Wilderness, Women, and Wow!

The sun shone through the windows of Blue Sail coffee one May morning when I ordered a cup of their locally roasted but exotic sounding brew and settled in for a visit with Georgia Pellegrini, a nationally recognized hunting and lifestyle expert. I had been introduced to Georgia by mutual friends who thought my particular event experience might be beneficial to her as she planned her Arkansas Adventure Getaway weekend for 15 women from around the country. 

We relaxed into conversation quickly as we sipped coffee and chit-chatted about mutual friends and interest. Georgia laid out the plan for her project and my mind began to swirl with ideas. "What about this..." or "Have you visited..." or "Maybe so-and-so could help us..." By the end of the visit I was invested. I wanted these women to come to Arkansas, and experience Southern Hospitality. As I told Georgia, as a graduate of Texas Woman's University, I recognize the important bond between women that often goes unspoken and that I can see how events like her Adventure Getaways help to empower women to try things outside their comfort zone. 

We took the elements Georgia had already put together, met with hospitality experts, wildlife officials, and more... and over several months the event took shape with an exciting mix of urban and rustic experiences.

Trolley Ride in Downtown Little Rock

Trolley Ride in Downtown Little Rock

With a lack of publicly available hunting lodges for the guests we began pursuing an itinerary that would have the ladies headquartered at the Capital Hotel. Each morning the ladies would receive a box breakfast delivered to their door before a busy day out in nature. Georgia even did a social media segment with Chef Matt about those amazing Capital Hotel biscuits

Secret Sisters at South on Main

Secret Sisters at South on Main

Excursions were planned with Little Rock Convention and Visitors for a Thursday trolley ride through downtown with a tour by LRCVB, then a shrub (cocktail) making class followed by dinner at South on Main with Chef Matt and Amy Bell. After, guests enjoyed a concert from Secret Sisters coordinated by the Oxford American. Thursday proved to be a full day filled with great kick-off memories. 

Arkansas Game and Fish Firing Range, Conway

Arkansas Game and Fish Firing Range, Conway

Friday morning the ladies set off to the newly renovated Dr. James E. Moore Camp Robinson Firing Range with the Arkansas Game and Fish. The ladies practiced archery, handgun use, and trap shooting with Grace Brown, a USA Shooting Collegiate Champion. As the morning wore on, bonds were formed and confidence grew. Lunch was sponsored by the LRCVB at the Third Floor Clark Room at the Rivermarket where Chef Mary Beth Ringgold of Copper Grill provided an amazing mid-day feast prior to Georgia's cooking demonstration. Needless to say, we were stuffed!

Rivermarket Lunch and Cooking Class

Rivermarket Lunch and Cooking Class

Fishing in Scott 

Fishing in Scott 

Following lunch the ladies were whisked off to Scott, Arkansas, to fish on the property of Judy and Randy Wilbourn. When we pulled up, the ladies were greeted with margaritas and gracious hospitality. We giggled that "we had found our tribe." AG&F along with the Wilbourn family took small groups out on boats to fish for brim while others cast from the dock for catfish. Everyone who wanted to was able to catch a fish and at the end of the excursion fish was fried up for the guests to sample. Delish! 

Dinner at Marlsgate

Dinner at Marlsgate

The first evening ended with a tour and meal at historic Marlsgate Plantation in nearby Scott. Our hosts, Beau and Martha Ellen Talbot, made sure the guests felt welcome with Jefferson Davis punch followed by a meal the ladies were still talking about the next day when I met up with them-- especially the pumpkin bread pudding dessert and one even said that they know jambalaya and that the jambalaya at Marlsgate was perfection .  

Hunting in a Sunflower Field

Hunting in a Sunflower Field

Saturday morning dawned early for the ladies-- at 5 AM they ventured from their posh accommodations into the rustic world of Arkansas teal hunting. AG&F provided guidance as the ladies perched on overturned buckets in a field that only a month prior had been home to thousands of sunflowers. The morning hunt yielded only one bird (but many smiles) which Georgia used as part of a hunting field dressing demonstration, reserving the feathers for a special jewelry project later in the night. 

A hearty appetite was worked up and the crew was most appreciative of Charlotte's Eats and Sweets in Keo followed by antiquing in the neighboring stores. The pies at Charlotte's are the stuff of legends and the coconut cream and lemon meringue I tried (but didn't get a chance to photograph) did not disappoint. 

Steel Wings lodge served as a mid-day respite and the ideal location for duck calling expert John Stephens, accompanied by his lovely wife Angie, to visit with the ladies about his historic collection of calls, the history and craftsmanship of duck calls, and John's special work with his signature line of calls. He passed out molded duck calls and led an impromptu class with the ladies. 

Historic Duck Call From the Collection of John Stephens 

Historic Duck Call From the Collection of John Stephens 

Capital Hotel Sweet Potato Torte 

Capital Hotel Sweet Potato Torte 

After a brief afternoon hunt the ladies returned to the Capital Hotel where they attended a jewelry making workshop held by Brandy Thompson McNair of Bella Vita Jewelry. Each attendee was able to take home a pair of bird feather earrings. An amazing dinner was enjoyed in the Capital Hotel's exclusive wine cellar cumulating in a dessert of sweet potato torte in a white chocolate shell topped with roasted whipped cream.

As if that wasn't enough of a goodbye celebration, Sunday morning the ladies made their way to The Ranch neighborhood where they crossed a rustic field on land cared for by The Nature Conservancy to do morning meditation lead by Lindsey Petruk followed by kayaking with guides for the Arkansas Canoe and Kayak Club. The two hours on the water allowed the women to enjoy bald cypress and wild life up close.

One of my favorite images from the entire weekend... the ladies in kayaks exploring Arkansas from a unique vantage point. 

One of my favorite images from the entire weekend... the ladies in kayaks exploring Arkansas from a unique vantage point. 

        All photos (c) Mandy Shoptaw, 2017 

Summer Catch Up

I wish I could say I write this while lounging by a pool or from my personal favorite vacation spot, a rooftop in Italy, but alas, this summer I have been busy working, networking, and enjoying the respite from the busy school year when the day revolves around morning drop off, homework, mealtime, and bedtime routines. 

So here's a quick catch up:

My client list has been updated and we are so proud of the growth since launching in February. Check out the updated client page here! 

Thanks to KATV's Saturday Daybreak for having me on to talk about July 4 brunch (because I love brunch) where I was able to work in client products for Eggshells Kitchen Company and Catering to You/CTY, too! You can see the segment here!  

I got a call about three weeks out from a wedding from a couple who needed some help with locating vendors and with the set up/clean up of the ceremony. Luckily I was able to help and it was a great wedding. So proud to be part of Eva and Joy's big day! 

Eva and Joy's wedding at Bernice Garden in the SOMA area of Little Rock.

Eva and Joy's wedding at Bernice Garden in the SOMA area of Little Rock.

While I don't do as many special events as I used to I do have a couple of fall weddings that are going to be fun to report on: One at the Loft 1023 and one at Goodwin Manor, both in Little Rock. 

And speaking of special events, I have been working with a nationally recognized lifestyle authority on a private fall event and our scouting has allowed us to visit some amazing locals including a personal tour of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion and a new winery coming to Arkansas, Rusty Tractor Vineyards

Looking forward to sharing more about this adventure in the months to come... in the meantime, I'm learning so much about my own state. 

Mint Simple Syrup Soda

Mint Simple Syrup Soda

#ShoptawsOnTallyho (our home) has been the location of much socialization as we try to use this down time to catch up with friends and family throughout the summer. I like to share ideas and recipes on my personal Instagram page: msshoptaw.

Wishing you a wonderful summer filled with rest and relaxation. 

Daydreaming

Dreamy Bride 1960s

Lately I can’t stop daydreaming (see blog post The Creative Brain): daydreaming about spring, about the wedding events I am coordinating, the clients I am working with, and the ones I have proposals out to, and about the home improvements I want to make, and about travel, and... and... and (the list goes on).

One of the ways I get a handle on these ideas is to write lists and make plans (even if they are just maps for me). The other day my son came home and we had to make some drastic changes in his screen time, namely we had to take away the Xbox for several weeks until his grades improve. When we visited about getting organized I told him that I was about his age when I realized that I couldn’t keep all of the information floating around inside my head organized without writing it down. I’m hoping he will have a light bulb moment and say, “Ah ha, that’s what she’s talking about” soon. Seriously, fingers crossed.

I have also learned that I need a clean, clutter free, and organized space around me to help with my creativity. Not only do I want my space to be visitor friendly but I want to eliminate distractions and be able to freely focus my resources on each and every project. That’s why Mondays I can often be found tidying up from the weekend and setting up the week ahead. 

This is where many Mad Housewife meetings take place.

This is where many Mad Housewife meetings take place.

At Mad Housewife, we want to give every client our very best. We want work with our clients to provide unique content that helps market them on social media. Let our creativity do the work for you. We’ll post to your social media and free up your time so that you can do the things you do best.