Argenta Market coming soon!

Got this e-mail yesterday from Jody Hardin, manager of the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market in Argenta (downtown North Little Rock). Woohoo!

December 30, 2008

Hello Locavores, we have big news!

It’s finally official.  Argenta Market will be located in what is currently Argenta Seafood, at 6th and Main St. in the historic district of Argenta in downtown N. Little Rock.

You all have heard us talking about the new Argenta Market for over a year now, and we are incredibly excited to finally announce the big news of our new location.  We hope this will be your favorite new community food source, with the widest and deepest selection of local foods in central Arkansas.  We plan to start developing the store in January and open by March.

This all came together when the Isaac brothers (Brian and Eric), owners of Argenta Seafood and Ristorante Capeo, offered the ideal location with ample space for our entire concept (5,500 sq. ft).  The Isaac brothers thought that our concept was so powerful and potentially beneficial to the future of Argenta, as well as the local food movement in Arkansas, that they agreed today to allow our group to begin the transition from a [chic] seafood restaurant and bar to a model, gourmet-specialty grocery with a local foods mission.

Additionally, we have developed a very special, mutually beneficial relationship with the Isaac brothers over the last month while we discussed the possibility of Argenta Market.  They have been most supportive while we’ve discussed ways to help each other, and with their experience and knowledge of food preparation, will all add a new and exciting dimension to the new business.

The New Argenta Group led by John Gaudin, have been instrumental in making this happen, and we are very grateful to them all.  Also, the consistent support of Mayor Patrick H. Hays and many others in the community have made this the most inspiring experience of a life time.  With the energy and planning that we have put into this we are very excited to finally know what we will be doing next year, and many more.  See you soon at Argenta Market!

Happy New Year!
And, thanks for your awesome support in 2008. Our successes in 2008 wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Barbara Armstrong
Jody Hardin
-Foodshed Farm, All Arkansas Basket A Month CSA (2007)
-Certified Arkansas Farmers‚ Market, Inc.(2008)
-Argenta Market, LLC (2009)

P.S. I hope to have more info about our business concept on our web site, soon!

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I’m supposed to be reconciling seven months of bank statements tonight (got a little behind when my bank “improved” its Web site and my statements started showing up too blurry to read, but that’s a whole ‘nother post).

But when I turned on the computer, I found something way better – an e-mail from one of my dear friends from high school. Last time Lynn and I saw each other was the day of my dad’s funeral, 11 years ago Dec. 26.We had e-mailed a few times since then, and talked on the phone once or twice, but I lost all of my contacts in the great computer upgrade a few years ago. (Ain’t technology great?)

This year Lynn’s mom died, but my job prevented me from driving up for the funeral, and I had asked my mom to get her current address so I could offer my condolences. She had changed her e-mail address since last time I tried to connect wirelessly, so I had neglected our relationship. And then Mom didn’t get around to procuring the new mailing address, and I kept forgetting to remind her.

Isn’t it too bad that we take such precious things for granted, sometimes until it’s too late?

I’m happy to say that it wasn’t too late this time to reconnect with my dear friend.

Sunday night I signed on and discovered a brief note from Lynn. It said she was just checking to see if the e-mail address she had for me was still good. I replied, giving a brief update and telling her she could fill in some of the gaps by reading my blog. I ended with the exhortation to update me on her life.

And, boy, did she.

I thought my life was filled with drama. Besides her mother’s health problems, her husband had a humongous health scare last year, a tornado blew away most of her workplace, and “then we had 2 ice storms, a record snowfall and 2 hundred-year floods – all in one winter!”

She talked about suffering and hope and cliches that now mean something to her after the past two years of trauma and drama.

When we were teenagers, our biggest problems were acne, part-time jobs and does-he-like-me?

Now it’s decades later, and those “problems” are a lifetime away, having made way for real and true suffering.

When your friends are friends only during the happy times, they’re not true friends. A true friend knows she can share all the scary, gut-wrenching stuff of her real-life drama and you’ll stick around. A lifelong friend is someone who knows all your nicknames, and you know hers. And it feels good.

I haven’t been called Sue-Bee in years.

I love you, Lynnie Red Small.

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Not crazy for catalogs?

Too much junk mail piling up on the table by your front door? Too much temptation to whip out the credit card and buy that fabulous new (insert name of fashion item or electronic gadget) when you look at catalogs? Too little time to sort through the stack and shred the pages containing personal info? And, most important, want to stop merchants from killing all those trees?

Have I got a site for you!

Via Catalog Choice, you can register your preferences with retailers who send you unwanted catalogs.

Just today, we received a catalog from The Container Store, and I have no idea how we got on that mailing list (it was addressed to Bruce, who never signs up for anything). Maybe the company’s marketers just blanketed the region because there’s a new store in Little Rock. Who knows, but we don’t need or want their catalogs.

Darn it all, The Container Store isn’t on the list of participating merchants, but others who pester me with catalogs are. And if a merchant isn’t a participant, you can still register your preference. Catalog Choice will keep track of it for future reference. Here’s what they say about merchants that aren’t listed:

“If you can’t find the catalog(s) you are looking for, please help us by suggesting them for inclusion in our database. Just go to the Find Catalogs screen, and click the “Suggest a catalog” link at the top, and enter your catalog title. (This is more efficient than emailing them to us.)”

I’ve poked around the site for a while this evening, and I’m so excited that it exists. Even though some of my merchants aren’t listed there, I recognized the names of many major retailers, some of which I know you receive catalogs from. I’m adding the URL to my favorite links on the right, so if you forget to bookmark it you can always come back here to find it.

So check it out and save a tree (or three).

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Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas, world!

I’m sitting at my mom’s back window, looking out at the beautiful, crisp, clear morning. The sky is blue, the trees are green and there’s still frost on the ground. It’s a beautiful winter morning.

Last night I got sleepy at 8:15, and Mom said I couldn’t go to bed yet (she’s mean). She said if I stayed up with her, she’d get up early with me. I told her there was no need for that because I love having the quiet morning to myself before everyone (except Salsa) gets up. I take the girls outside for their morning potty break, lift Pepper back onto the bed (where she crawls under the covers with Bruce), and then come back in and savor my cup of coffee, all before the sun comes up. (Mom finally let me go to bed last night at 9:45, when she saw me lying on the floor half-asleep). This morning, Salsa and I did a quieter-than-usual version of our morning wrestling match. We played tug of war with a toy — no running around like fools before everyone gets up.

Routines are different here at Mom’s. She doesn’t have a fence, so we can’t let the girls go outside and potty by themselves. We have to leash them and walk them until they decide to do their business. It’s usually pretty quick with Salsa — when she needs to go, she goes. With Pepper, we have to let her walk around a little, then turn her circles and find the exact right spot — all the while saying, “Go potty … go potty … go potty.” It’s not as fun when it’s cold outside.

So, while I wait for my family to get up (my brother’s house is within hollerin’ distance, and I can see from Mom’s window that they’re still not stirring), Salsa and I will go sit and watch the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon. (Oh, and someone may have already cut into the chocolate pie for breakfast, but I’m not saying.)

Yes, this Christmas is much more relaxed and wonderful than last, even if last year, in my somewhat-depressed state, I still tried to remember the reason we have Christmas in the first place.

Please, as you go about your day, remember the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who was born simply to die for us and give us a better way to live.

I love you, Jesus.

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Christmas cheer-up

What a difference a year makes.

Last year at this time I was in full self-pity mode. I had a job I hated (after less than a month there), Bruce was sick (he spent seven days in the hospital a week before Christmas), we were broke and a friend died on Christmas Day. I had started gaining weight from the stress, mostly from the job. (In the 11 months I worked at that place, I gained 25 pounds. Just from emotional eating.)

I hadn’t put up our big Christmas tree in a couple of years – didn’t put one up at all last year, even the little one. Bruce and I didn’t buy any Christmas gifts last year, either. Yes, this chick had one very blue, blue blue blue Christmas.

Even the truths I knew about God were truths in my head but not necessarily in my heart. He promised never to leave or forsake me, but I sure felt forsaken.

That was last year. I can’t say the pity party is completely over (we still have a lot of the same problems we had a year ago – some even worse), but God has led me through the darkest part (at least I hope so!).

I have dragged out the Christmas decorations (yes, it does seem worth it) and have even put up the big tree. I went to Hobby Lobby this evening to buy a couple of extra strands of blinking lights (with some of my birthday money), and as I left the store a cool wind blew across me. But instead of thinking, “Brrr, it’s cold!” I said to myself, “What an invigorating breeze!”

I used to loathe cold weather, but I have grown to appreciate it. Tonight, after what could have been a frustrating day (because a utility crew accidentally cut a cable, my office lost its Internet connection, rendering me nearly helpless to do most of the account processing I usually take care of each day), I was actually thankful for my job. That, in turn, helped me enjoy the chilly wind and the crystal-clear evening.

Nearly every day I tell God how grateful I am for the job (sometimes I forget – I take it for granted, just like I always will). I could enumerate all the reasons, but that’s for another post. Let me just say again, as I have said a couple of times here, that it is an AWESOME company to work for.

It’s amazing how one little change can be such a big deal. Working at the hell hole I came from, I thought I would always have a job I hated, whether it’s because I deserved to, because I’m just a whiner who’s never satisfied or (and this is what I really thought) that most people have jobs they hate. No one can really love his job. You hear people talking about loving their jobs, but you think they’re crazy (or lying), right?

But now I get it, because … I LOVE MY JOB!

And it makes all the difference in the world. Yes, we’re broker than broke, Bruce is still sick (oh, yeah, and I was diagnosed with a heart problem a few weeks ago), and we still have to sell our house. But my life is pretty good. Bruce asked me today how I was doing, and I replied, “Fantastic!” before I could think. He was surprised. He hasn’t heard me say anything that positive in a long time.

I’ve even lost 13 pounds (and counting) since leaving the other job.

What else is good? I’ve had so much extra time, I’ve started baking again. Can it get any better than that?

And tonight, with the beautiful early evening sky, the tiny sliver of moon and the celestial conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, paired with the invigorating breeze, I felt lighter than air.

What a difference a year makes.

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