grilling, sunburn and sand. One thing that can be said of the south is that it’s peppered with swimming holes, rivers, creeks, “secret” fishing spots and plenty of lakes, warm enough to swim in. We’ve no shortage of water here, and I try to make it out to the lake at least once every summer.
United Solutions Hands-Free Tote
Now as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found I have no fewer things to tote for a day at the lake. I’m still bringing the towels, the chairs and the food. When I was younger, we’d stack our towels in big baskets and drag them out to the beach or carry all the items separately. These days I’m using a hands-free tote from United Solutions. It’s pretty handy while being lightweight yet sturdy and I’ve found it tremendously helpful! I don’t have to drag it along the ground to get the shore line.

I like it so much that I’ve partnered with United Solutions after testing it out and we’re giving away one hands-free tote each month until the end of the year. If you’d like to enter to win one, tell me what you’ll tote this summer in the comments section! Happy lake days to all of you!

The winner for August in the Life Needs a Tote Giveaway is Jeanne Link! Thank you to everyone for entering! We’re giving one tote away each month until the end of the year. Click here to enter again.