Weekly Wrap-up – 06/27/15

So much has been going on lately – so much to tell. Let’s get started.

Our Farm to Table menu included a yummy salad, chicken and Andouille sausage gumbo with shrimp on the side, summer squash gratin with ricotta and Gruyere, and Arkansas jasmine rice. For dessert, apple, peach and blackberry pie with sweetened sour cream and raw milk vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Last night Bruce and I attended the inaugural Farm to Table Dinner on lower Main Street in Batesville, and it was such a success, I have no doubt there will be a second-annual. About 100 people attended, we ate lots of delicious, locally grown food and listened to some awesome live music … and I took 113 photos. Oh, yeah, and I got to wear my cowboy boots! 🙂

The Main Street Farmers Market is still newish but is flourishing. I’ll be sharing about that in a few days, but for now I’ll just leave you with a teaser: I’m preparing a series featuring the vendors I’ve met on Saturdays at the farmers market, similar to the one I’ve been posting on my other blog, To Well With You. If you haven’t checked that out, head on over and tell me what you think.

First Community Bank President Boris Dover (left) and CEO Dale Cole take a selfie as the bank announces its entry into the world of social media.

My employer, First Community Bank in Batesville, Ark., has launched a Facebook page! We had an official kickoff Thursday as the bank hosted the chamber’s monthly Business After Hours event. Using a selfie stick (no doubt for the first time), our chairman/CEO and president/COO took a selfie with the crowd in the background; it was hilarious to see Mr. Cole ask our marketing director’s help to get the Facebook page open on his phone.

By the way, we’re giving away a cruise. To enter, Like and share our FB page.

Other big things we talked about at the event:

  • The bank donated $20,000 to Main Street Batesville toward an ongoing project. As we revitalize our Main Street, a beautification project has been taking place before our eyes for several months. Lots of exciting things are going on downtown, and I’ll definitely be sharing them here.
  • Impact Independence County – an effort to bring community members (that’s you and me, folks) together to strategize ways to move our county forward – will hold a community meeting and cookout in UACCB’s Independence Hall starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 1. Gov. Asa Hutchinson will be the special guest. The IIC’s community survey will go live on the website after that event.


At the Business After Hours event, I talked to a couple of young women who were interested in blogging (one as a reader and one as a writer). For those of you who have toyed with the idea of starting a blog, there has never been a better time to start! I’ve been blogging at Suzy & Spice since 2007, and if I didn’t love it (besides my family and Jesus, nothing gives me greater joy), I wouldn’t have started a second blog.

I’ve also learned a few things that I’d love to pass along if you’re interested.

In the past year or so, I’ve focused on taking my blog(s) to the next level, and I’ve studied branding, “platform building,” content marketing, social media, search-engine optimization and all sorts of other things, including ways to make my writing and photography better.

Now, don’t let all that that fancy talk scare you off. If you simply love to write, like connecting with others online and just want to share your thoughts in a public space and Facebook isn’t fulfilling that need, you can start a blog. (A side benefit has been the connections I’ve made with other bloggers online and in person.)

It’s so easy, a goober like me can do it, and I would love to show you how.

So many resources are available nowadays, and I’ll be working on a post specific to helping you get started. Meanwhile, if you’re scared at the thought, email, call or text me (if you have my phone number) and we can talk through your fears. 🙂 You can email me at suzy@suzyoakley.com.

SuzyOakleycom_croppedSpeaking of contact information and blogs, Bruce built me a “digital business card” – following my specifications and a bunch of tweaking – a web page to allow folks to get a snippet or two of who I am and click through to either of my blogs. It also includes links to my social media profiles. Click here to visit SuzyOakley.com.

Shhh Dont tell!I’ve been invited to speak at a conference this summer. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, so I don’t feel free to share details online, but I’m excited about it! I’ll give you the lowdown as soon as I can.

That’s it for this week, folks. We had a clogged drain (laundry and kitchen) for 11 days (don’t ask) and just got it fixed Thursday. I’m still catching up on laundry, dishes, floor cleaning, blogging … and sleep. 🙂 And high-fives (no, TENS!) to Lonnie Clark of C&S Plumbing for climbing onto our roof and rooting out the drain from a vent. Who knew?

Now, go out and have an awesome weekend.

Tell us in the comments: What’s one incredible thing that happened to you this week?

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Weekly Wrap-Up – Feb. 28, 2015

So much to tell you about in this Weekly Wrap-up. Let’s get started:

  • HobbitCoverI met artist Sarah Shotts (awesome last name for a photographer, right?) at Arkansas Women Bloggers University last year. Her latest post came at just the right time. I had written something during my lunch break yesterday that I planned to publish last night, and after reading Embracing My Inner Samwise, I decided to rewrite my piece and be gentler on myself. Thank you, Sarah, for being a like-minded gal! Now, to move Bruce’s well-loved copy of The Hobbit to the top of the stack on my nightstand …

And congrats, Sarah, on the one-year anniversary of your blog!

Here’s a New York Times piece on Nimoy, which includes a short video in which he explains the origin of the Vulcan hand signal. Fascinating. 🙂

We lost Mr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and we got him back in Part III: The Search for Spock. But this time the death is final.

Live long and prosper, Mr. Nimoy.

  • Spring training is about to start (dance of joy!), and I’ve updated my MLB.com At Bat app on the iPad and iPhone. So isn’t it nice to find this short piece on the “Vulcan changeup” as even baseball players remember and honor Mr. Nimoy.

(That reminds me: I still have a baseball book I need to review to fulfill a commitment.)

  • Another great loss this week: The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, who was president of the University of Notre Dame while Bruce was a student there, died Thursday at age 97. Bruce remembered Fr. Ted as a champion of civil rights who marched with Dr. King. From the current ND president: “With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.” Read more of this remarkable man’s life here.
  • If you don’t know about the dress-color debate, you don’t do media, social or otherwise (I heard about it on a local radio station). I thought the whole thing was just a waste of time until Your Turn Challenge blogger Randall Hartman put it in perspective.
  • One of the things I want to do every day is take a risk, whether large or small. YTC mate Corey Bennett talks about risk, preparation and improv.
  • Snow has postponed this morning’s Penguin 10K and 5K races in Batesville, as well as the Polar Bear Plunge. Both events benefit Special Olympics. New time and date: 5 p.m. March 21.
  • But the Little Rock Marathon is still scheduled to go on tomorrow, and this morning’s 5k went off on dry ground. And, y’all, Bart Yasso is there!
  • On my friend and “Evernote evangelist” Rusty’s recommendation, I subscribed to productivity guru Michael Hyatt this week. You can download his FREE ebook by subscribing, too. (I’ll be reviewing the ebook once I finish it. I plan to review Evernote Essentials, as well, once I finish that ebook.)
  • I’m still reading the World War II story Unbroken. Louie and Phil have finally left the raft after 47 days on the Pacific; unfortunately their “rescuers” are the Japanese. Also still listening to The Boys on the Boat during treadmill time. Those rowing boys still haven’t made it to the 1936 Olympics, but they’re getting there, one race at a time.

Quote of the week:


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Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 22, 2015

Friends, the weekend is about over, and I’m just sitting down to write the Weekly Wrap-up. I’m staying up past my bedtime just for you. 🙂

I’m trying to read Evernote Essentials finally (I downloaded the ebook in October or November) – so I can make the best use of the awesome productivity tool known as Evernote. I have just scratched the surface.

I thought I was clipping some URLs from websites into Evernote for the Wrap-up, but, alas, I apparently missed a step and will have to rely on the gazillion tabs I still have open in Firefox, the flagged emails I saved in Outlook and my poor, feeble memory. (Uh-oh.)

So here is the week in review:


AllGirlFillingStation_coverA few weeks ago I started reading Unbroken before I got sidetracked by some required reading. Now I’m back. When I heard about the movie, and that it was based on a Laura Hillenbrand book about Olympic miler Louie Zamperini, I thought it was going to be about his running career. Wrong. It’s mostly about his time in World War II. (I don’t want to spoil anything, but right now he and a buddy are in the middle of a 40-something-day stint in a rubber raft in the Pacific after their plane went down. And there are LOTS of sharks.)

As I was reading about WWII and the warplanes and the pilots and crew, it brought to mind a book I read last year for my monthly reading group. (Actually, I listened to the audio version during my long runs.) This wasn’t a novel I would have chosen, but I like Fannie Flagg so I gave it a whirl. The All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion wasn’t at all what I expected. The all-girl part was a group of sisters who worked at their dad’s filling station in Wisconsin (“Hiya, pal!”). But after their brother went off to war, three of the four sisters became pilots – Women Airforce Service Pilots, to be exact – and that’s where it got interesting. It was fiction, but I felt that I learned a little bit about a segment of our nation’s history that I had never studied: the WASPS. I’ll let you read up on that for yourself, here.

I’m also still reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for another discussion group. We meet at 6:30 a.m. every other Thursday at McDonald’s. I love these discussions! And then there are the two church-group books I’m reading. Those discussions have been great, too, and very thought provoking. Maybe I’ll talk about those two books later.

So that’s the book part. Here’s what I’ve been reading on the Internet:

  • My friend Alison, whose four kids are hurtling toward adulthood, has a soft spot for babies, and perhaps an even softer spot for struggling moms. Read her story about babies on a plane.

(Sidebar: In a bit of serendipity, I “introduced” Alison to Elissa via separate emails, as they are both expats living in Scotland at the present, and after looking at Alison’s blog Elissa told me they seem to know a few of the same people. I’m so eager to see where this goes!)

#7: You Become Free.

“At first we hug our boundaries in chains. We think ‘if we tell the girl we like her, she might not like me back.’ We think, ‘If I say I like this candidate, my friends might hate me.’ If I say X, everyone else might say Y. And so on. But more and more we start to feel where those boundaries are and we push them out. We push them further and further away from ourselves. Until finally they are so far away it’s as if they don’t exist at all. You don’t need money for that. Or a big house. Or a fancy degree or car. Every day, just push out those boundaries a little further. … Eventually, the boundaries are so far away we begin to feel the pleasures of true freedom.”

Push the boundaries. I’m workin’ on it.

  • Altucher wrote a book called “Choose Yourself.” I understand the sentiment: He’s not telling us to be selfish but to stick up for ourselves. That’s one way of looking at it. But Thomas McGreevey challenges us to “Love With Abandon.”

I’ll choose that.

What have you been reading lately? Spill the beans!

Follow me on Twitter: @oakleysuzyt

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Weekly Wrap-up – Feb. 15, 2015

OscarWildeQuoteLots of good stuff in this week’s wrap-up. Four of the picks came to me by way of Your Turn Challenge mates, either directly (their own blog posts) or indirectly (links they shared). I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

  • In Motorcade Window Shopping, Corey Bennett helped me imagine the isolation of being president of the United States.
  • Jim Borden hit the nail on the head (or should I say struck the One Pin?) yet brought back a painful memory for me when he talked about an awkward first date in high school: “He Likes to Talk About Bowling.” (He even shares a high school ID photo.) I think Jim and I are beginning to be friends simply because we’re both nerds. (You’ll have to read the comments on Jim’s post to see how his story relates to me.)
  • I found this rant by Kristen Lamb via Mona Karel of YTC. In many ways it sums up the profound sadness I feel about the phenomenon that is a certain book and movie that even some of my Christian sisters see nothing wrong with consuming. (I’m not stating the title here, because I don’t wish to give this piece of doodoo any more search-engine hits than it already must have. If you are breathing, you know the thing I’m talking about, anyway.) If you plan to view the movie or the book, read what Kristen has to say first. Maybe it will strike a nerve.
  • Some photographers who live near LAX get together monthly to Shoot the Moon. Don’t miss it.
  • I don’t love everything about Anne Lamott, as some do, but I do love her brutal honesty. (Reading her makes me want to be braver in my writing.) And because Elissa Joy Watts reminded me of Annie’s book on writing by linking to this post from Brain Pickings, her book Bird by Bird is up next on my list. (Right after I finish Stephen King’s On Writing.)
  • GOTR-logo-w-circles-298x300And you knew I had to slip something about running into the mix, didn’t you? This one came to me via the Charity Miles newsletter in my inbox. (I use the Charity Miles app, which earns dollars for your favorite charity when you walk, run or bike.) Read this story about a crazy running chick who set out to run seven half-marathons on seven continents in seven days (that’s 91.7 miles on her feet and thousands of miles in the air). As of this writing, Casey had raised nearly $10,000 for Girls on the Run, but weather had thrown a wrench into the team’s plans for race #7 (Antarctica). I’m not sure how it turned out, but I’m staying tuned for the next update. (In case you wonder what charity I support through Charity Miles, it’s the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.)
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Weekly Wrap-up, the inaugural edition

I’m starting a new feature at Suzy & Spice. I read a lot, and I usually find an abundance of things I’m eager to share. I hope you find something you like each week. This week’s offering includes books, tech tips, writing lessons, Olympians and more.

Enjoy the first edition of Weekly Wrap-up, and please join in the fun by sharing your comments below.

I realized yesterday that I’m reading books concurrently in three formats:

  • The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Audible.com version, narrated by the wonderful [and recently departed] Edward Hermann). It’s about the University of Washington’s 1936 Olympic rowing team. Fascinating, engrossing, inspiring. This book was recommended by an author friend of mine, Conrad Wesselhoeft, who might be just a little biased – he grew up in Seattle. He recommended it after I told him I was reading Unbroken, also about a 1936 Olympian (another excellent read).
  • Swimming by Nicola Keegan (Kindle version on my iPad). This is the February pick for my local book group. Ironic – it’s a novel about an Olympic swimmer (but I didn’t pick it). We meet Tuesday, and I’m way behind (I should be reading instead of writing, eh?). So far this book hasn’t grabbed me, although it begins with narration by an infant, so at least it’s not boring.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (hard copy checked out from the county library). Yes, the horror novelist is teaching me how to write good. Conrad recommended the audio version of this book, too, but my 30-day trial of Audible allows only one free book and since this one was in the library, I took it. This book is humorous, insightful and honest. (I used to devour Stephen King books, after being totally creeped out by my first one, The Shining, in 11th grade. I haven’t read one since Misery.)
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (Kindle for iPad, $2.99). I have a battered old paperback copy of this, somewhere, but seem to have misplaced it or loaned it out. I’m involved in a weekly reading group that’s discussing the book, so I decided to buy the Kindle version. So very worth it, although I would say the same about all of Lewis’ books, as he’s my favorite author.
  • I’m not counting the books I’m reading for: small group and a class at church. Those books are just one chapter every week or two. (But they’re hard copies, and they’re both good. I’ll tell you about them someday.)

As regular readers here know, I recently completed a seven-day blogfest, the Your Turn Challenge (here are my 7 posts). Now there’s a Facebook page, lots of the 600 bloggers have continued “shipping” every day, and I’ve made some neat new friends. They inspire, encourage and inform me, including:

  • This podcast from Andy Stitt on SEO, Google Analytics and Google webmaster tools. (If you blog or have a website, you know.)
  • Tara Sophia Mohr eloquently expresses some things I knew deep inside but haven’t been able to express. Here, she tells us to Give It Words.
  • And, hey, look at this! Someone else has been inspired by an Olympic rower. (This one is still alive.) Read about Robin Thomas’ brush with greatness.
  • James Schmeling gives me a glimpse into a world I wasn’t aware of. In his world of “academic intrapreneurship,” his institution helps teach and train veterans and their families. This idea is intriguing, and something I want to know more about.
  • I have much more. Much more. But this is a lot already, so I’ll leave you to ponder the lesson in this delightful piece by Elissa Joy Watts on waiting until it’s right. (And, wouldn’t you know, she has written about a book that I’m now dying to read. But I’ll save that for later.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first edition of Weekly Wrap-up. Please tell me what parts of it you liked, or maybe didn’t like. Let’s swap stories.

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