Roadtrip: Altus Grapefest

 

Nestled in the fertile hills beneath the Ozark Mountains lies one of my favorite places on earth.  Deep down a curvy road completely shaded by overhanging trees lies the community of Altus.  Altus is known for one thing and one thing only: it’s the home of Arkansas’ wineries.  The two biggest and oldest wineries make their home here (Post Familie and Wiederkehr) as well as several smaller wineries (Mount Bethel, St. James) and the newest and most elaborate (Chateaux Aux Arc pronounced “Ozark”…get it?).  I make a pilgrimage here each fall to amble through the wineries, visit the Subiaco Academy Monastery and hike around Mt. Magazine.  It’s always a wonderful way to welcome autumn.  Unfortunately, harvest time at the wineries is long gone by that time of year and I’ve never got to see them in full glory so I decided to change that.  Continue reading

Altered Book Workshop

The Bentonville Public Library recently held an altered book workshop for teens.  I’d been looking at holding one of these at our library and my son has grown attached to the idea of learning how to do them himself as a new creative outlet.  The workshop took place on a Friday afternoon and it was the third they had offered that week.  They had done one for elementary aged youth and one for the tween set.

 

 

The books we were given to use had been donated to the library but were not going to be added to the collection.  Since they had served their purpose already, the workshop director thought they were the perfect selections to use as a foundation for our altered books.  My book, incidentally, was entitled Knots & Connections which is actually a bit ironic considered the theme of my altered book.

 

The workshop started with a set of example books to help give us ideas.  They had all been completed earlier in the week and ranged from board books (from the younger workshop) to a quite detailed scrapbook style book created prior to this workshop.

 

 

After deciding on a theme for our books, our first task was to divide into groups.  One group went to create a wordle (my kids are overly familiar with wordle thanks to HPFF and NaNoWriMo so they helped out the others with this task).  The other group sat down to go through dozens of discarded magazines in search of pictures for our books.  Speaking of HPFF, it wouldn’t be my life if Harry didn’t make an appearance:

 

I ignored Harry (forgive me) and decided to go with a more subdued color scheme.

 

 

After photos and the wordle were designed, it was time to get to work on the book covers.  M’s book theme was mobsters and he was lucky enough to find a picture depicting Atlantic City casinos so he was first to get to work on assembling his cover.

 

 

While we waiting for our photos to soak in a cellophane transfer (which I’ll describe in a later how-to blog), we began the cutting and piecing to work on the inside of our books.  And…made a mess.

 

 

 

In a little over two hours, our books were covered and altered and ready to take home! (left to right: Mine (Atlantic City boardwalk; D’s: Warcraft; M’s: mobsters)

 

 

Since leaving the workshop, I’ve continued to work on my altered book.  I have a few pages prepped and ready for embellishment.  M decided he preferred writing and that it goes against his upbringing to destroy books (even if they are bad ones!) while D has found a used book to start over with utilizing a music theme this time.

 

 

RoadTrip: Bentonville, AR

Known the world over as the home of Walmart, Bentonville, Arkansas isn’t exactly a tourist mecca.  It’s nearest neighbor, Fayetteville, is known for being home of the Arkansas Razorbacks but it too only draws a certain type of visitor.  Recently, I had the opportunity to take a road trip through both towns but more interesting was some of the most scenic driving I’ve ever seen in the US.

 

We started out going through towns we previously visited like London (home of….we’re not sure) and Alma (home of the Arkansas Wine Trail) and then turned off up into the mountains all while singing “You are My Sunshine” over and over…and over. With hills, bluffs and trees for miles in every direction, there was a stunning view through every window.

     

The boys got crazy excited when we came around one bend and found ourselves face to face with a mountain that had been tunneled out for passage.

 

We’d been driving for several hours by now and decided it was time for a food stop.  We tried to find a place called “Buck Nekkid BBQ” which we had been seeing billboards for but google maps failed us and we ended up at a Dairy Queen instead.

 

D ordered a confetti blizzard for dessert and made sure to test it’s anti-gravity properties before digging in.

After fueling up at the fabulously named gas station, we continued on.

 

Finally, we’d reached our destination!  The Bentonville Public Library: home of the altered book workshop.

 

By the way, this library has a dinosaur in it!!  I was bouncing I was so excited over this find!!

Next up: The Altered Book Workshop which was tons of fun and may be a new addiction in our household.

Toad Suck Daze: The Toad Races

“Only in Arkansas” is what people kept repeating (tourists and locals alike) when it came time for the toad races.  I’ve been hearing about these for years but have never been.  I imagined them just a little novelty thing for kids.  Oh, how I was mistaken.  People take these races so very seriously.  People brought their own toads for goodness sakes!  They lined up carrying little boxes with their beloved racers inside.  And the sponsors had giant trophies to award…full size golden trophies.  I had no idea toad racing was such serious business.

We do not own toads (nor would I allow the boys to bring one home after the race to their supreme disappointment) so the kids lined up to borrow one.  Ever the future vet, D was excited to see the toads were well cared for and housed in little “Toad Condos”.

 

They were given little racing visors that looked like toads (which my kids quickly got rid of as soon as they were past the official Toadmaster) and then they were in the second wave of racers.  They had to name their toads – one was named Hoppy and the other Alex.  The Toadmaster wanted to know if Alex was named after my son’s friend…he informed him “No, he’s a book character. Don’t you read?”  which caused the Toadmaster to fall silent as he tried to come up with a response.  Poor guy.  While one son was charming the crowd with his amusing book review, the other was trying to cheat…note how he’s sneaking his toad ahead of the starting line.

 

 

Utter bedlam ensued as the race started and 12 toads began hopping everywhere.  Both of my boys had escaping toads and ended up chasing them around the pavilion more than getting them to stay in the racing lane.

las they did not win the golden trophies but came home with participant ribbons and the memory that they’ve actually raced live toads.  I can only guess this is important because they are little males and think this will somehow be a thing to brag about amongst their friends.  Not quite sure but I know they haven’t stopped talking about it yet.