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!

Laguna Pond Makeover Revealed

Who doesn’t want that perfect sanctuary or getaway? And what if you could get it for free? That’s how we ended up in Bakersfield, California in Kelly Ashe’s backyard. Kelly entered our Laguna Ponds water garden giveaway last May.

P. Allen Smith and Laguna Ponds designed a water garden for Kelly Ashe.

It only took five hours for the Laguna team to install the pond in Kelly’s backyard. Then I stepped in with help from Monji garden center and to surround the water featured with beautiful plants.

Watch the transformation.

Create your own water feature with a terra cotta pot.

Materials:
20-inch terra cotta pot
4-inch terra cotta pot
Plumber’s epoxy
small pump with fountain attachment
water

Step 1: Plug the hole in the bottom of the of the container with plumber’s putty. Apply the putty on both the inside and the outside of the container.

Step 2: Place the 4-inch terra cotta pot upside down in the container. This will give the water pump height.

Step 3: Place the pump on the 4-inch terra cotta pot.

Step 4: Fill the container with water until the water line reaches just below the top of the fountain head.

Step 5: Add water plants if you are so inclined.

How to make a water fountain with a terra cotta pot.

Proven Winners® WaterWise™ Watering Kit

The thing that I love most about gardening is getting my hands in the soil, well almost. Actually I do love abundant beauty that flowers produce, but you know it’s that in between stuff that often gets in the way for a lot of us. Watering for instance. Keeping the soil consistently moist in containers is the key to success, which is why a use a drip irrigation kit. The one I like to use is from Proven Winners and it is so easy to assemble. It takes the work out of watering. With a single kit I can water up to ten potted plants.

Here is how easy it is to set up the Proven Winners WaterWise Container Irrigation Kit.

Attach the backflow prevent valve to your outdoor water faucet. Screw the faucet adapter onto the end of the valve.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Fauce Adpater and Nozzle

Push the end of the ¼-inch tubing onto the nozzle of the faucet adapter. This will go on easier if you wet the nozzle first.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Tubing Attached to the Backflow Valve and Nozzle

Run the tubing from the spigot to the base of your first container.

Cut the tubing and insert a barbed-tee, which is a little t-shaped piece. Insert the tubing onto the branch of the barbed-tee the points upward. Run the tubing up into the middle of the container and cut to size. Cap off the end of the tubing with a dripper.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Dripper Plugs into the End of Tubing

Next insert the tubing onto the horizontal branch of the barbed-tee and extend it over to your next container. Repeat the process until you have all of your containers outfitted with drippers.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Barded-Tee Splits the Line So You Can Water Multiple Pots

10 – 12-inch container = 1 dripper
14 – 20-inch container = 2 drippers
24-inch containers and larger = 3 drippers

The tubing is a neutral tan color that disappears among the plants, but you can further camouflage it by inserting it through the drain hole of an empty container before adding soil.

You Can Insert the Tubing Through the Drainage Hole

Depending on the weather and the size of the container you will probably water for one hour each day. Is it is really hot and dry or the container is extra larger you will need to increase the amount of time you water.

You can take all the work out of watering by purchasing a battery-operated water timer to add to the faucet. Now you won’t even have to think about watering.

Purchase a water timer to take all the work out of watering.

Click here to Purchase a Proven Winners WaterWise Container Watering Kit

Each Proven Winners WaterWise kit contains:

  • A 30-foot coil of high-quality tan-colored vinyl tubing
  • Ten 1/2 GPH pressure compensating drippers
  • Ten Barbed Tees (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Three Barbed Crosses (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Ten Nail Clamps (for positioning and holding vinyl tubing in place on wood decks or other wooden applications)
  • One Faucet Adapter
  • One Back Flow Prevention Valve
  • Ten Support Stakes (to attach and hold drippers or to train the tubing in place in landscape beds)

Pet Chickens? You bet.

About this time last year I sent my friend Mary Beth home with 2 dozen hatching eggs and one of the roosters from the group made into Cooking Light’s Fun issue and not as an entrée! And if you are considering a backyard flock, but haven’t taken the plunge yet pick up a copy of this Cooking Light and read Mary Beth’s article. You can get a sneak peek here.

The top dog at Moss Mountain Farm is not a dog at all but a rooster named Amos. Amos is a Buff Orpington you’ll find strutting around the front lawn with his entourage. I like to think of them as the welcoming committee.

Amos is one of my favorite characters at the farm. I would even go so far as to say he’s a pet, which will not come as a surprise to those who have raised chickens. Their plucky personalities can be very endearing. In fact, some folks treat their poultry with as much love and devotion as the family dog.

Thanks to products like chicken diapers birds can live indoors and special leashes allow Foghorn Leghorn to join his person on a stroll around the neighborhood. I even hear tell of chickens wearing sweaters and scarves to protect them from the cold.

Now, I adore the poultry at the farm, but I think we are all better off not being roommates. And Amos probably prefers life in the buff to wearing anything that would cover his beautiful feathers.

What about you? How do you pamper your chickens?

A Treat Toy for Chickens

The girls love this treat ball from Manna Pro.

How do you pamper your pet chickens? The Chicken Chat community weighs in.

I asked members of the Chicken Chat community to share pictures of their beloved roos and hens. Click on an image to enlarge and read about the chickens.

Faux Mercury Glass Challenge

I love DIY projects especially when you can upcycle something that’s an ordinary household object like a jelly jar. Just recently my friend and modern pioneer, Georgia Pellegrini, challenged me to add my own twist to a DIY project from her latest book Modern Pioneering.

When I saw her painted mason jars I thought, “What can I do to give these a little Moss Mountain Farm style?” And I came up with just the pioneer ordered, a stylish mercury glass look. You see in the mid-1800s in America mercury glass was used as an affordable alternative to silver. My version of Georgia’s project is an inexpensive and easy way to recreate this 19th century life hack.

Materials for Making Faux Mercury Glass
Clean mason jars
Water
White Vinegar
Spray bottle
Paper towels
Looking Glass® spray paint

Directions for Making Faux Mercury Glass:
To begin fill the spray bottle with 1 part water and 1 water vinegar and shake.

Set the nozzle of the spray bottle to a fine mist setting.

Gently spray a fine mist of the water vinegar mixture on the outside of the mason jar. The objective is to create small droplets of water that bead up and do not run.

Immediately follow up with an even coat of the Looking Glass® spray. Allow the paint to dry for just a minute and then apply a second round of the water vinegar solution. Wait about two minutes then gently blot the beads of water vinegar solution with a paper towel. Don’t rub the surface very hard or the paint will streak. A gentle pressure is good enough to achieve a realistic mercury glass look. Repeat the process three to four times rotating the jar from resting on its base to the top so you can get full coverage.

The paint needs about three hours to dry completely before you use the jars.

So now that I’ve completed my challenge I’m kicking the ball back over to Georgia and asking her to recreate a project from one of my books. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what she does and post pictures of your own DIY projects for a chance to win Georgia’s book Modern Pioneering and my cookbook, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden. When you post your picture tag @pallensmith and @georgiapellegrini and use the hashtag #modernpioneering.

Garden2Blog 2014

Garden 2 Blog is an annual event that I host at my farm where top garden bloggers from all over the country converge with industry leaders and discuss new trends. It’s really a highlight of the season and I am so looking forward to learning from it. I’m proud to call the Natural State my home and I’m excited to share it with a group of people who love being outside as much as I do. To show off some of the gardencentric characeristics of the capital city we’re going to take a tour of a few public gardens in Little Rock and the rooftop garden at the Clinton Library.

With 23 garden bloggers and 9 sponsors, we’ve got our hands full! I’m so grateful for our partners for making this event possible, because without them there would be no Garden2Blog. They are an exceptional group of industry leaders who are making great strides with their products, and I’m thrilled that they’re coming to share their knowledge.

It’s my pleasure to welcome bloggers because I’ve seen the work they do and am continually impressed with the way they merge the physical with the digital, the garden with the blog. Gardening goes back a long way in my family, and I’ve often felt that it was an art that was dying out through the generations. But these days, the virtual garden has helped revive gardening and green living. It’s now trendy to have a plot to garden in an urban setting, and this is partially due to the efforts of people sharing all the benefits of getting out in the garden online. The best part about it, though, is the wealth of knowledge becoming accessible for everyday people and new gardeners.

My mission is for us to grow in our passion for gardening by learning, and I hope that Garden2Blog 14 will advance that mission. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ll post pictures and giveaway a few goodies.

#G2B14 Bloggers
Susan Fox www.GagasGarden.com
C.L. Fornari www.GardenLady.com
Rebecca Sweet HarmonyintheGarden.com
Lisa Steele www.Fresh-Eggs-Daily.com
Kathy Purdy www.ColdClimateGardening.com
Jan Bills TwoWomenandaHoe.com
Mary Beth Shaddix www.MaryBethShaddix.com
Christina Salwitz PersonalGardenCoach.wordpress.com
Robin Horton www.UrbanGardensWeb.com
Kylee Baumle OurLittleAcre.blogspot.com
Jenny Petterson www.JPetersonGardenDesign.com
Lamanda Joy TheYarden.com
Michael Nolan www.MyEarthGarden.com
Chris Van Cleave RedneckRosarian.wordpress.com
Teresa Byington TheGardenDiary.com
Robin Wedewer BumbleBeeBlog.com
Kenny Point www.VeggieGardeningTips.com
Steve Asbell www.TheRainForestGarden.com
Kelly Smith Trimble Blog.DIYNetwork.com/MadeRemade/
Jerusalem Greer www.JollyGoodeGal.com
Janet Carson UofACEsmg.wordpress.com
Linda Ly www.GardenBetty.com
Stephanie Buckley www.TheParkWife.com
Julie Thompson Adolf JuliesGardenDelights.com
Tina Wilcox www.OzarkFolkCenter.com/herbs/yarb_tales.aspx

Books Published by G2B14ers
A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together by Jerusalem Greer
Pick Fresh by Mary Beth Shaddix
Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants by Jenny Peterson and Kylee Baumle
Four Seasons of Roses by Susan Fox
Color by Numbers by Steve Asbell
Fine Foliage by Christian Salwitz, co-authored with Karen Chapman
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens….Naturally by Lisa Steele
Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture & Form by Rebecca Sweet
I Garden: Urban Style by Michael Nolan
The Creative Herbal Home by Tina Wilcox, co-authored with Susan Belsinger
Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Wedding by C.L. Fornari
The Cape Cod Garden by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Lover’s Cape Cod by C.L. Fornari
Gardening in Sandy Soil by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Lover’s Martha’s Vineyard by C.L. Fornari

Sponsors
Proven Winners
Jobe’s Orgranics
Laguna
Flexzilla
Bonnie Plants
Troy-Bilt
Le Creuset
Hubbard Life
United Solutions
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