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InArkansas Blog

Eat, Play, Shop, Live, Visit, Work. Your daily stop for the latest on all things Arkansas, including your comments. Send blog tips and feedback to InArkansas.com Associate Editor Lauren James here.
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Wedding Party Gift Idea: PANDORA Jewelry

Pandora’s Ring upon Ring Collection. • Pandora in Park Plaza

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Want to do something special for your bridesmaids, mom, wedding planners or anyone else in your wedding party who has helped make your big day a special one?

We think a piece of PANDORA jewelry is the perfect gift! 

Choose from a variety of charms, bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants and watches to express your personal connection. We love how you can choose genuine 14k and 18k gold or sterling silver and pick from one of the vibrant gemstones, stones and cultured pearl selections. Get a look at all of your options here!

For more inspiration and to purchase these personalized gifts, head over to Wilkerson Jewelers, 222 S. Main St., Stuttgart, or the PANDORA Store at the Park Plaza Mall, 6000 W. Markham St., Little Rock.

Free Professional Bull Riders Event at Bass Pro Shops Little Rock This Weekend

Image by Tyler Rosenthal

Drop by Bass Pro Shops Little Rock this weekend (July 26 & 27) for a family-friendly event hosted by the outdoor store and Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR). The free family fun includes crafts, face painting, costume contests, bull roping and free gifts.

From noon-4 p.m. July 26 & 27, kids can make a cactus cowboy craft, show off roping skills in the bull roping arena (don't worry, parents -- no live bulls!), have their faces painted like Flint the Entertainer, and saddle up a stick horse to race friends.

Plus, on Sunday, July 27, kids can participate in a Cowboy and Cowgirl costume contest. One winner will receive a $50 Bass Pro Shops Gift Card. Judging will begin at 2:30 p.m.

For more info on the PBR Family Event at Bass Pro Shops Little Rock, click here.

Movies in the Park: This Week's Feature is Friday Night Lights

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Dream of fall and football season this Wednesday (July 23) at the free outdoor showing of the flick "Friday Night Lights" (rated PG-13). The 2004 film starring Billy Bob Thornton is this week's Movies in the Park screening at Riverfront Park's First Security Amphitheatre.

Movies in the Park presents free films screened outdoors at the First Security Amphitheatre in Little Rock's River Market. Audiences can bring picnics (no glass containers) and settle onto the grassy field or snag seats in the amphitheater. Concessions will be available for purchase, including soft drinks, candy and popcorn, hot dogs, ice cream and more.

The park opens at 6:30 p.m., and films begin at sundown. The final film of the Movies in the Park 2014 season will be "E.T." on July 30. For more information, click here.

Taste of Tuesday: Latin American Gazpacho with Avocado Corn Salsa

Image by Steve Shuler

July is one of the best months of the year for food in Arkansas! First and foremost, it's because of the abundant tomato harvest that can be found at just about any farmers market in the city. Of course, one of the best preparations of the Arkansas tomato is simply to slice it, add a little salt and enjoy. That’s perhaps the best way to eat them, but if you want to add a little variety to your food, try making gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a classic chilled soup from southern Spain, using tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers and other fresh ingredients. However, my favorite way to make gazpacho is with a New World twist, using flavors of Latin America to amplify the fresh flavors of all the vegetables. Any way you do it, gazpacho is a wonderful way to celebrate summer, enjoy some delicious Arkansas produce and help support Arkansas farmers.

Latin American Gazpacho with Avocado Corn Salsa

Makes about 6 cups

  • 2 ears of corn
  • Olive oil
  • 1 avocado, still firm
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 limes
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1 small cucumber, stem removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, stemmed and seeded, roughly chopped
  • Salt

Remove the husks from the corn and coat the ears in olive oil. On a grill or grill pan over medium heat, grill the corn on all sides until brown and black marks start to show, about 10 minutes. Set the ears aside and let cool.

In a food processor or blender, add tomatoes, cucumber and bell peppers. Add 1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded. Add half the cilantro, stems and leaves. Add juice of 1.5 limes. Add salt to taste. Seal blender or food processor and pulse until all vegetables are chopped. Set on low and slowly add ¼ cup of olive oil. Blend until incorporated but still chunky. Taste and adjust salt accordingly. Set in fridge to chill for one hour.

After corn has cooled, cut corn from the ears and place in a bowl. Add ¼ cup of cilantro leaves only, finely chopped. Add 1 jalapeño, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped. Remove avocado from its peel and dice, adding to the salsa mixture. Squeeze juice from ½ lime over the salsa and add salt to taste. Stir gently to combine, seal and place in the fridge.

To serve, pour gazpacho into a bowl and top with a generous portion of the salsa.

Note: If you want to prepare the classic gazpacho recipe, remove the jalapeños, cilantro and lime juice. Add 4 cloves of garlic, ¼ cup of red wine vinegar and ¼ cup of basil leaves, firmly packed. Serve garnished with additional thinly sliced basil leaves.

 

Junior League of Little Rock Starts Work on Nonprofit Center

The Junior League of Little Rock recently began work on a nonprofit center at its Scott Street location.

Lindsey Gray, president, says after the Junior League purchased the building in 2002, there has always been a three-part plan in place. Step one was renovating the first and second floors for meeting space and events. Step two was putting in a kitchen. Step three started last week with work on the nonprofit center.

It's hoped to provide room for several nonprofits to work together, grow and prosper. The center will offer 3,158-SF of space, and include seven offices, a conference room, resource center and restrooms.

Nonprofits will be able to rent space in the center at a price below market value.

"We hope it helps immensely in a place to foster ideas in the collaborative spirit, but we want them to outgrow it," Gray said. "In the meantime, they will have a chance to have a lower rent, shared equipment, board room and workspace, things they couldn't have on their own."

The $350,000 project is being funded through the Building a Legacy Capital Campaign. While the fundraising is over, Gray said the Junior League will always accept more donations for operating costs.

The center is hoped to open early next year.

The Junior League will accept applications from nonprofits for the space between October and November. The applications will be reviewed by an advisory council.

For a list of what nonprofits will need to apply, click here. You can also call the Junior League at 375-5557 or email NonProfitCenter@JLLR.org.

Go-and-Do: Learn How to Cook with Craft Beer

Want to learn how to cook with craft beer?

Arkansas Craft Distributors is giving you the chance to learn how to do just that Thursday night!

The $75 course will explore the ways beer can add flavor and complexity to various dishes. The class will be taught by Chef Billy Ginocchio. 

You must be 21 to register for the class. To do that, click here.

The class will be in the Community Kitchen at the Pulaski Technical College's Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Institute, located at 1300 Interstate 30. The class runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Used Book Sale to Benefit Central Arkansas Libraries

Friends of Central Arkansas Libraries (FOCAL) is hosting a used book sale this Friday through Sunday. 

The sale will be held in the basement of the Main Library, 100 Rock Street. Paperbacks are 50 cents, and hardbacks are $1.

Here's the schedule:

Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

FOCAL members may enter at 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday; FOCAL memberships will be available at the door. Teachers and librarians with institutional identification will receive an additional 25% off their purchases in the Main Library basement.

Funds from the book sale are donated to the Central Arkansas Library System and help provide programs at branches, book club kits, Summer Reading Club materials, and special Saturday programming for children at the Main Library. For more information about the sale, call 918-3000 or check the website, www.cals.org. To volunteer at the FOCAL book sale, email adelaney@cals.org or call 918-3095.

Networking for the Homeschooling Family

“Wow, I could never do that,” say most people when I tell them that I homeschool my children. Questioning them generally reveals that a lot of parents feel inadequate to home educate. They think that if they don’t have a college degree, or if they never took algebra, or if they cannot speak a foreign language, then they are ill-equipped to teach these things to their kids.

But homeschooling doesn’t require that you actually teach your children everything—as long as you provide the means by which the child learns. As homeschooling mom of six Lori Murafka-Orme puts it, “I will admit I’m not able to teach everything…that’s OK. It’s important to recognize your weaknesses and figure out ways around them.”

Perhaps you’ve gotten up the courage to take the plunge, remove your children from a conventional school setting, and homeschool them; but you have no clue where to begin. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Networking

New homeschoolers must network. Visit a support group. To find one, ask at your public library or search online. Join one that fits the needs and personalities of your family, making friends for yourself and your children. Homeschooling mom Christie Clark feels that, especially for the first five years, a support group is a necessity. “The amount of support and encouragement,” she says, “is imperative.”

Co-ops

For several years my family hosted a small co-op in our home. Two other families joined us every Friday to study language, science, state history and nutrition. All our children were close in age, making the lessons easier to prepare. Each mom taught either what she felt comfortable with or had certain qualifications to teach. We changed classes with each semester. If you cannot find an established co-op, and would like to start your own, I recommend Homeschool Co-ops 101 by homeschooling parent Karen Lange.

Bartering

Lorene left an engineering career when she had her first child. She teaches algebra for moms that feel unqualified to do so in exchange for other services. Holly, an accomplished artist, teaches art to homeschoolers. Mike hosts a chess club in his home. How do you find these parents willing to share their knowledge with more than their own children? Network—meet people and make your needs (and strengths) known.

Community Service

My daughter wanted to learn cake decorating. We found a class at a craft store in a nearby city. She took several classes there and excelled in each one. My son wants to learn photography. Our county Parks and Recreation Department offers just the course. We struggled to learn Spanish together as a family. We were unsure of ourselves and inconsistent. Then we saw an ad in the paper for free Spanish classes offered at a local church. The instructor? A retired college Spanish professor wanting to make a difference. We are now well on our way to understanding our Hispanic neighbors.

Private Tutors

Some families hire private tutors for the subjects with which they feel uncomfortable. Murafka-Orme feels that what works best for her family is to pay for services or to participate in co-ops that charge a fee. “This way everyone is on the same page and knows the expectations being set,” she says. To find tutors, ask older homeschooling moms in your support group or call the local schools. Many teachers moonlight tutoring and some may recommend their brightest students for the job.

Dual Enrollment

For high school juniors and seniors, dual enrollment at a local community college is an option. The child gets both high school and college credit for the courses taken. Clark, who has homeschooled her four children for 11 years, says that “the community colleges are accepting of homeschoolers and this is an excellent avenue for the higher math, science, and foreign languages courses.”

Internet/Computer/Correspondence courses

A myriad of educational opportunities exist online. Several math and science curricula now offer companion DVD’s that tutor the student. Bob Jones University offers a satellite school. Pam Bishop uses a Catholic correspondence program called Mother of Divine Grace School. “They offer day-by-day curriculum as well as call-in classes,” Bishop says. “A student can also send in their papers for grading and receive feedback from teachers.”

Finally, remember the local library. Library personnel generally keep abreast of community affairs and are always willing to help. When we moved from one state to another, I first asked at the library. The woman at the desk gave me the phone number of the leader for a local support group. The rest is history.

Online resources to consider:

The Homeschool Lounge is a place for homeschool moms to connect for support, encouragement, fellowship and fun. 

The Homeschool Village offers articles written by homeschool moms giving sound advice, suggestions, and encouragement.

Parent at the Helm was created by veteran homeschooling parent Linda Dobson. Dobson describes herself as a homeschool mom turned grandma turned full-time advocate for intellectually freeing children from the confines of government (public) schooling. PATH is the place to find the impetus to take charge of your child’s education…no matter where that may come from.

 

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What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of InArkansas.com be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make InArkansas.com your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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